The challenges

Clients often ask “how do we know if our services offer Value For Money?”.

Contesting allows organizations to adopt a structured market based approach to test and drive continuous improvement in terms of cost, quality and customer choice.

The contesting process puts in house services under the spotlight of market based challenge and can range from specific process benchmarking to formal market testing exercises and at its extreme, full outsourcing. However the mere challenge of contestability itself can drive performance improvement and clients should not therefore assume that contesting inevitably leads to outsourcing non core services.

The key issues

Effective contesting requires a structured approach to be designed from the outset. Central to this is the definition of the key criteria on which market based challenges will be assessed. Examples can include:

  • what is the scope of contestability - ie ‘core’ and ‘non core’ services?;
  • what are the policy and operational implications of the various contesting outcomes?;
  • what are the business case components (including key financials and risk dimensions)?;
  • how mature and capable is the market?
  • what is the impact on customer service?

In addition, the contestability process itself needs careful definition to potentially encompass a range of challenges and outcomes, as well as the ‘rules’ for the process (for example would an in house bid be invited as part of a contesting process and how would this be managed?).

Our approach to performance improvement includes:

  • We bring a range of procurement, service expertise and outsourcing skills to each client situation;
  • We work with in house teams to develop both the contesting strategy as well as the key assessment criteria and the specific contesting journey – which sets out key trigger points for each step along the way;
  • We bring our implementation skills to bear to set out the most effective plan that manages the many people, process, technology and commercial issues in a way that minimises risk to both business performance and reputation.