Best Practice Group

Do You Want To Make Your Strategic Vendor Partnerships Work?

71% of projects involving strategic vendors in IT, outsourcing, or shared services are delivered at double the budget and timescale. The information in this blog can help to prevent such outcomes.

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  • Improve the performance of your strategic vendor/partner
  • Get into new strategic partnerships faster and at a lower cost, but with higher levels of service outcomes
  • Build trust with your partners to drive innovation and lower costs in service delivery

NAO Report on Government’s Handling of Carillion’s Liquidation – 7 lessons learned

In a recent LinkedIn post, Joshua Reddaway‬, Director, Work and Pensions VFM and Head of Practice (Commercial and Contracting) at the UK National Audit Office‬ (NAO) talked about the new NAO report they had released on the government’s handling of Carillion’s liquidation. It “sets out the facts” relating to the government’s involvement in the handling of the Carillion situation, from its surprise profit warning in July 2017 to its liquidation.

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Is this the End for PFI?

Is this the end for PFI? In May this year an interesting article came out in the GCR (Global Construction Review) on the CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building) website, titled ‘Bye-bye, PFI: UK signals effective end of private finance initiative’. The opening paragraph stated: “Judged to deliver poor value for money, the UK’s once mighty Private Finance Initiative (PFI) has fallen into disuse.” But is this a fair assessment of

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Capita Agree Significant Failings on NHS Outsourcing Contract; PAC Interview Capita CEO

In June we wrote an article titled NAO Report: NHS England and Capita Outsourcing Challenges, 4 Lessons which looked into the outsourcing contract issues faced by both NHS England and Capita when they tried to transform primary care support services for around 39,000 primary care practitioners, including GPs, dentists and ophthalmologists. The NAO report at the time suggested that both parties had “misjudged the scale and nature of the risk in

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Is Active or Passive Management Best for your Outsourcing Relationship?

Is Active or Passive Management best for your outsourcing relationship

Academic analysis of the outsourcing sector would likely compartmentalise partnership relationship management into two clear camps – active and passive. In the active outsourcing relationship management camp, clients take an overarching governance role that some might say risks stifling vendor creativity and expertise; in the passive outsourcing relationship management camp, others could suggest, the client leaves themselves open to a litany of potential unscrupulous activities they are ill-prepared to cope with. So,

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NAO Report – Survival kit for major project relationships

When the NAO produces an analysis of key aspects of major project relationships, it is always worth taking note. The NAO report titled ‘Survival Guide to Challenging Costs in Major Projects’ is no exception. The UK government is working on some of the biggest and most complex infrastructure projects it has ever undertaken, not only in cost but also in time from inception to delivery. This will, by definition, increase

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4 Issues you could be contributing to that are holding back your BPO provider

Outsourcing any aspect of your operations is rarely a walk in the park. For anyone who’s ever been through such a project, the challenges, misunderstandings and potential for clashes when handing responsibility to a third party are likely to have been a source of much stress. Often, should such problems occur, it is found that they are rooted in four core issues – unmet expectations, specification details, challenges in communication

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3 Steps to Recovering from Poor Service Delivery by your Strategic Partner


Problems can arise at any point within a major strategic partner service delivery relationship. Life with a strategic partner is very much like a marriage – after the first year or so, when the honeymoon period has become but a happy memory, the on-going relationship will at times be not quite as smooth sailing as you intended it to be at the outset. It usually starts with little things like leaving

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The Smart Way to use Input, Output and Outcome Specifications to get the Most from your Suppliers


Large contract relationships are notoriously difficult to predict. Many will make it through to a successful conclusion, some will fail spectacularly and others will quietly underachieve. A common influencer across all of these relationships is the strength of the communication during the procurement process between client and supplier – something as simple as a small misunderstanding, or the misalignment of aspirations and expectations with the specification, can quickly become a

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8 Secrets to Better Outsourcing Relationship Management to Drive Savings

relationship management

Have your outsourcing relationships always followed a textbook flow from selection to management and finally to successful conclusion? Perhaps not; life just isn’t that simple. Critical supplier and partner relationships are difficult, complicated and ever-changing, and as the financial implications of expectations going astray can be ‘uncomfortable’, it is all the more important that you deliver the benefits of outsourcing relationship and contract management best practices – preferably to achieve

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NAO Report: NHS England and Capita Outsourcing Challenges, 4 Lessons

Outsourcing challenges, what can we learn from the recent NAO report into the seven-year contract NHS England entered into with Capita in 2015 and worth a reported £330m? The contract was to deliver the transformation of primary care support services for tens of thousands of primary care practitioners. The reported aims of this contract were: To reduce costs by 35% in the first year of the contract To reduce ongoing administrative

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Carillion and others: The risk of ‘step-in’ service providers taking advantage

Carillion and others: the risk of ‘step-in’ service providers taking advantage of you and what to do about it (A070)

With Brexit, local elections, superpower posturing and international poisoning scandals to push the news media forward, the troubles caused by Carillion will seem like a long time ago to most. But, for the company’s employees, its suppliers whose businesses relied so heavily on the outsourcing giant, and for the clients that found themselves at the mercy of the Official Receiver with their ‘Special Managers’, PWC, the sense of dread that started

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Agreements to Agree: Three Reasons why This Last Resort now has Legal Teeth

3 Reasons: Agreements to Agree now have Legal Teeth

Many pressures beset those responsible for large-scale projects, forcing them to choose between a fastidious approach to procurement and project management, and meeting the time restrictions or budgetary constraints they are often required to work under. These are the circumstances in which corners can be cut, in which mistakes might be made or in which people can be convinced to enter into an ‘agreement to agree’. We would urge anyone

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5 Reasons why ICF teams should shout louder about their successes

5 Reasons why ICF Teams Should Shout about their Success

There are two schools of thought on the best way to be recognised for your efforts in the workplace. Some are brought up to believe that hard work is all that’s needed – nose to the grindstone 12 to 16 hours a day, being the first in and the last out of the office, doing your job better than anyone else. This will surely win you the recognition you deserve.

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How to Structure Your Contracts to Drive Innovation


In some circumstances, the reality of strategic relationships can be far removed from the academic ideology of partnership perfection. There are many agenda, personality, and behavioural-led reasons why such relationships don’t always achieve everyone’s expectations. When we look for the reasoning behind such relationship breakdowns, they are many and varied and are usually specific to the individuals within the organisations that govern them. However, one of the common traits we

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10 Steps: To Figuring out if IT Project Termination is Right for you

10 Steps: To Figuring Out if IT Project Termination is Right for you

If matters have come to a head and no matter what you’ve tried, your IT vendor is simply unable to deliver its solutions to your expectations, then you may have to begin the process of project termination. This decision should never be taken lightly. Project terminations can be costly, disruptive and can leave you mired in legal red tape. Only after you’ve attempted to re-align the project, build trust and

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Is the strain of Brexit really behind excessive government contract extensions? 7 reasons to renegotiate your own agreement

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The government is under a great deal of strain at the moment; Brexit negotiations are ramping up, the local elections have just been held, and the latest controversy with Russia is reaching boiling point. So, it’s not surprising to have regularly seen and heard the political opposition accuse the government of taking its eye off whatever ‘other’ ball they wish to point at. The one we’ve heard consistently reported on

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How To: Build Trust in IT Project Relationships

How to: Build Trust in IT Project Relationships

If you have an IT Project that needs to get back on track, clear communication with your vendor is critical. For this to work, you need to build trust. Following the key steps below will help to ensure that both sides are clear about your expectations, that the system will be fit for purpose once implemented, and that your vendor knows how it will achieve this.  Executives who have not

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7 Outsourcing Contract Clauses to Avoid at all Costs

7 outsourcing contract clauses avoid at all costs

Outsourced relationships can sometimes be punctuated with opportunities for controversy. Among them, should you already be part-way through such a relationship, would be to ask yourself how much you trust your vendor, or for that matter how much they trust you. But ask this you must, for only once you know the answer can you then decide whether you did enough due diligence on your written outsourcing contract before you

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PFI Finance – 12 Tips to Control and Reduce Your PFI Costs

PFI Cost Control

The day to day pressures of managing a PFI contract tends to lead one to focus on operational issues, yet the importance of devoting considerable time and energy to keeping on top of PFI costs cannot be undervalued. Take a short term approach, and failure to keep sufficient PFI financial controls could result in a more immediate issue, such as there being insufficient cash to pay the unitary charge in

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Insource or Outsource? 3 key steps to decide the best route

insource or outsource

While large single supplier outsourcing relationships were all the rage a few years ago, we are definitely seeing a trend to either multi-sourcing or bringing services back in-house. The perception is that ‘in-house’ seems to be ticking the boxes On paper, the high-level business case often stacks up to recommend bringing services back in-house. After all, the perception is that all of the margin the vendor is making could be

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