Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Paying for nothing in spite of austerity?

I remember some years ago a public sector organisation having to pay on-going and long-term costs associated with providing security relating to an asylum holding centre, yet the centre was never going to be used because planning permission had not been obtained. The organisation had to pay for nothing because a major project dependency wasn't in place before the contract was signed. It was a great example for workshops which most participants enjoyed and fitted into the 'stupid sourcing' category.

Then there was the new school which was no longer required due to changing demographics. Yet on-going long-term costs still had to be paid because a contract was signed prior to a robust review of the options and demographics. They were paying for nothing because a major project dependency wasn't recognised before the contract was signed. Another great example for workshops which, yet again, most participants enjoyed and identifies as 'stupid sourcing'. 

Then there was the new library, yes, all ready to go but without any books. Well, try to convince anyone that was clever sourcing.

Of course those case studies were from the hazy, halcyon days of plenty, long before austerity entered the daily vocabulary. Like you, I had assumed those days were gone. 

Yes, we still need to be cautious of stupid sourcing. So, simple lessons - have all your ducks, or approvals, lined up before you sign anything and don't sign contracts before you need to.

PS 20 May 2013 BBC Confirm planning permission for the Gloucestershire CC incinerator plant not obtained.


  1. We definitely need to learn from these mistakes... and I love the title for a course 'Stupid Sourcing' . I suspect more of this goes on than anyone realizes and what a savings opportunity to identify and remedy.

    1. Thanks Barbara, I'm afraid to can't claim the credit for creating the 'Stupid Sourcing' title, that honour goes to Peter Smith. My workshops were called 'Procurement Disasters of our time' - something which unfortunately just keeps on giving.