How to rid the public sector of outsourcing failure
Better and clearer standards for outsourcing management and providing public sector contract managers with the tools they need to align themselves with outsourcing best practice can help, says National Outsourcing Association chief executive Kerry Hallard
At a time when an unprecedented number of government organisations are choosing outsourcing to improve their services and help alleviate the impact of funding cuts, the media's coverage of outsourcing has rarely been more negative. Cornwall County Council and BT, the NHS in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, the Ministry of Justice and Serco, HMRC's Aspire deal - all of these contracts have been lambasted in the media in recent months.
Nobody is more disappointed than us to see high profile public sector outsourcing cases accused of failing. The National Outsourcing Association has promoted best practice in outsourcing globally for decades; we know, better than most, the benefits outsourcing can deliver when contracts are properly implemented and maintained.
The vitriol the media directs towards outsourcing is equally disappointing. It's always been the case that high profile contract failures make for popular news stories, but for every one of those stories there's a vast number of outsourcing successes that are not nearly as widely reported. The preliminary results to the NOA's latest survey found that 80 per cent of public sector outsourcers believe the media's negative coverage should be balanced with more success stories, giving UK taxpayers a more balanced understanding of how outsourcing serves their country.
That's why the NOA is launching a campaign to support public sector outsourcing in its time of need - the programme kicks off with our Public Sector Day on Monday 25th April, a free-to-attend event for public servants and other buyers of outsourcing.
Talks, interviews and demonstrations will be given by public sector savants, followed by free professional development workshops delivered by NOA specialists. Making the public sector abundantly aware of the different ways in which outsourcing can help them deliver "more for less" is the first step to turning around the UK's negative perception of outsourcing as a whole, and the Public Sector Day will do just that.
The NOA's survey also found that over 70 per cent of those directly involved with public sector outsourcing, on both the buy and supply-side, think there needs to be better and clearer standards for outsourcing management.
That's why attendees of the Public Sector Day will be provided with their own copies of the NOA's Outsourcing Lifecycle Model - a 120-page framework, tailored to benefit those that work in the public sector, that acts as a global standard for excellent outsourcing.
The Life Cycle Model has proven invaluable to many companies in the past, and has been used, critiqued and refined by over 200 organisations, ensuring that it remains the definitive guide for outsourcing best practice globally. By following this framework, public organisations will be given globally-recognised standards to follow, meaning they can properly apply the training they receive on the day and permanently embed best practice across all of their outsourcing contracts.
Attendees will also be given free access to the NOA's Outsourcing Maturity Index, an online self-assessment tool that summarises an organisation's outsourcing maturity level, highlighting outsourcing pain-points which they can act on.
The Maturity Index acts as a precursor to the NOA's full Corporate Accreditation Programme, the final step that will facilitate public sector organisations in their attempts to rid themselves of outsourcing failure once and for all. Corporate accreditation is a journey of improvement proven to yield increased value in terms of cost savings and service improvements, confirming competency and tackling weaknesses. There's no better way for an organisation to ensure that they're outsourcing to the best of their abilities, and demonstrate that fact to the wider world.
Public sector bodies that take full advantage of the free resources provided by the NOA over the next month will put themselves in the perfect position to undergo corporate accreditation and perfect their outsourcing approach. The BBC recently became the first public sector organisation to achieve full NOA corporate accreditation, passing with merit after rolling out the programme company-wide, end-to-end across 12 major outsourcing contracts, and a number of other large, high profile buyers of outsourcing are currently in the process of doing the same.
Of course, the NOA can't guarantee that the public sector will cleanse itself of all outsourcing failure. What we can and will do is provide contract managers in the public sector with the tools they need to align themselves with outsourcing best practice and maintain these standards long into the future. It's a tried-and-tested programme used by many businesses in the past to achieve outsourcing success.
Over the coming months, we highly encourage public sector organisations in the UK to take advantage of this rare opportunity and do the same, raising the general standards of UK public sector outsourcing and improving its reputation across the entire country.
It all starts at the Public Sector Day on Monday, where public sector contract managers will bring their award-winning outsourcing case studies to life: Ryan Creighton, head of donor services at NHS Blood and Transplant, will explain how last year his team used multiple service providers to create the number one blood servicing portal in the world; Paul Carter, commercial engagement lead at the Department of Work and Pensions, will talk about how the DWP has nurtured a collaborative, win-win outsourcing relationship with Crown Commercial Services over the past 18 months, and Teleperformance will explain how outsourcing rapidly expands The Environment Agency's capabilities when the UK is struck by flooding crises.
I urge all public servants to come join us, celebrate these examples of public sector outsourcing done right, and start their own journeys towards outsourcing excellence.
The NOA's public sector outsourcing poll is still open - start the five-minute survey .