Out-sourceing versus in-house (FAQ10)
Since there are usually many separate steps in a digitization project, this managerial decision is often not an all or nothing proposition. Certain portions of the project may be out-sourced while other portions can be done in-house. For instance, a hypothetical digitization project of a photographic collection might be accomplished by having the scanning of the photographs done via out-sourcing commercially and the metadata describing each photograph be created in-house. However if out-sourcing is to be pursued for any portion of the project, it is critical to make sure all relevant technical requirements are carefully specified in any "Request for Proposal" (RFP) to be sent to potential vendors.
From a managerial standpoint, there are of course both pros and cons on each side of the in-house versus out-sourcing question. Depending of the size of the project, an in-house approach can entail significant amounts of time spent on personnel, equipment and workspace issues. Weighed against this is the ability to more closely monitor progress and quality control issues when the project is done in-house. Some of the disadvantages of out-sourcing are the time and energy which needs to be devoted to the writing and legal vetting of the RFP, bidding process and final contract negotiations, all of which can take considerable time. Also to be considered in the out-sourcing model is the possible loss of direct day to day supervision of the digitization process. Many of the technical specifications which need to be specified in the RFP are the results of decisions that would have to be made in any case, but when dealing with an outside vendor, all technical specifications must be laid out in writing in a completely unambiguous manner. As a result, an RFP for even a relatively small out-sourced digital project can run to at least several dozen pages. Several models for digital project RFPs are publicly available for study.[4, 5, 6]