A guide to working with a content services provider
If you’re creating educational resources and you are looking for extra ideas, skills or resources to help complete a project, here's how you can get the best out of a content service provider.
What is a content service provider?
There are times in every organisation when requirements exceed in-house capacity. Whether you are a publisher, qualifications provider, education institution, professional membership body or edtech, at some point you will need out-of-house support for your learning content creation. While individual freelancers remain a good option for specific tasks, larger projects necessitate more resources, which take time to commission and manage.
This is where content service providers like Haremi come in. In one sense, these companies do exactly what they say on the tin – deliver content. This can include writing, editing, design, media production and digital development. However, these suppliers also provide the glue that keeps ventures together, such as project management, commissioning and quality assurance. This approach allows providers to offer a full-service option for teams looking to outsource. Content service providers are sometimes called 'packagers'.
Some providers focus on specific areas of content development – such as higher ed – or specialise in certain tasks, like design. Others, including Haremi, offer a full range of print, media and digital services and expertise across the entire learning journey, from pre-school to continuous professional development.
Why work with a content service supplier?
There are many reasons to work with content service providers but they boil down to two things: capacity and flexibility. They can:
- help you focus on your core strengths by outsourcing time-consuming tasks
- plan and execute projects and provide quality assurance
- fill expertise gaps or arrange last-minute support
- allow you to be more responsive and ambitious by taking on larger or more time-sensitive projects.
More specifically, content service suppliers provide:
Project flexibility: high quality suppliers can take on a wide range of projects across all product stages. This can be anything from individual tasks – like writing an exam or undertaking last-minute photo research – to leading a project, such as a digital course, from concept to go-live. They are also open to collaborating in the way that works best for you, adapting to your workflows or contracting your preferred vendors for key tasks.
Core capacity: when contracting a provider, you are hiring an entire organisation with a range of expertise. For example, Haremi’s experienced editorial and project management teams can act as an extension of your own organisation, covering core tasks like proofreading and answer checking. This will save you time and provide you with confidence that the work will be done to the quality you expect.
Rapid scalability: suppliers maintain extensive pools of trusted freelancers across a range of functions – including designers, authors, subject matter experts, voiceover artists and programmers. These extended teams allow them to scale up quickly to meet any brief, greatly shrinking the time it takes to resource a project.
Adaptability: Haremi, like other quality providers, has extensive experience working with a variety of clients and content, providing them with the ability to quickly understand requirements and adapt to your processes and culture. While most suppliers have their own internal workflows and quality assurance protocols, they will also be adept at adjusting to your own ways of working.
Tips for a successful supplier relationship
As with any supplier relationship, there can be challenges when working with a content service provider on an outsourced learning project. The following tips will help you develop a strong working partnership and ensure your project runs smoothly.
Do your research: not all providers are created equal or offer the same services. It is worth researching online or asking colleagues for recommendations to find a good match. When speaking to a supplier, request examples of relevant experience, case studies and client testimonials. Enquire about workflows and quality assurance processes. The best suppliers will have these worked out and well documented, giving you the confidence that the job will be done right first time.
Arrange a site visit: video calls are great, but why not ask to visit the content provider's office premises to meet all the people who will be carrying out your work in person. This is also a great way to find out about the size of the supplier and get a feel for the supplier’s office culture and values.
Consider quality as well as cost: focus on finding the right partner to assist you in achieving your goals while providing quality results. Budget for all the necessary editorial stages. Sacrificing quality to save money, might not be cost-effective in the long run, if you find the content isn't up to standard.
Take the time to plan properly: as is the case in-house, the more time a content provider has to plan and resource a project, the better the end result.
Set expectations clearly before you start: ensuring that everyone is on the same page before development starts is essential. You will not regret taking the time to develop full briefs, agree objectives and acceptance criteria, and create samples. You can then make the provider fully accountable, to reduce your personal burden.
Communication and teamwork are essential: answering queries from a content provider promptly will help keep things on track. Make it clear which decisions you are happy to delegate to them, to free up even more of your time. Instead of relying on email, consider booking in regular catch-up calls, or bringing together conversations and project data in an online app such as Teams or Slack.
A content service provider is there to be part of your team. Developing strong communication channels and a collaborative approach will help ensure that things run smoothly. Of course, the relationship is a two-way street, so you should expect the same level of openness and cooperation in return.
Look to build long-term partnerships: it might take a provider a bit of time to get up to speed with your house style, preferences and systems. However, this learning process will prove beneficial as the project progresses. In future collaborations, the need to answer queries and undertake extensive briefing and technical troubleshooting will decrease.
Haremi’s services might be just the solution you require for your current or future learning content development. To discuss a specific project or to hear about how we can help you, please use our contact form, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.