Getting It All Done

We all know the economy is tight these days, and the belt is tightening even further on publication budgets. Perhaps you’re adapting by using freelancers instead of funding a staff position. Or maybe you’re forgoing freelancers and taking on a heavier workload yourself. Everyone, it seems, is doing more for less. So how do you get it all done?

The design workload—marketing materials, flyers, brochures, conference materials, books, websites, not to mention the main publication—can be negotiated in a number of ways. While it is unusual for the art director of a publication to be hands on with anything beyond the scope of the magazine itself, this is not so for designers at associations, where the scope of work tends to include other materials. Some associations have a Renaissance designer who is able to do it all, while others opt for working with an outside designer or design firm. Which is the best solution for your association? This can only be answered by evaluating your design needs, budget, and availability of talent.

First, it is important to look at the big picture of your annual workload, taking into consideration busy and slow times. It is doubtful that workflow will be even for the year, but when it is busy, can the flow be handled in-house? When it’s slow, are in-house designers using the time to tweak any issues with the visuals and the brand? Are they taking professional development classes, fine-tuning templates, and preparing for upcoming projects? Just be aware that if the slow period stretches too long, you may not have enough workflow during the year to justify a staff position and may decide to outsource all or part of the work.

The single biggest factor in deciding how to accomplish your workload is your budget. With economic times still being tough, you cannot afford to waste money. Look closely at the workflow and the job descriptions to ensure you have the best solution for your situation. This is important as there is such a wide range of responsibilities at associations.

Once you have a comprehensive overview of your project flow and worker capabilities, you may still be undecided on approach. Working in-house and outsourcing both have their pros and cons: When you have an in-house designer, you can walk over and discuss changes face to face, but mission creep and workflow can become a concern. If you’re working with a design firm, while a team will be dedicated to your publication, they will not be across the hall, or may not be as familiar with your association as a staff member would be. Create your own list of pros and cons to help you decide which situation is best for your association.

This article is an adaptation of “The D-Team,” published in Association Publishing.

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