Negotiating a good deal with the Government!

November 5, 2013

Drive a hard bargainBlue-plate had the recent experience of supporting a client’s bid team in responding to a Cabinet Office Invitation To Negotiate (ITN) in respect of a large scale outsourcing contract.  An ITN response is developed in dialogue with the Cabinet Office to enable them to select a preferred supplier offering the best  win-win sustainable deal for the UK Government. This was a new experience for Blue‑plate and the lessons learned for future ITN’s included:

  • Understanding the Government’s objectives – The need to fully appreciate the Government’s objectives for the contract both commercially and politically.  These objectives will be set-out in the ITN but will need to be fully explored and clarified during the face to face dialogue sessions.  A consensus understanding within the bid team helps to prioritise the requirements and how they can be managed within the context of a commercial response.  The political drivers may be less transparent but will surface during the dialogue sessions and provide a deeper understanding of the context for the ITN.  As well as the financial objectives of reducing costs, accessing private sector capital and expertise, the Government will also be keen to avoid the political risk that may arise from direct accountability for any consequent organisational restructuring and selecting a supplier with a tarnished brand.
  • Obtaining early clarity and agreement to the strategic fit and risk appetite – At an early stage in the response process, the bid team must manage their own internal stakeholders, governance and oversight processes for the bid.  A key element will be to ensure that the risks and potential range of the up-front investment costs are fully appreciated at the outset, in order to avoid the embarrassment of cold feet during the later phases of dialogue.
  • An integrated response – There will be a number of workstreams and subject matter experts engaging with the Cabinet Office concerning the various aspects of the response and contractual terms and conditions.  These workstreams may include legal and commercial operations, technology, human resources, finance.  An overall bid and project manager will be required to co-ordinate activities and  ensure that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing; especially when working at pace to tight drop dead dates.
  • Resources – make sure that the right set of capabilities and resources are available throughout the process, taking account of holidays and other contingencies.
  • Clarity not word count ???????????????????????????????????????????????????make it easy for the Cabinet Office to understand the response in relation to the exam question.  Keep the language simple in good English and well signposted as to the flow and key points.
  • Negotiate – Last but not least is to take advantage of the opportunity to negotiate the best deal.  The Cabinet Office will be keen to understand a bidder’s commercial drivers and to accommodate them where sensible and possible to do so.  The Cabinet Office team in dealing with a number of bidders can quickly spot common concerns that they may address directly with each bidder or in revising the ITN.  The best deal does not mean the cheapest price but will be a mix of price, political risk, supplier brand, quality and confidence that the supplier can deliver over the long term.

Bloomington, Luxembourg and No Change in 800 years

May 17, 2013

May 2013 Newsletter

All change at the FSA

From April 1st the Financial Services Authority was no more, having been split between the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority.  Read more about what has changed and will it work to prevent more PPI scandals at The New Regulators are No Joke

Foreign travel

Bloomington Indiana

I had the pleasure of attending a KeyneInsight (  Strategy Execution Management workshop in Bloomington Indiana.  After negotiating trains, planes and automobiles in getting to Bloomington from the UK, much was learned from the experience of other Keynelink distributors including, the benefits to Keynelink clients of:

  • a complete audit trail and details of performance progress meetings held between a manager and their subordinates. Such information has been successfully used in defence of legal actions taken by disgruntled employees.
  • leadership and management development, for example.

–  the power of having visibility of whether and how the key strategic initiatives are being supported and progressed throughout the organisation.

–  promoting regular conversations between managers and their subordinates.

  • turnarounds – where Keynelink is a key enabler in supporting a successful turnaround


Luxembourg is a less complex trip than Bloomington and resulted in an enthusiastic response from a Life Assurer for Keynelink to support their current performance management system in providing:

  • Transparent structure and process

– clear alignment with strategic objectives and values

– consistent process discipline

– comprehensive metrics to maintain alignment

  • System support and data repository

– dynamic, fully-operationalised role definitions

– audit trail of issues

  • support for development of excellent management practice
  • evidence for contentious actions

High School

A similarly enthusiastic local high school wants a speedy implementation of Keynelink to support the management of support staff in performance appraisal system, culture change and provide the Head and Senior Management Team with transparency on progress with the strategic initiatives and individual performance.

Every organisation has a Strategy Execution Management “system”

…most don’t work and look something like this…

SEM Process


What does yours look like?

Target Operating Models

A recent project generated some new thinking in applying private sector target operating model concepts to a consumer protection focused public sector regulator subject to major change.  The top 5 lessons learned included:

  1. The customer value proposition through which a commercial strategy is operationalised must be considered in terms of the regulatory lifecycle; being the types of interactions that the regulator will have with the regulated community and the consumer.
  2. Strategy encompasses not only the governing regulations but also more importantly the way in which the regulations are to be applied.  It is this regulatory approach which is operationalised through the design of the target operating model and the regulator’s risk appetite and available resources.
  3. Think process not silo’d functions.  This is no different from a commercial TOM but the challenge is in how any new powers and the regulatory approach will be supported in a seamless way across the organisation and its boundaries.
  4. The relationships with other members of the regulatory family must also be considered and coordinated.
  5. Complete focus on protecting the interests of the consumer while fairly balancing the costs and impact on the regulated community.

Rules for the Conduct of Life

In a ceremony dating back to the 13th century, new Freeman of the City of London are presented with a Freedom certificate and a small red book of Rules for the Conduct of Life. The rules are for the use of “such Freemen of London as take apprentices”. Rule XXVI states that

“Where you are not able to finish a business without the help of others, call in speedily such persons to your assistance as are fit to be employed in it. The more hands are employed, the more work is done; provided they are managed in such good order as not to be a hindrance to one another.”


Jeff Herman

The New Regulators are No Joke

April 12, 2013

April 1st was not only April fools’day but also saw the split of the tarnished Financial Services Authority into the  Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), now  part of the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) an independent regulatory body.  Will the new regime prove any more effective than the old?

Having played a small part in the design of the FCA I hope to help answer the question – so what’s different?

Same regulations

Both new regulators will continue to operate under the same statutory remit, FSMA 2000, as amended by the Financial Services Act 2012.  There are some new powers, but the real change is clarity of focus and a far more proactive and risk based regulatory approach.

The PRA under Andrew Bailey (he used to sign bank notes for a living), is focused on two key areas:

  • the financial integrity of systemically important financial services firms, (estimated to number around 1,700) and
  • the overall stability of the UK financial services market.

These firms are effectively dual-regulated by both the PRA and FCA, each acting independently, but co-ordinating their activities where appropriate.  The balance of firms that are not dual‑regulated, estimated to number around 23,000, are now solo-regulated by the FCA alone in respect of both financial stability and conduct.

The FCA, under its CEO Martin Wheatley, has a clear focus on consumer protection with the key aim “to ensure financial markets work well so consumers get a fair deal”. To do this, the FCA must

  • protect consumers
  • enhance the integrity of the UK financial system and
  • help maintain competitive markets and promote effective competition in the interests of consumers

A different approach

The change is intended to get away from what was perceived as a box-ticking regulatory approach to one that is more proactive with the consumer and integrity of the financial services market at its heart.  It should be borne in mind that the definition of consumers is very broad, encompassing not only the likes of you and me who have bank accounts and insurance policies,  but also the likes of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan

Let’s not forget that the “C” in the FCA is about “conduct”. The FCA has the clear intent to change the “customer is there to be ripped-off” culture.  This culture is not just about what happens at the point of sale,  but about  behaviours that extend from the boardroom to the point of sale and beyond.  Being proactive means taking action at an early stage to stop potential problems such as PPI, before they cause material consumer loss.  For example, the new product intervention powers may be very rarely used if the views of the FCA are taken on-board at an early stage in the product design or marketing.

Will it work?

To a large extent it is up to individual firms to change their conduct as a matter of good business and reputational sense, rather than because of the policing activities of the regulators.   If they do not fully develop and engage with their conduct strategies to change behaviours, the risk of further PPIs cannot be discounted.   However, it may be some time before cultural change is so pervasive that the right balance is struck between realistic and sustainable shareholder returns, the customer and employees.

All this is likely to take some time, so be prepared for more turbulence before we reach the calmer waters of a trusted and profitable financial services industry that is good for consumers.


Jeff Herman