This argument came up on /r/consulting recently (reddit, you know!) when discussing the need for presentation designers:

by the time you write up what you want in the slides to hand off, and the time you spend reviewing and tweaking (or writing up what needs tweaked), you’ll have spent as much time, if not more, had you just done it yourselves (Original thread)

Here’s what I have to say about this:

During the past ten years, I have worked in all possible scenarios: spent years doing my charts myself (working with a master, chart libraries and plugins, of course), worked with graphics teams on site, remotely and offshore (India), and since last year I am back to an on site graphics team with very seasoned designers.

In my opinion, there’s two main positive effects of having a graphics team and two main conditions for them to happen.

Positive effects:

  • Better visual storytelling and expression – Higher QUALITY.
    Having a designer at hand means that I can be much more creative, don’t have to think about existing chart libraries etc., but just scribble and draft what I want to say. When you are not directly limited by the amount of time your chart takes to create, you can create better charts.
  • Saving time by having the “finishing” taken care of. – Higher EFFICIENCY.
    I might be quick in PPT, but not as quick as our designers who have done this for 15+ years, exclusively, and with very good training. For easier designs/layouts, I don’t scribble. I put the content and the rough form into PPT, don’t care about color scheme, alignment, sizes, etc. – send it over, get a perfect chart back.

The two conditions:

  • You need professional designers who have learned this craft and have experience in the field. Not all firms will be able/willing to foot the corresponding bill. Working with people too junior/amateurish, and you have hell to pay.
  • You need to train working with your graphics team. When I first joined my current firm, I really had to re-learn using this resource correctly. Luckily, our designers were forgiving and helpful. Without learning how to make your scribbles readable, being unambiguous in your comments, etc., you get stuck in feedback loops, corrections and misunderstandings.