Bill Freear – True Value for Money

Bill Freear - Managing Director of Pilgrims Group Ltd
Bill Freear - Managing Director of Pilgrims Group Ltd

Writing for, Bill Freear, Managing Director of Pilgrims Group Ltd, discusses value and procurement. Bill writes: “When procuring contracts, in particular the supply of a security service involving engagement with visitors and the need for a high level of customer care, is the cheapest price always the best option or do you pay for that decision with an unfulfilled or failed service, subsequently asking yourself if this was true value for money?

“Over the last few years, price has become a principle factor in the evaluation of tender submissions and, whilst technical capability clearly has an important part to play in most end users’ minds and is often expressed as such in tender assessment criteria, the truth of this is not quite so simple to establish.

“Taking the cost element out of the tendering process and looking at evaluation based on other criteria, such as quality of service delivery, operational management proactivity, company support structures and company accreditations, many buyers find it difficult to see the differentials between competing bidders and therefore buy on price.

“This is not a surprise as many bidding companies simply put forward an aspirational ‘best face’ of their business and practices, regardless of any truth in the words they speak and the documents submitted. This seems to be common practice and is inadvertently encouraged by procurement teams who have limited knowledge of the security industry and do not seem to be particularly active in terms of due diligence. Some areas that merit better review are seen in the following:

“The contractor’s management teams responsible for managing the contract may be portrayed as sufficient in terms of numbers but, in reality, are often inadequate. There are many companies who will make assurances about the availability and pro-activeness of their operational management teams which, as a sound bite, is fine but the truth is that some of these managers will have portfolios of 50-100 sites and this challenges that statement of intent against what actually happens on the ground. Clearly having a large number of sites to manage will leave shortcomings in availability and proactivity and it doesn’t take long to figure the time availability of those stretched resources.

“Further to this, many contractors simply firefight and only engage with clients in the event that there is a problem, and even then will often prioritise the problems faced, delaying permanent resolution by putting in a temporary fix that, if not followed up, becomes a problem again. Others will provide all the reassurances needed and then promptly put the problem to the bottom of the pile until really pushed to resolve and usually it’s a case of those that shout loudest getting the attention. Is that acceptable to you and, if not, how have you ensured that the supplier has sufficient and credible resources?

“Ensuring that security officers are fully prepared for their role is another area that merits attention as the majority of companies will provide personnel that have no other training than their SIA basic job training and, in many instances, very little direction from their employers other than reference to often limited assignment instructions. Whilst companies will talk about additional training and workshops, the question those making choices should ask is ‘Where is the live evidence of any training and what are the positive results of such training?’.

“Another important area, often lightly undertaken, is the reporting of true performance of the contractor over and above key performance indicators which can often be fairly basic in detail. Is the contractor reporting everything and indeed are they aware of everything occurring on the site? If they are under resourced and unable to demonstrate in detail that they have full awareness and control of site activity, providing bespoke and useful reports, is this sufficient for delivering a quality service?

“When choosing a supplier true value for money needs to encompass many parts, including price and technical capabilities. However, it is incumbent on procurement teams, where possible advised by their security managers, to complete their own due diligence and ensure that their chosen contractors can truly deliver what they say they can, or is it simply down to price which isn’t necessarily true value for money.”

Pilgrims Group Website

Opinions expressed by contributors and commentators do not necessarily reflect the views of or Interconnective Limited.