Outsourcing – Is It Working?

The viability of using external services rather than pulling purse strings and juggling resources in-house has always been a decision which is mostly made based on the answers to two key questions: what will it cost, and what will I get for my money?

The desire now to deliver the very highest of standards without breaking the bank is rightly high on the agenda for both the public and private sectors, with the outsourcing of certain areas of a business often key. But is outsourcing benefiting all involved, and is it money well spent? Paul Langham, Managing Director of Go Plant Limited, explains why many public and private sector organisations, as well as the general public, benefit from such relationships with specialist providers.

“According to the Local Government Association for example, there are around 416 shared service arrangements across England alone, resulting in £462million of efficiency savings, which makes it clear that the public sector is saving expenditure against respective budgets.

Despite these figures, there has long been a debate surrounding the outsourcing of specialist services by the public sector in particular, with many actively calling for details to be made more transparent, to enable individuals to review just what their well-earned money is being spent on, and to make the Government lessen its advocacy of outsourcing.

However, what isn’t often considered is the scale of costs associated with not only purchasing high specification products and equipment needed to undertake jobs well in-house, but the continual operational costs, including labour. And that’s not to mention the maintenance costs of keeping equipment operational, up-to-date with the latest legislation and required standards, or expansion of fleet as a result of increased demand.

In the sweeping industry for example, it’s proven time and time again more cost-efficient not only for the public sector, but the private sector too, to call on specialist fleets of vehicles when needed rather than to manage the variety of responsibilities that come with taking them in-house. This cost saving is proven across many areas, from environmental obligations, staff training and development, to expansion and enhancement of existing fleet, meeting industry standards and legislations, and providing quality.

From an environmental perspective, as a company we place a strong emphasis on reducing our carbon footprint, and it’s our responsibility to actively look for ways to do this. Once we can achieve a more sustainable solution, we put practices into place and invest in highly-effective products, operations and equipment, and we can subsequently pass our sustainability efforts onto to our customers.

For example, we don’t just sweep up and collect dirt from roads, highways, or construction sites, and then dispose of it, but we carefully segment the collections from our sweepers and recycle materials which otherwise could end up in landfill. Our state-of-the-art Gritbuster system has been installed at our West Midlands depot and allows us to recycle up to 92% of road sweepings and gully waste that we collect, with plans to roll out the system across all of our UK depots.

For in-house street cleaning operations, it would prove extremely difficult to invest in such a high degree of sustainable machines and equipment without feeling the very real pinch to the pocket and without the potential need to divert funds away from other vital services such as social care and emergency services.

The need for organisations to invest in training is costly and can be mitigated by using an external provider. The training and development of our team to operate Go Plant’s extremely high specification, complex machines and fleet is of vital importance and we’ve chosen to invest in DCPC for all of our drivers, and have introduced handheld PDAs to streamline processes for our drivers and office admin staff, which in return has enhanced satisfaction amongst our customers nationwide.

Being able to offer guarantees of a high quality service is of course important in the decision of viable outsourcing arrangements. Established private organisations such as those working on major construction works and highways projects, for example, will not focus solely on cost but on the guarantee that the provider they use meets stringent supplier criteria and guidelines, and is recognised by leading professional bodies, organisations and accreditation which meet their own standards, including ISO, CHAS and the British Safety Council. It’s a commitment to our industry and to our clients that we do take things seriously, and are recognised by many leading bodies. It’s this investment in our quality that has enabled us to grow and thrive, and that gives us a major advantage in an extremely price-driven and competitive industry.

Outsourcing ultimately enables companies to work with specialist service providers which are committed to the same high standards, and this ability to choose is continuing to enable public and private organisations to raise their own standards of services, whilst keeping costs under control. This, combined with the flexibility, reliability and availability of outsourced services, is continuing to play a major part in the success of many projects and obligations,” Paul concluded.