Saturday, 11 March 2017

Songs of Praise procurement and avoiding unnecessary discord

Outsourcing has now hit the religious broadcasting arm of the BBC and not everyone is singing a happy song.

Some time ago we discussed the BBC's change of weather forecasting provider and the storm of criticism that brought criticism based on whether a non-UK provider could be up to the mark - let's remember that the BBC didn't produce the weather forecasting, merely the transmission of it.

Now the BBC has exposed the production of its flagship 'Songs of Praise' programme to competition, and as a result, it will be outsourced. There does not appear to be any suggestion that the Christian orientated programme will be produced by heretics. No, only that it will not be produced in-house.

Bectu, the union, are "[demanding] better transparency over how this happened"; others fear the loss of specialist expertise in worship broadcasting.

These concerns suggest that perhaps there was a lack of engagement with key stakeholders in the procurement process, and if that was the case, I think that was a mistake. Songs of Praise has built up a strong brand and loyal following since 1961, tampering with that could have been expected to have encountered resistance.

The BBC would be in a stronger position to address criticisms if it had:

  • Agreed with the key Church representatives the outcomes to be delivered from Songs of Praise in the future and how it could be improved;
  • Discussed with Bectu how best to deliver the desired outcomes in the future and provided some opportunity for the in-house provider to match those expectations within an agreed reasonable time;
  • Included Church representatives in the development of its sourcing strategy, development of its award criteria, and tender evaluation;
  • Consulted with Bectu on its proposed sourcing strategy and evaluation model;
  • Thoroughly debriefed all the bidders and Bectu on the outcome of the tendering process.
Big commissioning changes need to be supported by a change management plan if you want harmony at the end.

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