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  In-house vs. Outsourced Community Management?
We are in the process of developing community on our site and we are not sure if we want to run it in-house or outsource it. What are the benefits of both, outsourcing community and in-house management?

This is an excellent question and one that should always be considered when developing community on a site. Community development options and execution are important to the success of any community and how the site is received by those that visit. With this in mind, lets take a look at some of the benefits of, on the one hand, using in-house management and, on the other, of outsourcing to a community development company.

In-House

Running your community in-house can provide you with the following benefits or facilities;

- the opportunity to have greater day-to-day control over moderation of the community and the content that is provided by the community staff,
- more direct contact with your community members, without the potential for any “filtering” by a third party. - a hands on approach to community development and involvement,
- fewer worries over contractual issues between yourself and the community service provider which might have repercussions for your site,
- confidence in the continuity of your community.
- the opportunity to develop your own custom community components.


Outsourcing

Outsourcing can provide the following options;

- the ability to allow someone else to handle the technical and administrative issues which can be time and resource sapping,
- a staff of “ready-made” moderators or community managers who have extensive experience and training,
- third party consulting and guidance on ways to improve or enhance community growth,
- genuinely external perspective which can be valuable to community strategy,
- years of experience and “sure-fire” community development techniques.


One thing to also keep in mind is that there are community development companies that will provide support, act as independent consultants, help with the hiring and training of moderators/community managers and assist with community launches. Many of those companies will ultimately turn over the actual control and running of the community to you and your site.

It is common to find that your choice comes down to practicalities of time and resources. What is crucial is that if you choose to develop in-house that you are sure you have the support of the organisation and the staff with the skills and the experience to do so. Whatever the option you chose, be sure to collect as much information as you possibly can. Ask others what they have done in their community that has worked. Gain advice or referrals that will assist you in making the most informed decision for you and your potential community. Best of luck to you!

- Jon Nix and Pam Thomas
http://communityanswers.com
http://cornerways.com
http://cwlive.com
 
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