Disc Duplication: The Make or Buy Decision
Optical media and its respective duplication equipment is no longer a lofty technology operated strictly by professionals. Duplication is within reach for countless purposes. It's for the videographer with a growing customer base, for the local musician with a budding career or the corporation that wants to send its employees a video presentation on a DVD.
Moreover, falling prices plus the increased ease of use and demand for technology have opened the door for everyday consumers like you to consider a make-or-buy decision when it comes to CD, DVD and even Blu-ray duplication. Make-or-buy means the choice between sending out your media project to professional duplication services (outsourcing) or producing disc copies with your own equipment and facility (in-house duplication).
Several variables need to be considered to measure qualitative and quantitative factors of disc duplication. Qualitative factors include items such as product and equipment quality, supplier relationships, creative control et cetera. Quantitative factors include cost and volume requirements. Inherently, there are benefits and disadvantages to both in-house duplication and its outsourcing to professional services. Among these pros and cons the duplication decision inevitably narrows down to your personal desires and how much you're willing to take on.
Consider in-house disc duplication (make) if:
- You like to be in the driver's seat. You want to take complete control of the media project's quality and the final artistic outcome.
- The cost considerations are calculated to be lower for long term use or high volumes of repeated duplication.
- You estimate a return on your investment for initial duplication and printer equipment as well as media supplies.
- You will be completing short-run disc production of 20 to 50 discs at a time. Affordable consumer duplicator and printer combos will save you in the long run, or give you flexibility when an outsourcing facility will not consider small orders or charge more than what your investment will cost you over time.
- You have existing space capacity to efficiently accommodate the media equipment and inventory.
- You encounter a lack of media suppliers and duplication services on par with your needs.
- You possess the skill set to operate and manage duplication and printing equipment.
In-house duplication puts you at a disadvantage if:
- You do not use the equipment and supplies frequently enough to justify the cost.
- Your budget is for a limited amount of equipment within a particular time frame which therefore disables you from keeping up with constantly evolving and innovative equipment.
- You have a limited amount of time and labor to put into duplication.
- You have a lack of expertise and knowledge in managing both the equipment and the duplication process.
- There is not enough space to store the necessary equipment and inventory.
Consider outsourcing (buy) if:
- You prefer to be the passenger. You want to minimize your involvement in disc duplication.
- You want to focus on another aspect of your business (like the creative elements).
- Duplication is not a crucial factor to your business model strategy. It's the by-product of the bigger picture of your business. Your business will or could function without in-house duplication and printing.
- Your preference in brand is narrow and could therefore limit client options within your duplication services.
- Obtaining and controlling your inventory or orders would be overwhelming; you do not have the time or manpower to maintain the flow of operations for the size of your needs.
- Media duplication and printing suppliers have considerably more knowledge than the acquired research and comprehension of you, the buyer.
- You discover a number of capable suppliers of disc duplication and printing services or products.
- You want a fresh perspective the creative aspects of your media projects.
The buy decision, or outsourcing puts you at a disadvantage if:
- The price of continual outsourcing for an increased demand in duplication becomes too costly for your business.
- You prefer not be at the mercy of another business service's timetable.
- You don't want to contend with costly duplication setup or shipping fees.
- The duplication company you employ does not execute your project to your standards. You have a desire to control production and quality.
Pricing considerations are at the core of the make-or-buy decision. Depending on which avenue of duplication you choose, each decision has unique and specific costs.
For the "make" aspect, you must take into account the costs of: a duplicator tower, a printer, consumable ink, recordable media and packaging. You must also budget for the maintenance or repair of broken duplication equipment-will you fix it yourself, outsource the repair or permanently employ someone to keep the equipment functioning? The cost of capital, manpower, delivery and replenishing inventory are other realities. Warehouse or factory overhead are also a part of the "make" price.
The "buy" decision has fewer individual costs, but they still must be calculated over the long-term to compare with the feasibility of in-house duplication. To outsource duplication, there are setup, artwork and shipping fees in addition to the standard purchase order. More importantly, you must consider the incremental costs from future duplication orders.
When you assess these costs individually and as a whole over the long term, you can more easily identify which business model will optimize your needs.