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Phil Woodley, Head of Managed Services, Arqiva Public Safety group, looks at the benefits of outsourcing services and tackles some common concerns associated with outsourcing.
With the ever increasing financial pressures and the continuing development of technology, the implementation and management of support services and functions is becoming a significant undertaking for the emergency services. With the pressure to spend resources on visible activities, combined with technological changes which are happening at an ever increasing rate, many emergency services are now looking to specialists for more cost-effective support, as well as expertise and experience.
Better resource management within the emergency services is high on the political agenda. One of the Home Offices key aims for police forces is to invest resources in making policing more visible, accessible and responsive, and the final version of the Flanagan Report recommended how they can better use their budgets. Outsourcing non core functions to specialists is one way of creating greater efficiencies which can then be passed on to other parts of the organisation.
A misconception of outsourcing is that it will automatically mean job losses or the de-skilling of in-house staff. This is not usually the case with emergency services organisations.
When an outsource specialist is brought in to offer its managed services, it must adhere to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE). TUPE preserves employees' terms and conditions when a business or undertaking, or part of one, is transferred to a new employer. This means that not only will staff maintain the same pay and conditions, but with some third parties such as Arqiva they will have access to the career opportunities, training and development offered by large international organisations.
Outsourcing all or part of certain functions is a straightforward and cost-effective way for to ensure that their in-house team receives the critical support they need while letting the organisation focus on its main function. Outsourcing non core functions also makes it easier to keep up with all the latest technological developments, through working with independent industry specialists.
What functions can be outsourced?
A benefit of working with a third party specialist is that a modular approach to outsourcing can be taken from a fully managed service to specific support from specialist teams for key functions such as communications and IT services. This means additional resources will always be available for large projects or incidents as well as providing cover in the event of employee sickness.
Economies of scale
Outsourcing can save an organisation money because the contracted projects are continually re-tendered, meaning the supplier remains as cost-effective as possible. Additionally, outsourcing can result in huge savings in procurement using the right specialist company means receiving the benefits of its buying power and economies of scale. A specialist provider can leverage with suppliers because it is dealing with a large number of agencies, and these economies of scale can then be passed on, whereas an in-house team may lack the buying power to broker the best deals.
In addition, a specialist will deal with all hardware manufacturers, ensuring a wide choice of and replacement of dated technology with the latest hardware from across the board, compared to an in-house team, which may only have a relationship with one or two suppliers. It also means that an organisation has just one contract with the specialist company, rather than a series of contracts with different suppliers.
Outsourcing to a specialist also ensures that an organisation remains at the cutting edge of technology, without having to invest its own time and money in R&D. Put simply, an in-house team normally cannot innovate and develop at the same rate as a business that benefits from relationships with numerous software and hardware suppliers, which operates in many different technology sectors and has access to the best software and engineering resources.