Friday, 29 November 2013

Procurement of taxis - get me out of here

What's the best way to procure a taxi service?

I suspect the custodians of the BBC are asking that question at the present. £10m a year spent on 350,000 journeys needs some sort of strategic approach. But users of the Beeb's Gateway Booking system seem to think the centralised purchasing system isn't delivering the best price. The examples cited suggest that buying locally, 'maverick buying', is approximately 50% cheaper.

Justifications used by the procurement department include: "we have to ensure that the companies used are both legally compliant and vetted, and this is done as part of the managed service provision ... we also require a 24/7 service which ensures broadcast criticality, full transaction reporting covering all journeys, ensuring we are compliant and can report our [tax reporting] obligations".

Virtually every organisation uses taxis and there are legal requirements for any taxi provider. It would be quite difficult in almost any part of the world I have been in not to find a 24/7 taxi service. I can understand that in certain situations there will need to be special provision for vulnerable passengers but why pay over the odds for all the other journeys?

There is always a dilemma when you try to take away flexibility and freedoms from staff, for example, their ability to hail a cab as an impulse buy or just when you need it as other options just won't work, so you can expect the odd example to be cited as part of the resistance to change, but why not just use corporate credit cards, claims expenses and, if it is abused, remove the freedom or tighten the controls.

I think there also needs to be some serious benchmarking discussions taking place with the providers. Something does not look right and the profession can avoid 'amateurs buy best' perceptions.

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