Thursday, 24 September 2015

Bovaird on 30 yrs of outsourcing & free access to this important paper.

It was with enthusiasm I approached this paper: Tony Bovaird has been someone I've know for quite a few years; the introduction of CCT was one of the key milestones in shaping my career as it elevated procurement to a strategic role, albeit with the objective of retaining contracts 'in-house'; and, the make/buy decision remains a big question I am faced with when discussing Target Operating Models.

Bovaird's paper can be expected to become a core reference paper but it should also be of interest to practitioners, public and private sector - particularly those in the NHS concerned with the debate on Agencies 'Ripping-Off' the NHS - who have to complete an options appraisal on which procurement approach is most appropriate.  Remember, an options appraisal, as Bovaird points out, is not a once and for all event but something which has to be regularly reviewed. 

Bovaird provides a review of the various strategic procurement options from the introduction of CCT (Compulsory Competitive Tendering) through partnership working, strategic commissioning, prime contracting, and then insourcing.  He clearly articulates the comparative benefits of the purchaser/provider split - the make/buy decision. He also highlights questions over the effectiveness of joint-commissioning although he does not expand that to discuss the role of consortia buying. 

One line which Bovaird uses is particularly worth wider reflection: " the age- old lesson that the search for certainty and tidiness in policy is likely to come at the expense of inappropriate decisions". At a time when there is frequent discussion on the role of procurement in innovation, we have to be prepared for managed risk which will in turn sometimes mean, with the benefit of hindsight, that wrong choices have been embarked upon - that's not a word of caution but instead a call for recognising that the appetite for innovation must be matched with a similar appetite to risk.

In concluding the paper we are presented with 10 lessons learnt from 30 years of outsourcing - if you feel you haven't time to read the paper why not take the time to read the lessons learnt.
Public Money & Mangement, in view of its potential impact have taken the unusual step of providing advance free access to Tony's paper which can be accessed here.

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