Thursday, January 22, 2009

One for the Road

One of the things I like most about my job is trying to win new work. Four of us spent two days this week traversing the country to pitch for new contracts.

Our journey together actually began on Sunday evening. My new Director of Business Development, Paul Morrish, had, using his immense personal charm, got us all into our dark office late on Sunday evening to rehearse and perfect our presentations.

That done we headed down to Essex on Monday and, thanks to our late-night efforts, delivered a polished and professional pitch to the panel. I have attended many of these in my time and it was one of the strongest I have witnessed.

Then off we went, up the M11 and across the A14 and M6 to Birmingham. We were on first thing so, quite sensibly, we stayed over and spent the morning rehearsing rather than stressing whether we would get there.

Again, a bravura performance. Paul's orchestration of us all was excellent and, in Sue Lee, I probably have one of best people in the UK in terms of the specialism needed to win this work.

So, did we win?

We don't know yet. We should win at least one. The vibes were good in both cases. I saw a clear desire on the part of commissioners to get it right.

What could, however, stand in our way, are two things. Firstly, we are a dearer, higher quality option than most in our sector.

In the years of milk-and-honey, this hasn't hurt us but, going forward into recession/depression, I worry that "value" will now seen increasingly seen in pure pounds and pence, bang-for-buck terms.

Put simply, if our great presentations and willingness to discount don't win it for us this time, I will be very worried indeed about what the future holds.

Failure will, I think, mean we will have to reinvent our offer completely. A lot cheaper. Possibly not quite as good.

Conversely, if we do win, I will feel assured that there is a place in this market for our kind of propostition. Our high-quality, upper-quartile price model will be intact.

The second thing that could stand in our way, depending on how the land lies locally is that the incumbents are both local organisations that will, quite possibly, be imperilled if they lose these contracts.

I have known commissioners in the past to take no heed of this and procure the best service regardless.

But I have also known them to feel obliged to `shop local', particularly when an organisation is at risk, even when the proposition is weak.

This is something I don't like but it sometimes happens. These particular commissioners, however, seemed, to me, to be pretty sensible.

I just wish that telephone would ring.


Anonymous said...

I also head up an advocacy provider and agree with your views entirely (in fact you will recall our many conversations along these lines, what better place to share them than cyberspace!). The introduction of statutory advocacy was applauded by all including me, and our respective organisations grew even more on the back of it.
The downside was that the sector wasnt ready for professional tendering and a fairly parochial and win at all costs strategy was adopted by many providers. This resulted in low overheads and in some cases low costs and very litte 'management money' and 'professional fees'. I anticipated this knee jerk reaction and dont blame the sector due to its lack of senior level business experience at that stage. I blame some contracts officers and commissioners who do not fully understand what they are commissioning; and have little business experience or sense or concept of the longer term value for money, and high quality for service users adn sustainability that a higher cost brings. The value is in reliability and quality and sustainability, not simply in the bottom line.
In this respect the strides forward that the sector is making in this regard are being stifled by commissioning.
I completely agree with your view on "local is best" in commissioning; in the commercial world (to you and i a level playing field) this purchasing ethos would result in only one thing for the commissioner... a P45. Keep blogging Craig its really good.

Dragon Sourcing said...

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Dragon Sourcing