back to article North Wales Police outsourcing deal results in massive overspend

Attempts by North Wales Police (NWP) to rationalise IT spending have backfired after a project aimed at saving them money by moving towards a single supplier went seriously over-budget. The police force hoped to save £700,000 per year by outsourcing multiple functions to a single (unnamed) IT contractor but wound up spending £ …

  1. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Let's think about this...

    You have a team of committed people doing their best to get the best deals for us, by choosing the best value from competing suppliers, for just the cost of their salaries. You replace ( or transfer) these to a company that will have no competition, has its own ( or adopted } staff with a whole layer of management who have no personal commitment to or interest in the service, looking after their own well paid jobs and making as much profit from the deal as they can for the shareholders.

    And it's a surprise that this costs more, rather than less?????????

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's think about this...


      I worked for a compant who had a fairly large development team but didn't see the value. they decided that the way to save money was to outsource the development to another company (lets call them SCS :))

      One of the conditions of the deal was that the exiting dev team was TUPEd over to SCS with their T&Cs intact.

      The company genuinely believed that SCS would be able to take on ALL of the development staff and carry out all of the development tasks for less than the company was paying its dev staff in salary...

      They were shocked when everything went through and they started getting £150k quotes for a new web service (1 weeks work at most).... but of course with all of their dev staff gone they now dont have a choice.

      Outsourcing just does not bring in the savings expected unless you are also taking a serious hit in the quality of service.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Let's think about this...

        There are cases where outsourcing makes sense.

        1) It's a very common, generic function that almost everyone needs. Eg payroll processing, banking, component manufacture.

        2) It's a one-off, high-skill design job or buyout component.

        Note how neither of these ever involve a transfer of staff.

  2. Steve Gill

    Typical Result

    When will management and the bean counters learn that there is rarely any real saving from outsourcing?

    Yes, it allows them to move the location of the costs on the balance sheet but the final result is so often the same - more cost and a poorer service.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Typical Result

      I bet North Wales Police were trying to reduce costs by having fewer contract/project managers. (1 contract needs fewer staff to manage compared to 8 contracts, right..?)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You post the reason why but don't understand that's what it is

      it allows them to move the location of the costs on the balance sheet

      Manager with costs on their part of balance sheet reduces cost = cut costs meaning big bonus. Manager with costs added to their part of balance sheet = bigger budget meaning bigger salary. Everyone wins, except the shareholders.

      Many companies have badly mismanaged IT that could be run for half the cost. But bringing in an outsourcing company won't fix that overnight, you still have to go through a lot of pain and expense to trim down the 1000 applications you use to the 100 you really need, the 20 different platforms to 3, fix your monitoring/reporting to get to the things that really matter and avoid all the noise that drowns out your ability to see those things, and so forth.

      Doing that with employees who have been around for years is hard because of turf wars, so it is seen as easier to outsource as a way to get that done. Problem is, those turf warring employees also have all the institutional knowledge that smooths the way for actually accomplishing those tasks, so getting rid of them merely trades one type of difficulty for another and it doesn't get cheaper to go through the pain, just politically easier.

    3. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Myst a call result

      I must have missed the article where the fire service gets better service from the please servus right

      Or did you not print that one.-?

      Theresa May makes April Fool look good. (Book my title in advance before I use it myself.)

  3. Halfmad

    I work in the public sector.. I constantly fight against outsourcing

    Not because I think it's bad in all instances but because the approach many in management have is that "it'll save money", not it 99% of the time won't if you want the same level of service. It's not a bloody charity and especially when it comes to IT all those little favours and "2 minute jobs" staff do will all be charged for at an extortionate price or even better use up your pre-paid support tickets that you for some reason decided was a good idea to sign up to.

    When I first moved into my current post I saved the organisation £115,000/year by having one contract ended and spending just 3 hours training our own staff how to repair laser printers, honestly that's all it bloody took.


    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: I work in the public sector.. I constantly fight against outsourcing

      I used to work in the public sector. My impression was that management would rather believe consultants/contractors as they were paid a lot more money compared to in house staff. It had nothing to do with the skill or knowledge.

      Yet they still refused to pay a half-decent wage to their own staff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I work in the public sector.. I constantly fight against outsourcing

        I used to work in the public sector. My impression was that management would rather believe consultants/contractors as they were paid a lot more money compared to in house staff.

        Well there's no difference in much of the private sector (particularly large corporates), where dopey managers and directors believe the snake oil salesmen, and then get shafted. I work for a business with UK turnover of several billion quid, and global turnover in excess of £100bn, and our main board decided to shake up all support services to "save money". Even the in house functions have gone to pot as a result, but the IT outsource has been a disaster, with worse service, total loss of flexibility and agility, and higher costs for the same thing. We pay more in two months to lease the kit in a VC-equipped room than I could buy the hardware for, and even with the kit on site we were recently quoted a cost of £3k to run a single one hour webinar to 100 members of staff.

        Don't get me wrong - outsourcing is a valuable tool, in that it is like a pay-per-use rubbish bin for business activities: If you really don't care how well a job is done, and you don't care how much it finally costs you, then outsourcing is your friend.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I work in the public sector.. I constantly fight against outsourcing

        "My impression was that management would rather believe consultants/contractors as they were paid a lot more money compared to in house staff. It had nothing to do with the skill or knowledge."

        It's everything to do with skills and knowledge. If the in house staff were any good they wouldn't be working in the public sector...

        1. KeithR

          Re: I work in the public sector.. I constantly fight against outsourcing

          Aw, diddums - still bitter because you failed your public sector toilet cleaner entrance exam?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I work in the public sector.. I constantly fight against outsourcing

      It's not just IT that suffers from this. During my very brief stay in the public sector the Wise Ones at the Top decided to outsource a large chunk of Facilities Management to a well known provider of Facilities Management services. It rapidly became clear from first hand observation, and from talking to folks in other authorities, that this contracting firm had a very simple business principal: No matter how the contract is written, whatever it includes, anything the client wants is "Extra to Contract" and will be charged for at the penalty rate agreed for messing around with the contract. Everything, always, was Extra to Contract.

      That was 20 years or so ago. So it is a bit soon for the public sector to have learned.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I work in the public sector.. I constantly fight against outsourcing

        Yeah, the cleaner who worked for us, knew the building and would sort of the mess and problems caused by the kinds of kids we dealt with, the age of the building , nastiness of the floor covering and so on was replaced with a cleaning contract. Which didn't, of course, contain any of the non-standard items that we relied on with a SLA that specified jobs that had to be done, whether or not they were a priority, and allowed too little time to actually get the work done. They charged for any extras that we really needed at an arm and leg rate. Far more than paying the cleaner for an extra hour here or there would have done in the old days.

        Not to mention the time we expended in checking the work, complaining if it wasn't done properly, explaining the job to another new cleaner every three weeks or so, regular meetings with the contract manager and so on.

  4. Sir Barry

    (unnamed) IT contractor

    2 minutes on Google and I found the press release from the IT contractor bragging about winning the contract.

    "North Wales Police selects XXX for a five year Consolidated Managed ICT Services Contract"

    So why are they unnamed?

    1. Rich 11

      Re: (unnamed) IT contractor

      Who? CGI?

      1. Sir Barry

        Re: (unnamed) IT contractor

        That's what I saw....

    2. TitterYeNot

      Re: (unnamed) IT contractor

      "So why are they unnamed?"

      Probably to prevent injuries to readers from busting a gut laughing.

      A client I work with has now outsourced much of their infrastructure management to 'XXX'. Prior to this, if they updated the application servers we integrate with, one of their support team would raise an internal change, speak to 'Fred' or whoever in their networks team, and new firewall rules or routing would be sorted out within a day, maybe two. Now the same work is outsourced to 'XXX', it takes a week or two, and comes with a bill of around £500 for every minor change, as it's 'extra' work. And that's if we're lucky and they manage to get it right first time.

      Might explain why North Wales Police are finding their wallets a little lighter than they were expecting...

    3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: (unnamed) IT contractor

      I googled your headline to get answer and 2nd result is this forum! Gotta hand it to google , even if you dont like thier world domination plans

      1. BebopWeBop

        Re: (unnamed) IT contractor

        North Wales Police already has a reputation as an innovator in the use of ICT, mobile services and outsourcing. CGI will be responsible for taking ICT services forward, designing and operating a modern infrastructure and working closely with the client team to design and manage an ongoing transformation programme. CGI's services and systems integration expertise will assist North Wales Police in the achievement of relevant operational and financial objectives.

        The press release is a blinder.

        1. arrbee

          Re: (unnamed) IT contractor

          Unless their financial objectives were to lose a shed load of money maybe someone should ask how they're getting on with meeting their operational objectives. (the police that is, not CGI)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: (unnamed) IT contractor

            It was an arm of CGI that was contracted to build the "Obamacare" government website on this side of the pond. They were shown the door in 2014.

          2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            Re: (unnamed) IT contractor

            meeting their operational objectives?

            Hard to say; they are not as potty about photographing men in cars as they are here but then I think that is true of everywhere not here. However the storm damage meandering down the line-shaft from large towns will have only recently progressed to the more rural reaches, as country folks give up calling on them, So comparing todays records with a busy cesspit requires a time-shift.

  5. Dominion

    "Supposed", "Expected", "Thought". Looks like this is simply not understanding the services being outsourced, and not having full costs agreed when signing up. I'd wager that the overspend is being charged for work that wasn't identified at contract bid / acceptance stage. A quick Google tells you who the "unnamed" supplier is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think that's fairly standard with outsourcing.

      New contracts are drawn up by people not directly involved in the services and they don't consult the people who actually do the job. So what gets put in the new contacts, does not generally reflect what is actually delivered.

      1st day after just about any outsourcing....

      * Client to newly TUPE'd team now working for new service provider. "Can we have XYZ please?"

      * Team: "Sorry, it's not in the contract."

      * Client: "But you did this last week/month/year, and it's critical to our business!".

      * Team: "No problem, detail your requirement and we'll have an estimate to you by the end of the week".

      * Client: "But we don't have any budget!".

      * Team: "You'll have to take that up internally with your account team. Have a nice day, bye.".

      AC: As I was in that team! (about 15 years ago!).

      Typical 80/20 split I'd reckon. 80% of the real work covered in the new contract, but miss the other 20%.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        But that 20% will be all the ordinary, niggly little details that will bring a team to its knees.

        As in, someone moves desk and needs a PC moved to a new location. But the contract was written by bean counters who never considered that people change jobs sometimes.

        Or there is a need for a new secure connection to a part of the building that wasn't previously used for that kind of work, because a team has been expanded and moved to meet new priorities.

      2. Richard Plinston

        > Typical 80/20 split I'd reckon. 80% of the real work covered in the new contract, but miss the other 20%.

        This is the actual 80/20 rule.

        80% of the work required is covered by 80% of the budget. The remaining 20% of work required takes the remaining 80% of the budget.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Ello, 'ello, 'ello, what's all this then ?

    "We chose our IT supplier on April 1"

    Did that not seem a somewhat portentous date ?

    1. frank ly

      Re: 'Ello, 'ello, 'ello, what's all this then ?

      The suppliers said, "We thought it was a joke so we didn't take the contract seriously.""

  7. Stephen 24

    PR LOLs

    From the supplier's press release back in March: "maximise efficiencies in ICT service delivery, releasing £3.5 million savings over the term"

  8. Known Hero


    Same job + middleman = higher costs ......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: soooooo

      some how government just does not understand that.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Same job + middleman = higher costs

      It wasn't always true. There was a time when doing almost anything in the public sector (including nationalised industries) involved layers of crap inserted by special interest groups. This system had evolved over previous decades with weak politicians repeatedly reasoning that spending a bit more taxpayers money was always easier than tackling the SIGs.

      When the time came for this insanely inefficient system to collapse under its own weight, transferring those functions out to the private sector actually did save money because the private sector wasn't doing the "same job" and was probably cutting out more middlemen than it inserted.

      Something similar was true in the private sector as well, with many distinguished names in British industry making so little money that they were actually worth less than the equipment they were using. The result here was asset stripping, where observant investors bought a company, sold absolutely everything, and walked away with a tidy profit.

      Sadly, in both cases you are dealing with a one-off. Privatisation and asset stripping haven't made much *financial* sense for several decades. Opportunities for asset stripping are extremely rare and privitisation only persists in the public sector because too many politicians are innumerate fuckwits who have somehow managed to get degrees in (politics, philosophy and...) economics without actually being able to count.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Same job + middleman = higher costs

        The _only_ way outsourcing should ever be considered is when the existing system is such a clusterfuck that the only way forward is to dump the department and start from scratch.

        And the outsourcing should only last long enough to rebuild the interactive systems. TUPEd staff you actually need can be quietly approached and better offers made.

  9. Christoph

    But - but - the consultants told us it would be cheaper!

    1. BebopWeBop

      No, they just took the relevant people behind the bike sheds and explained their personal ROIs would be a lot better if they hung on in there and OKd the contracts. After all they need somewhere to go post cockup.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's one born every minute!

    No-one ever saved money or improved service by Outsourcing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's one born every minute!

      "No-one ever saved money or improved service by Outsourcing."

      every time we get a call from an outsourcing company we get them to quote....they bring along a nice presentation and "figures" (mainly in % or "will save per year").

      when they go, I then ring and talk to the ground working IT staff and users at these places (Banking is a close community, someone here will always have "a mate that works at XXX")

      We have no use of outsourcers, never will but, like people that claim they can beat our current Printer suppliers, I let them talk then send them the copies of their customers internal complaints figures

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's one born every minute!

        John Finch turned up at the Bank of England. Watch him outsource IT in 5...4...3...2...

  11. AndrueC Silver badge

    I wonder if anyone is going to cop it over this fiasco?

    1. John Lawton

      A large new bill for the Old Bill

    2. Why Not?

      Fat chance, the bonuses have already been paid!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Motorists stay clear of North Wales

    From what I know of North Wales police, they'll try to claw it all back from motoring fines.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

      Alternatively motorists in North Wales could simply obey the law, then there is no risk of being fined...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

        "Alternatively motorists in North Wales could simply obey the law, then there is no risk of being fined..."

        No no its all an evil plot by the police to raise funds!

        They fined me doing 60 through a village a few weeks ago.. Bastards - wasn't even my fault i was watching netflix at the time and the tablet was obscuring the speedo - how is that in any way my fault..GOD. :)

      2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

        ... unless you get pushed. I got followed by one of North Wales' finest a while back, about a foot from my rear bumper in a 30 zone.

      3. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

        I often wonder about that while driving past Colwyn Bay on the Expressway. So many people ignore the 50mph limit and I doubt they are all ignorant tourists. Maybe the Police can't be bothered to cover their own backyard but I think it's a stretch of road that justifies a lower limit.

        1. TheProf

          Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

          Or change the name from 'Expressway' to something a bit more, say, pedestrian.

        2. cbars Bronze badge

          Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

          So people are already confident enough on that road to ignore a 50mph speed limit. Your argument is to lower that limit? To what end? Higher fines for the motorists?

          If there is a genuine safety reason for needing slower moving traffic on that stretch of road (I am not familiar with), then the best option is traffic management. Reduce the lane width, chuck a traffic light in there, or an overpass for pedestrians... I don't know.

          However I do know that reducing the limit on a wide open road only serves to increase infringement, not safety.

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

            Your argument is to lower that limit?

            Who? Me?

            No. By 'lower' I'm referring to the fact that's it's lower than the normal 70mph limit on a dual carriageway. What I'm saying is that the 50mph limit on that particular stretch is correct and that people should adhere to it. Short slip roads, most of which are unsighted until the last minute and a lot of local traffic popping onto the bypass just to get from one side of town to the other.

            Absolutely it should have a reduced speed limit (as it does) and it's a shame so many people ignore that.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

          I remember going past that area very early in the morning to get to London. I saw a police vehicle enter the slipway for Colwyn Bay, then come back down again to see if we broke the 50 limit. Absolutely sneaky *****

        4. SniperPenguin

          Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

          Being a Colwyn Bay local, I can answer that one (Disclaimer, I used to work for Traffic Wales - Think Highways Agency for the Welsh).

          The 50mph zone on the A55 through Colwyn Bay sits between to 70 zones. The only reason it exists is because the slip-roads are "too short" in theory and therefore you couldn't possibly accelerate / brake in time if the roads were 70mph. Of course, this is not true of vehicles of this century so is mute.

          There has been talk of fitting average speed cameras, but the revenue was not deemed sufficient (in a rare case of defending cameras, they are not ALWAYS fitted by the traffic agencies or police on major roads - Sometimes they are fitted to slow down traffic during an extending period of roadworks, say during the North Wales tunnel upgrades.)

          So unless plod sticks a car with a camera on the Rainbow bridge (or hides up the sliproad of Colwyn Bay), cars just carry through at 60mph...

      4. Captain DaFt

        Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

        "motorists in North Wales could simply obey the law"

        And if that happens, I'm positive that North Wales will simply add/change laws until a satisfactory number of drivers are in constant violation.

        (At least it's the way it works in my part of the world.)

        1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          How it works in his part of the world.

          > Stay clear of North Wales

          It only has one road and it goes everywhere then comes back the same way. That should make for easy police work no?

          You could almost say it is a digital system. Full of ones and zeroes

          I have not been home in a long while so maybe things have improved?

          Sounds like it has gone English.

    2. Super Fast Jellyfish

      Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

      The last Chief Constable used to go after motorists every chance he got; I thought things had got better since he left.

      1. DocJames

        Well this is disappointing

        I had assumed that reg readers would be aware kinetic energy = mv2, but clearly through all the posts above this is untrue.

        I suppose another option is that reg readers presume that everyone else is so much less important than them that the risk of death/injury to unknowns is acceptable in order that they can speed.

        There aren't too many other plausible alternatives.

        And just to remind everyone (to gain additional downvotes with a further intrusion of reality) speeding fines aren't hypothecated.

        1. Scott 53

          Re: Well this is disappointing

          Reg readers are aware that kinetic energy= mv2/2. Welcome to the site.

          1. DocJames

            @ Scott 53 Re: Well this is disappointing


            I reiterate the (general) point though: when someone is hit by a vehicle, the damage to this person is proportional to KE and therefore to velocity squared. I have to patch them up afterwards, and wouldn't mind this workload being reduced.

            Have a virtual one (this may have been the underlying cause of my error :)

    3. Blank-Reg

      Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

      First I'll say that I'm not condoning speeding. However, I will ask some of those sanctimonious posters above whether this or this is actually in the spirit of police principles? How are those acting to prevent speeding? What do they do to reduce idiots blasting through a posted 30mph village at 50? Sure, you may catch the idiot, clobber him with a fine and points (good for the coffers and stats) but he'll still have speeded. Or do North Wales police think that convictions are a more successful measure of their policing instead of a reduction in the amount of speeders?

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

        The first of those links was a speed camera at the side of the road.

        Why should speed camera locations be advertised from miles off? Global compliance isn't aided by saying "We only check here".

        The second is to do with speed cameras being operational at night - when arguably you should be doing less than the speed limit anyway since your visibility is reduced.

        The problem is not with the police catching people speeding, it's with the courts not enforcing bans:

        Easy solution to not getting banned. STOP SPEEDING.

        I'd rather went for a "one week ban on first offence", then 2,4,8... system.

        It might make people think a bit about their speed. Combined with a 10% of monthly income fine... and you might be motivated to stay within the posted limits (they're limits, not targets)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

          @John Robson

          If you're arguing that people should be banned for speeding, and all the accompanying potential problems, loss of job, loss of family, etc then the rule breakers might as well commit a proper crime if their life is going to be ruined. Presumably you're unaware of the saying hanged for a sheep as a lamb?

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

            @AC: I am aware of that saying - If you really think that being banned from ONE form of transport for a week would lose you your job/house/family then you need a reality check.

            Sure the bus might take a bit longer, or friends might have to collect you en route to work. That's the point - driving is not a right, it's a privilege.

            By putting everyone ELSE's lives at risk (which is what you are doing) then you are demonstrating that you are not fit to keep that privilege. Driving is the only obvious situation where people are allowed to take a lethal weapon into public and operate it in close proximity to the general public...

        2. Blank-Reg

          Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

          Way to miss the point chap. Again, hidden cameras will not stop dickheads from racing down roads. They'll get caught and clobbered (how they are clobbered is mute - fine, ban, points, whatever). But, as is quite evident, there's an endless stream of idiots all too happy to follow them. So, my point: how do hidden cameras help deter dangerous driving and/or speeding? They don't. They're crap, immoral and echo the model of policing that was used before a certain Mr Peeler came along.

          By following the "convictions (or arrests) = success" model, you aren't reducing or eliminating speeding, just convicting and fining.

          Speed cameras and their positioning are rightly criticised in the UK. And for good reason. They are hardly ever used as an obvious, visible deterrent but instead hidden behind signs, inside innocuous objects and generally used as traps to punish the foolish, the confused and the inattentive who didn't spot the single sign indicating the speed change and all round generally generate plenty of revenue.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

            "But, as is quite evident, there's an endless stream of idiots all too happy to follow them. So, my point: how do hidden cameras help deter dangerous driving and/or speeding? "

            Well, it would increase the likelihood of detection significantly - and that would mean that people wouldn't expect to get away with it.

            It wouldn't take long for people, even the idiots you reference, to work out that if they speed then they *will* get busted, and therefore pay the appropriate price.

            At that point it becomes an easy decision NOT to speed.

            Currently the chance of detection is so small that there is no deterrent value.

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

        > Another 5,610 were caught by officers with hand-held laser devices.


        They were using handhelds in 2008?

        Seriously. And the victims were allowed to be fleeced by a courtroom that must have known that any copper could vary the speeds he was getting by waving his magic wonderer?

  13. Mikel

    Invest in organic intelligence

    The cost savings of hiring someone who knows what he's doing to vet these suppliers and solutions is remarkable. One $100k guy can save hundreds of $millions.

    Which is why they don't do that.

  14. Zog_but_not_the_first

    Call me stupid...

    But if an organisation is going down this road, why don't they tie the snake oil salesmen's "solutions provider's" remuneration to the claimed savings?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Call me stupid...

      Including the "If not realised, we take your liver" clause?

  15. Bluenose

    Not always down to the outsoucer

    The problem with outsourcing and quite often with those who criticise it is that the actual party looking to outsource a)does not know what their IT people do, b)has no idea of the true cost of IT and c)gets rid of the people to manage the outsourcer because hey there is no IT department to be managed anymore.

    For example someone asks for a one hour webinar and gets charged £3,000. Or you can actually break the task down in to its constituent parts; someone spends couple of hours finding out what it is that the customer actually wants rather than the vague statement a webinar on Software as a Service; then they write a presentation for a couple of hours to make sure it meets the requirements that were provided and then they prepare for the presentation to make it polished and professional. Suddenly the one hour webinar turns in to a whole day piece of work (and note I left out all the stuff about finding out whether the customer's own infrastructure supports webinars in the first place).

    It is the same with light bulbs. What's that I hear you say £60 to change a light bulb that's a rip off. Of course if there is no one to buy the light bulb, no one to find someone to go and change it, no one to order a replacement for the failed one so that we have one in the cupboard for the next one to fail rather than waiting until someone pops to B&Q to buy one (which of course will a 2 hour round trip).

    Outsourcing works for companies who know what their IT departments do, the value they provide the true costs of providing that service and the tasks and activities that take place in order to deliver the current in house services. The problem is that such companies are few and far between.

    And the problem with having lots of companies doing different bits of work is that someone needs to manage them all and that, in today's public sector, means getting a SMI in to that job.

    The UK Govt keeps pushing outsourcing because of an erroneous belief that private is best. this has been a driver for years and explains PFI as much as IT oursourcing. The problem is that outsources inherit the same "inefficient" staff that the Govt claims exist in the public sector which is why outsourcing will be cheaper in their view and they also inherit the same inefficient customer who doesn't know what they need in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not always down to the outsoucer

      Two main drivers for PFI :

      - hide government expenditure by an accountancy trick that puts it "off balance sheet" so that the headline numbers look better

      - wealth redistribution

  16. Triggerfish

    We thought?

    We thought by bringing it all into one contract, rather than having seven or eight different contracts, it would save money. But the bills are coming in and they are not saving money and actually costing more,” the North Wales

    Did no one do any actual sums then?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    The thing about single-source contracts is...

    Once you're locked in, they lock on...

    Sounds like a really bad case of management not understanding what IT employees/suppliers did for the North Wales PD previously, so the SoW was incomplete when it was bid on, so now there is a lot "Well, that's not in our contract, but for 30 billable hours and a few thousand, we can update the firewall as you requested."

  18. We're with Steve


    Unless you are really good at producing requirements you will get mugged by outsourcers.

    If you are really good at producing requirements you won't need to outsource as you will be delivering successful projects already.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Requirements

      If you are really good at producing requirements you won't need to outsource as you will be delivering successful projects already.

      I think you miss the point. It's not about how well the in-house team perform. It's about the Brass thinking or being persuaded that the in-house team is a cost that can be magically reduced, or at least tidied out of the way.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what's the problem?

    After all, the due diligence was in place, i.e. the force wanted to save x, and thought they would (that's the due diligence bit). They lost y, oh well.

  20. David Roberts

    Just checking

    Was the outsourcing to manage the same contracts and the same staff and magically save money?

    Or was it to reduce the number of supply contracts e.g. get down from 8 to 2 suppliers?

    If the latter there might be eventual savings, however during the time you are running the old system and implementing the new system your costs will obviously be much higher in the short term.

    Sounds as though someone said the equivalent of "we can replace 8 systems at 100k each with 2 sysyems at 250k each - there you go, 300k saved ". Without the magic "from year 3 onwards" or "there may be some additional short term expenditure during switch over".

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why did North Wales Police need to go the bother of outsourcing? They'd already found another wheeze to throw their money away, namely hand over £23k/month to a mobile operator (almost certainly Vodafone) for doing nowt! Cool £560,000 in total - although this might have to get repaid now?

    1. Super Fast Jellyfish

      mobile contract

      The fact they got a refund was in the article

  22. Super Fast Jellyfish

    Gog Wars

    So the Force has Awakened to the foolishness of outsourcing

  23. a_yank_lurker


    If the function is internally critical it must be done in house. Working for a multi-national company, we learned this lesson years ago. My colleagues out of country ultimately report to the same manager as my group. If resources need to be used on a critical internal project some of us can be readily assigned. Also, routine matters will be handled by all in timely manner because there is no third party who has a more critical contract managing the staff. In reality there probably is less management direct interaction because there less to manage. Routine matters get handled by the staff internally without fuss and important matters get management's attention it deserves.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Dumbsourcing

      "In reality there probably is less management direct interaction because there less to manage."

      Unhh... I sense... a disturbance in the workforce. It's as if a million middle managers cried out at once, "Well fuck that!"

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Allo Allo Allo, what's all this then?

    Crikey, we've been robbed, call the old Bill.

    Umm Gov', that's us...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they're not "thinking of the children" then?

    Since this will presumably result in less bobbies on the beat.

    Good job no one will be held to account :/

  26. Trad3r

    They should learn from the NCA...

    The only unbelievable part of this story is the astonishing regularity that the public sector keeps getting burnt!

    If the comments are correct then North Wales have the same prime contractor as the NCA and they have utterly woeful problems - IT systems that are outdated and flaky, an unrealistic budget for the contract and a supplier who probably regrets ever getting into the deal.

    There are a few places in government that seem to make a good fist at IT procurement and management but they are truly few and far between.

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