Chairman Emeritus at The International Institute for Outsource Management Weighs In on UK Roundtable

Posted on October 26, 2010


As reported in a post last week, I participated in what turned out to be a very interesting and informative Roundtable discussion on Sir Philip Green’s review of the UK Government’s purchasing policies and practices.  (NOTE: for those who may have missed the live broadcast, here is the link to the on-demand audio portion of the discussion, as well as the full transcript, which can also be reviewed in the SlideShare document viewer below at the conclusion of this post.)

As the only North American invited to provide a perspective from this side of the pond, I found the discussion to be both open and therefore useful, something that is a refreshing departure from what is at times the close to the vest disclosure exercises associated with similar public sector dialogues here at home.

For example, I can remember the almost Spy vs Spy atmosphere during my research into the Veterans Health Administration 7 year, $650 million Oracle/JD Edwards implosion and the resulting Congressional Hearings surrounding the Bay Pines medical facility.

Of course north of the 49th parallel, where hockey rules, Tim Hortons coffee is the beverage of choice and our national animal is as renown Canadian author June Callwood put it “a flat-tailed, slow-witted, toothy rodent known to bite off its own testicles or to stand under its own falling trees,” government and open disclosure go together like oil and water or, Yoko Ono and the other Beatles.  In short, it is a “I would tell you, but then I would have to kill you” type of mindset.

So when the organizer for the UK Roundtable from the Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (“SSON” for you acronym lovers), shared the comments from Jerry Durant, who is the Chairman Emeritus at The International Institute for Outsourcing Management, I was again pleasantly surprised.

Offering a “precautionary note” on procurement frameworks, the Chairman Emeritus stressed that “they are foundation based and still require analytic thinking.”

He went on to add that these framework assessments “often times adequately measure operational delivery but are horribly inadequate in terms of comprehensive viability assessment (the ability of a company to sustain life).”

Mr. Durant concluded that “there are a lot of good examples of how NOT to do sourcing in the public sector by looking at the US,” several of which “were pointed out in the notes,” and that the public sector is “ripe with great sourcing opportunities to the benefit of society.”  However, one of the obstacles to this greater realization of societal benefits according to Mr. Durant is that “those administering are viewing sourcing as a commodity and not as a custom/specialized service (and that it’s not domestic based, if the sourcer has a local office).”

Interesting observations to be certain, especially the reference of “how NOT to do sourcing in the public sector.”  Although I would add that with 85% of all public (and private) sector initiatives failing to meet the expected results, the problems to which the Chairman refers are more global in nature.

That said and if I understand his reference to procurement frameworks as being foundation based, the premise is quite simply . . . we need to view all procurement through a new, more “specialized” lens of understanding that for most is a major departure from what was done in the past.

In this regard, I believe that the emergence of the non-consultancy model coupled with the advent of transactional-centric SaaS technologies versus capital-intensive enterprise-based applications, are the important igniters of the change to which Mr. Durant is speaking.

Here are two of the other more notable comments from Mr. Durant:

  • realized that most of the qualified suppliers will have to be tier 1 operators in order to support a government based initiative (purely based on scale)… so why mess with the smaller players without sufficient capacity and possibly weak viability?
  • wanted to relate that the present trend is to not put all of our eggs in one supplier basket in order to deminish risk and service impact. A unified countrywide approach may have some economies of scale but this might be offset by massive contract administrative issues. I know of NO tier 1 contract that has been carried out with little to know massive injection of VRM.

Jerry Durant

About Jerry Durant:

Jerry Durant serves as Chairman Emeritus of The International Institute for Outsource Management (IIOM) the only professional trade organization dedicated to Shaping, Developing and Qualifying the outsource service profession.  Mr. Durant has worked with companies in over 70 nations and is recognized for his over 40 years of dedicated service in the IT sector.  He started his outsourcing involvement in 1988 and during this time he has helped to assess, develop, and promote these companies into positions of leadership.  Publications such as Information Week, CIOZone, Outsourcing Insights (UK), Black Book of Outsourcing (Brown & Wilson), TEC Publication, and Testing Experience Magazine (DE) have printed his works on outsourcing and IT related topics.  Jerry serves as Senior Global Advisor to a number of governments and trade publications around the world.  He holds a Master Degree in Computer Science, Business Management and Accounting, was the lead author of the Outsourcing Management Body of Knowledge (OMBOK) and the Certified Outsource/Offshore Project Manager Designation.

Jerry’s presentations are characterized as stimulating, entertaining, insightful and appropriate for today.

As always, your thoughts and comments are encouraged.

Transcripts from Roundtable discussion: