The innovation failure rate is between 80-90%. Innovation fails when teams lack long-term strategy and don’t adapt to changing circumstances.
While many companies innovate in-house, sometimes it makes more sense to outsource innovation. Firms can be incredibly successful when they use external parties to generate ideas and strategies.
Research shows the best innovators use a combination of in-house innovation and external collaboration.
So, how do you decide what to outsource and what to keep in-house?
It starts with figuring out what you do best. What are the strengths of your team? By focusing on what you do best, you can leverage the strengths of your team, while optimizing the talent of external individuals and companies. There are many times when outsourcing innovation is not only a viable, but advantageous option.
If we take a look at the tools available to M&A professionals, there are many innovative options. While firms may be tempted to build these tools in-house, these products require extensive R&D, resources, and ongoing maintenance. Here are 10 reasons why you should outsource complex innovation (in lieu of building in-house):
1. Avoid chaos. Innovative processes can be chaotic. When you lack the necessary structure, it can be difficult to realize tangible results and create a useful tool for your team. You may look at a tool and feel confident in your ability to recreate the technology, but this is rarely the case. By outsourcing innovation, you can eliminate this chaos.
2. Leverage diverse expertise. By collaborating with experts, you can realize more innovative results. If you always ideate with the same group of people, it can be difficult to discover anything truly new. That’s why it’s important to access a diverse set of viewpoints (from outside your firm!). Get fresh insights—from experts—to brainstorm new ideas.
3. Manage and report innovation. When innovating in-house, the scope of activities changes over time as responsibilities are passed along to different professionals and various teams. This irregularity makes accountability elusive, slowing progress and cannibalizing outcomes. By outsourcing innovation, it can be easier to manage, report, and advance innovation.
4. Capitalize on specialties. By outsourcing innovation, you can take advantage of innovative technologies that solve very specific problems. For instance, many deal teams use spreadsheets and emails to complete deals. This isn’t always the best way. Here are just a few M&A tools you can use to improve your process:
5. Realize cost benefits. At DealRoom, through our work with corporate development professionals, sellers, and buyers, we know how beneficial outsourcing innovation can be. We work with a F500 company that spent one million per year in-house developing what amounted to be an inadequate project management system. After replacing their in-house software with DealRoom—at 1/8th the cost—they doubled their productivity.
6. Save time. As the F500 example demonstrates, companies spend years and millions of dollars developing in-house technology that ends up being ineffective. By outsourcing innovation, you can avoid this struggle and loss of time. In addition to saving time in the innovation process, you can save time day-to-day by using better technology. By using DealRoom to automate diligence requests and collaborate in real time, teams reduce their workload by 50% and increase productivity by more than 25%.
7. Beat your competition. If small firms try to innovate in-house, it is impossible for them to keep pace with large corporations that invest millions of dollars each year. While small firms can spend time recruiting specialists to develop software, this process inevitably takes time. In the meantime, the competition collects valuable data as their AI learns. The alternative is to outsource to a specialist company and immediately compete.
8. Benefit from a mature process. By outsourcing innovation, you get to use mature technology. With mature technology, most of the initial bugs and faults have been worked out. You get to skip the experimentation involved with in-house development by outsourcing.
9. Utilize tools that are tested and maintained. Likewise, you have access to mature tools that are continuously tested and maintained. If you build something in-house, R&D and ongoing maintenance will be costly. Alternatively, you can collaborate with a team who is dedicated to researching, testing, maintaining, and continuously improving a specific product or service.
10. Minimize risk and failure. It’s not surprising, but companies fear failure when it comes to innovation. This is understandable since 80-90% of innovation fails. Failing innovation costs a lot of money and at times, leads to managers losing their jobs. By outsourcing innovation, you minimize this risk of failure.
The best innovators use a combination of in-house innovation and external collaboration. Where does it make sense for you to outsource innovation?
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