A new report from the Society of IT Management (Socitm) into the £4bn local authority IT outsourcing market says councils must do more to ensure effective management of contracts.
The report, “A marriage of convenience? A review of experiences from partnerships and outsourcing contracts”, is published in association with public sector accountancy organisation Cipfa.
One of its main findings is that too many arrangements labelled as “partnerships” are done so purely for political expediency and are not partnerships in the true sense
The report finds that partnerships can work, but in order for them to do so there must be a trusting relationship, which requires “care, effort and a good deal of 'give and take'”.
Socitm said that local authorities should avoid trying to outsource a problem with their IT. “Managing a difficult issue at arm's length is significantly more difficult than tackling it directly," said the report.
The report added that the procurement process is often characterised by naivety and a lack of honesty on both sides, can introduce problems at the beginning of the relationship. It added that “due diligence preparation before contracts are often not exercised.
Socitm said that too many contract or partnership management teams are “defensive, do not have the necessary skills, and are inadequately resourced”.
Socitm's Christopher Head, who prepared the report, said : “Management teams need to know what they are trying to achieve, and how they will achieve it, because partnerships are certainly not a 'quick fix' solution to any management problem.”