Shared Services - latest excuse for a business case
Clyde Valley shared services We now have the latest excuse
for a business case for the Clyde Valley shared services
briefing on the initial business case is on the UNISON
Scotland website and sets out a range of concerns. The latest
version addresses few of these issues. The claimed savings
are based on some very broad assumptions.
Throughout the document there are some very suspicious
neat rounded numbers or percentages that give the clear
impression that detailed work has not been done. There is
also only a limited sensitivity analysis.
A big part of the claimed savings come from 'self-service'
delivery systems. Well you don't need a massive shared services
structure to introduce this and all it does is to displace
support service costs to operational staff.
It is therefore a paper saving that takes staff away from
service delivery. Other costings are very optimistic and
in particular redundancy costs.
They assume only 25% of the staff reductions will be achieved
by redundancy. Given lower staff turnover and other factors
this is an obvious under estimate.
An important factor would be office location, but again
the document is very vague about actual locations, referring
vaguely to a 'distributed model'. No vagueness about the
big budget for 'specialist expertise', or in plain English,
Even with these optimistic assumptions the financial savings
are still low for the investment required. There is no Equality
Impact Assessment. Apparently this can wait until April
2012, after the decisions have been made!
Same applies to environmental and climate change assessments,
statutory duties that are just ignored. Another key issue
is the organisational model. The business case rejects the
obvious best solution, a joint board, on the most spurious
The assessment uses some highly subjective judgements to
weight the analysis in favour of a public/public company
model. This is despite the strong track record of joint
board structures in Scotland (e.g. Tayside Contracts) and
the legal problems under procurement law of the other options.
They still brush over the VAT and Corporation Tax issues
with the company options. A cynic might conclude that this
is being done deliberately to push it into the private sector
as a second stage operation, claiming 'legal problems'.
The main argument against a joint board is the unknown
attitude of the Scottish Government. This is frankly bizarre
as the Scottish Government has spent £millions trying to
get shared services going and is almost certainly going
to be supportive.
Possibly the weakest aspect of the business case is the
workforce aspect. The document talks about engaging the
workforce and even quotes from the Christie Commission report.
As the business plan was developed without any staff input
this is a bit rich.
What the Christie Commission report highlights is the importance
of bottom up service design. This proposal is a classic
top down, one size fits all plan that ignores staff and
service users. If the authors had read all the Christie
report this is explained very clearly in s.4.47. 80% of
transactions using this type of service delivery model relate
to failure demand i.e. sorting out mistakes.
Rather than ensuring that when someone turns up for a service
they are met by staff who can help them through it. In summary,
this is simply the wrong approach to service design. Even
the private sector panel commented that it has big risks
with size and complexity. Councils are asked to take this
risk in return for at best modest savings. Even those savings
are unlikely to be realised due to optimistic assumptions
and cost displacement.
This plan has 'Edinburgh Trams' written all over it.