Does The Outsourcing Playbook Go Far Enough? | JCP News

Does the Outsourcing Playbook go far enough?

In the few weeks since the announcement of the Government’s new Outsourcing Playbook, we’ve had the chance to have a good read through, talk to our associates and colleagues and see whether its core principles are a good fit with the collaborative model of working.

Much of the content of the new Playbook is exactly what we need in government outsourcing projects. The book itself is the result of collaboration between central government and its suppliers, with a real commitment to doing things differently, and taking responsibility for highlighting where parties slip back into old ways.

Changing the way that government handles projects – whether they are delivered internally or with the support of private and third sectors – is no small feat. Decades of entrenched behaviours don’t get wiped out by the publication of a new set of rules, but new rules do start to influence behaviours, and that’s what collaboration is all about.

So, what are the new rules?

Designed to promote better project practice and a fairer, cost-effective, value-for-money delivery, the Outsourcing Playbook introduces several new policies. The ones we are most interested in are:

  • Should-cost modelling
  • KPI publication
  • Risk allocation
  • Resolution planning

These new practices are a step towards better working together, because they focus on good planning and preparation, clear and transparent targets and an understanding of what could go wrong and how to mitigate against those risks. From now on, external parties working on government projects will have a clear set of policies to follow, and those policies will apply to all government outsourcing. That in itself encourages consistency and clarity on both sides, which is a key element of the work we do on major projects.

Why we need more emphasis on collaboration

For those of us who promote true collaboration in large public, private or joint projects the Outsourcing Playbook doesn’t yet go far enough. Understandably, the government is focused on protecting its investment and ensuring that partners have the competitive, regulatory and financial safety guards in place to see a project through from start to finish, and deliver good value-for-money to the taxpayer. And the Playbook is a fantastic resource for government departments, civil servants and outsourced suppliers, ensuring that everyone is moving in the same direction.

But we believe that a greater emphasis on collaboration is needed if government wants to do things to the best of its ability. In particular, we would emphasise:

  • Defining the behaviours that will make the project successful
  • Assessing internal and external suppliers against those behaviours
  • Putting robust responsibilities and performance indicators in place that will drive the right behaviours
  • Aligning behaviours across all project partners

We know from experience that using a collaborative approach from the beginning of a project can lower costs and improve delivery – which in turn offers great value for taxpayers and improves the reputation of large government projects. What’s more, when projects are in trouble, bringing in a collaboration expert can help to diffuse difficult situations, help people to see how to work together better, and get things back on track.

A cautious welcome

We’re pleased to see the positive response to the Outsourcing Playbook so far, and we’re very supportive of its central aims and the work that has gone into getting this far. Now, we would urge government and its suppliers to push for collaboration to be at the heart of every project – large or small – so that even greater benefits are realised in the long term.

Why not find out more about JCP’s approach to collaboration?

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Notes to Editor:

JCP Consultancy Ltd was born out of John Carlisle Partnerships in 2002 with original board members and shareholders being: David Curtis, David Maxwell, Diarmid de Burgh Milne, Malcolm Newman and Simon Vaughan. Over the coming years both David Curtis and Malcolm retired from the business and in 2014 Diarmid left JCP to pursue new opportunities. For more information on the JCP board members and the company associates, click here.

JCP specialises in helping major clients, contractors and their supply chains realise the benefits of reduced cost, speedier delivery, increased profit and improved relationships from working collaboratively with each other. They have a 91% success rate in helping clients win work. The company has worked with leading names including Network Rail, National Grid, Highways Agency, Welsh Water, London Underground and Thames Water and with Central Government including DfT, BIS, and HMT Infrastructure UK.

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