Wednesday 12 June 2013

Outsourcing: the good, the bad and the ugly. Richard Fidczuk on to onshore or offshore?

Richard Fidczuk: onshoring
Richard Fidczuk is Production Director at SAGE Publications. Constant change in both journals and books businesses means the need exists to be able to adapt processes, workflows and systems to meet changing requirements. People are needed to develop these processes, workflows and systems. Managing resources is key. They have developed an insourced approach to offshoring by establishing their Delhi office.

When done well, the benefits are clear: being able to offshore staffing for production has meant reductions of 27% per page costs. Delhi handles SAGE owned journals with society contracts handled from London, due to the complexity of relationship and potential perceived (versus real) issues. He advises not to focus on new processes that are not ready for outsourcing as they are not stable enough.

Growth has enabled them to keep staff after they have off-shored functions. But it wouldn't be large enough alone to cover all staff, so they've looked at the business to change the way they do things so in order to redeploy staff. As their business has been in a state of perpetual change, it has freed them to think about how they can adapt processes to change.

Individual production editor tasks have evolved. They now have end to end responsibility, for online as well as print, with a shift to article based production. SAGE has created a new role - Production Innovation Manager which focuses on the case for improvements to production workflows - particularly around completely new products. They coordinate implementation of changes to processes/workflows and work across departments. They have also established a Global Supplier Manager who handles the relationships with all their typesetting suppliers. Other specialist roles have focused on XML, system specialists/super users, peer review system (using fundref and crossref) and open access expertise (e.g. managing payment interface with finance dealing with licensing issues). They have also used staff to support the training of teams in the Delhi office, to build understanding of the processes that will enable them to work most efficiently.

Other areas that SAGE have successfully off-shored to Delhi include:

  • marketing data specialists now based in India with analysis undertaken in London
  • production and permissions clearance management for SAGE major works
  • journals peer review - SAGETRACK - out to Delhi
  • design, book covers and marketing materials 
  • IT development.

Fidczuk's final bit of advice? They have found that people find it a lot easier to change and adapt if there are real opportunities to develop and take on new roles.

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