BBC shares its outsourcing secrets with NHS Employers

Choosing an outsourcing provider means acting like the caustic Sir Alan Sugar on The Apprentice TV programme, according to Lesley Hopkins, head of service delivery at BBC People.

Hopkins told delegates at the NHS Employers conference on HR shared services last week that outsourcing was a “dog-eat-dog” process and “not for the faint-hearted”.

“It’s like an ongoing job interview and you decide who gets hired and fired,” she said.

Hopkins oversaw the creation of shared services across the recruitment and HR administrative processes at the BBC in April this year.

As part of the £100m deal, 260 BBC staff were transferred to the new delivery partner, Capita Consulting. An additional 100 roles were created in Capita’s HR shared-service centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Hopkins explained: “The decision to outsource shared services was not taken lightly. Leading the programme was a tough, noisy and emotional journey.”

Capita was appointed in February this year after the BBC had invited companies to tender for the deal in November 2005.

According to Hopkins, the main objectives were to cut costs, improve service consistency and performance, and to support the BBC’s e-strategy.

She said the aim was to make the shared-service process as seamless as possible.

“We don’t want our staff to know the difference between who’s providing their service,” said Hopkins.

The process helped establish a clear split between everyday operational work and HR strategy, she added. Outsourced services included remuneration, outplacement and assessment, disability access and occupational health.

Bridget Green, professional services HR director at Capita, said the company hoped to save the BBC £50m over the next decade and reduce service costs by 30%.

The BBC and Capita estimate that the transformation programme would take two years to complete.

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