The decision to in-house or outsource your work is one that many companies make. Both have complications, and both are tough decisions. But, if you outsource, then the question is how many outsourcing companies to hire? If you are in the printing business, you might find one company that does a good job with your business cards, and another who is better at pamphlets. A third company might be more expensive, but good at short turnaround for books. In my opinion, it is better to have many outsourcing companies on payroll. Use the better ones more, but keep in touch with a few others that function as your backups. In business – you always need backups and multiple backups are necessary since people retire, quit, go out of business, are busy, end up in a hospital, screw up, or might even cheat you.
The Single Vendor Approach
If you outsource to a single vendor, you would only need one or two pickups of orders (possibly done online) and only one or two drop offs of work per day. Your work would be mixed in with their other clients’ work, and completed at their various facilities, or perhaps at a single relatively nearby facility.
The Multi-Vendor Approach
If you hire several vendors, you can optimize by hiring the best vendor for each specific task you have. Additionally, some vendors as I mentioned above might be better at short orders while others might specialize in low prices with less favorable delivery terms.
Brokering your work
If you hire a broker to figure out how to get your work done, then they worry about who to hire. Since they specialize in outsourcing work, they might be better at it than you.
There are other vendors who would hire a third party, but manage the work done at that other company’s facility.
You can also hire a vendor that has particular staff members designated to working only for you. This has higher fixed costs, but they take care of the staffing, training, machines, and all you have to do is to supply orders. Having dedicated employees is very popular in call center and software development outsourcing. It is common for a US company to hire five programmers in Noida, India who work for an IT staffing outsourcing firm to work on a project for them.
The Mixed Approach
You could have all the machinery you need in-house, but in limited supply. You could do whatever work you have time for yourself. But, whatever overflow you get, you could outsource to one or more vendors. Additionaly, if your equipment breaks, you would already have your outsourcing partners in action. In business, it is very important to already have a long lasting relationship with someone when you need their help in an emergency.