Clipping what's left of the ticket
On TenderBy Lee Davis, Auckland | Monday, 29 October 2012
Outsourcing is a product of our time. The government is outsourcing everything. With SOEs, advisors and consultants, it's like the government is outsourcing the outsourcing of the outsourcing.
The fact we have this column is testament to the outsourcing culture that we have grown and nurtured around us. We sanctioned the government and everyone else to do this because it is deemed efficient and therefore better for business. The SOE is the ultimate outsourcing in that a few decades ago we realised that 90 percent of the employees within government departments did sweet FA all day long and then promptly went on strike if we asked why our drains were still blocked.
All we wanted was accountability. We wanted the departments to be reasonably efficient and at that time there were many private contractors who were putting their hands up shouting “Pick me! Pick me!” They told us that they could do these jobs for much less money than the ratepayers were being charged. And we cheered. Our rubbish bins were emptied for a fraction of the cost that the council refuse department did it for.
We are so entrenched in outsourcing that we assume it is the answer to all our woes. We don’t even question the ethos that our SOEs operate under when they start using slash and burn employment tactics to increase dividends to the shareholders, who happen to be us.
We continue to outsource in every facet of our daily business. So why don’t we just join them instead of fighting them? Because we can’t beat them. The government outsources its technology needs and in turns we outsource the supply of those needs to an ever-decreasing contractor pool so that we don’t have to worry about employing people around us. We must cut cost at all levels because spending money is naughty. Anyone would think they could just print more!
Our current problem is that we see our opportunities to grab some deals that the government is handing out by way of GETS or Tenderlink and we run around like blue-arsed flies worrying that we don’t have two weeks to spare to respond to a gigantic RFP.
The solution of course is to outsource the sourcing of the outsourced opportunity that has presented itself to us, the outsource suppliers. In other words, use an outsourcing company to respond to the outsource request so that we, (the outsourcers) can grab some outsource contracts and outsource them to independent contractors who in turn may use contracted labour, or simply outsource the entire project.
By the time the bill is paid there won’t be much left of the original ticket to clip due to the amount of clips in it. It may be ironic and it may be ridiculous but it’s happening.
For example, you can always pay someone to do it for you. There are some individuals with experience in tendering, and willing to help at a small cost. A company dedicated to this work is Auckland’s Plan A. It has a network of freelancers and full timers. The company seems to actually help compile RFPs, too, so they have knowledge of not only how to compile a successful response but what the original request is actually looking for.
The owner of Plan A, Caroline Boot says, “It’s a marketing cost and like any marketing costs you have to understand your market. You have to target the people who you think are going to buy your product or services and find the best ways of getting that business in a competitive market. People complain about the cost of tendering but it’s just a marketing cost that’s slightly different from taking ads out in magazines.”
So don’t do anymore work yourself. Just clip the ticket and enjoy the ride. Disclaimer: No part of this column was outsourced. It was compiled entirely by the author who works independently... as an outsourcer.
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