Many times during my three decades in this industry, I’ve got into discussions with people – both from the industry and outside it, on outsourcing. Their argument is that outsourcing’s more costly since layers of ‘middlemen’ need to be paid and that there’s a lack of control over the finished result - leading to a drop in standards over time. My argument is that outsourcing work in which you’re not expert - to qualified professionals who’ll ensure your site and business are clean, hygienic and safe for your employees and visitors, allows you to focus on your core business.
My experience and those of family members who’ve stayed in NHS hospitals over the past couple of years have left me wondering whether there’s another aspect to this, and whether sometimes contractors are offering services in which they’re not expert – perhaps because the client wants to outsource everything to one service provider? I’m not saying it’s ‘jack of all trades; master of none’, but think that perhaps during negotiations, people are over-confident about their team’s ability to perform ALL aspects the job equally well and that this can be damaging to not only their reputation but that of their client/s too.
Two years ago I enjoyed wonderful food, served on china, at a local hospital. It apparently bore no resemblance to that which had been served up until then, when the contractor’s catering failings led to it losing that part of the job. Catering was instead brought in house and is still proving a huge success. My daughter’s currently in another local hospital where the contractor's doing a great job with everything bar the catering. Reheated food comes in foil containers while ‘freshly cooked’ food is served in horrid compartmentalised plastic plates. Apparently it’s disgusting, (this is backed up by other patients & some of the staff we’ve spoken with) and means loved ones have to take food in.
As well as the extra contract cost to the NHS, it’s a waste of resources and everyone’s efforts. And when it comes to contract renegotiation, will an otherwise excellent services provider lose the contract because the catering’s letting it down? Might the replacement be brilliant at catering but fall short when it comes, say, to the cleaning – or is there an option to combine forces with a company that's better than yours at some aspects of the job? After all, it’s the ability to concentrate on your core business that allows you to do it well, isn’t it?