Local authorities have been told they have little time to start work on new shared service arrangements.
Lloyd Clark, Liberata’s director of local government business, told councillors and officials at the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth that the financial demands being placed on them meant they needed to act quickly.
“If you aren’t already doing it and you are planning to start from scratch, don’t,” he said. “The costs, the risk, the investment and time to start getting benefits is too long. You have to realise savings in the short term. It is not a wise decision.”
Councils should instead look at the many public and private sector shared services that were already on the market and choose one that matched their objectives.
Mark Hucker, head of planning and business management for the Local Government Association (LGA) group, also warned that the costs and time were likely to be far in excess of what was expected.
“Don’t go and sit in a room thinking it is going to take six months,” he said. “You think it is going to be easy, but it is really, really difficult.”
Mr Hucker explained that he had been working on a shared service for the LGA group, bringing together everything from HR, finance, IT, customer service, knowledge management, to print room and design.
The process of finding a commercial partner had taken a year, resulting in more expense and more management time than was originally expected.
“Do not underestimate the costs of moving to a shared service. The lawyers fees alone will make your eyes water,” he said.