Interserve

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LE
Sub sub sub sub sparks contractor of such an outfit turns up in response to an urgent call out at a large, dispersed site as power had tripped.

On his own. By himself. No idea of layout. And after having travelled about 130 miles

After blundering arounding with security type for two hours finds the problem.

A sub basement now waist deep in water.

ET phones home and is, rightly, told not to enter as it may be hazardous. Sticks around for a bit, makes safe as best he can, hazard tape, leaves note for crew coming in morning, cup of coffee, taps away on a tablet for a bit and then departs.

Questions asked about the vast bill for remediation and a very detailed itemised analysis produced.

Our lone sparks call out had ended up being billed out at not far off £9k
 
Pretty much sums up all outsourcing companies, but equally the naivety of the companies giving them contracts.

SWMBO worked for local government who outsourced all maintenance to GDF Suez. This resulted in a cost of £89 to change a single lightbulb in an interview room (no windows) ad the cost of the bulb? £0.59.

GDF classified this as a "call out" under their contract and therefore put an immediate minimum charge of £60 on. And yes, they really did try to charge £29 for changing a light bulb as "non-routine maintenance".

SWMBO's team being horrified at the cost, sent someone out to B&Q at lunchtime (round the corner from the office), shoved a table into the middle of the room and did the job for £0.59 out of petty cash.

Nephew who works for one of the sharks regularly gets sent from Cheltenham to Thorney for such matters of immediate repair import as fixing a leaking tap or playing up toilet flush.
 
Friends' daughter used to work for C(r)apita on computer networks.

She lives in Runcorn and was told that she was covering Birmingham to Carlisle. First job, Swansea, next job Canterbury.

It was regular that she would do a 300 mile journey to e.g. replace a cable. She had a classic Capita trick of being rung up on Sunday and being told to be in Edinburgh at 0730 Monday. Rocking up on site on Monday, she spent about 10 minutes replacing the end of a Cat C cable that had been damaged by a cleaner.

At the time she was charged at £520 per day and the job took 1.5 days.
 
Friends' daughter used to work for C(r)apita on computer networks.

She lives in Runcorn and was told that she was covering Birmingham to Carlisle. First job, Swansea, next job Canterbury.

It was regular that she would do a 300 mile journey to e.g. replace a cable. She had a classic Capita trick of being rung up on Sunday and being told to be in Edinburgh at 0730 Monday. Rocking up on site on Monday, she spent about 10 minutes replacing the end of a Cat C cable that had been damaged by a cleaner.

At the time she was charged at £520 per day and the job took 1.5 days.

Its a price gouging racket they all run.
Why are you sending me all that way?
We have to fix 'x' within 'y'; hours under the terms in the very very small print.

It could actually wait unto a local bod is free at lunchtime and be done at local routine hourly rates, but hey ho, charge HMG £520 per diem
 
Two thoughts.

First one. The core issue is the way government outsources. Big contracts with big, complex reporting and billing deliverables that cost the earth to bid and win yet squeeze the pips out of the contractor on price.

The likes of Interserve, Carrillion, Serco etc etc often bid at prices which cannot be profitable, certainly when the cost of bidding is considered. As a result, there’s no money to invest in delivering the service and they simply become an administrator for multiple levels of (not very good) subbies which builds in costs. None of them self perform work because they can’t afford too. And they have to price gouge to recover. It ain’t clever.

Second thought. Interserve didn’t start life as an engineering company; it started as a Thames lighterage business and diversified first by acquisition of a civils contractor with a focus on docks etc. It never has had an engineering services background and has expanded outwards to do so. Capita and Serco are similar; they diversified out of non-engineering sectors into soft FM and then onwards. Is it any wonder they stuff up big, complex things when they don’t have the long developed core capacity.

There aren’t many engineering business surviving in this sector because the can’t compete on price. Yet the client is entirely price driven.

A side observation; Interserve’s ancestor Tilbury made some very big contributions during both World Wars.
 
There are two sides to the story here.

Yes, price gouging, and yes, it's common.

But:

Having bid for several DIO / MOD contracts as an SME supplier:

Many hoops to jump through. Huge cost to generate a quote that ticks all boxes. Disproportionate amount of paperwork to complete and then probably a delay in getting paid.

Currently quoting for a DIO job, tender pack specifies that work will comply with 400+ pages of JSPs as well as legislation, specifies how we will do the work and even specifies the MOD forms that we will use (which are 3x the length of the standard forms we use for our industrial customers for the same job).

The specification requires that we put the asset number, BSUID and grid reference on every document. The asset number has to be put in separately no less than 5 times on each asset report.

This particular work, which is ~£200k will cost ~£5k - £6k generate the quote using the DIO forms provided including detailed cost breakdown by site and we are quoting against 3 other companies.
 
There are two sides to the story here.

Yes, price gouging, and yes, it's common.

But:

Having bid for several DIO / MOD contracts as an SME supplier:

Many hoops to jump through. Huge cost to generate a quote that ticks all boxes. Disproportionate amount of paperwork to complete and then probably a delay in getting paid.

Currently quoting for a DIO job, tender pack specifies that work will comply with 400+ pages of JSPs as well as legislation, specifies how we will do the work and even specifies the MOD forms that we will use (which are 3x the length of the standard forms we use for our industrial customers for the same job).

The specification requires that we put the asset number, BSUID and grid reference on every document. The asset number has to be put in separately no less than 5 times on each asset report.

This particular work, which is ~£200k will cost ~£5k - £6k generate the quote using the DIO forms provided including detailed cost breakdown by site and we are quoting against 3 other companies.


Its the curse of 'notional costs' so beloved of financial 'experts'

Look at those highly paid maintenance engineers sitting over in the workshop with nothing to do bar fix their cars… get rid of them, 'save' £100k a year and use a Facilities comp[any by the job.

On paper, its a win, in reality, its obvious to anyone in the real word its stupid

Toilets blocked? Get a bloke on time and a half to stay on and fix it.
Cost to firm - £30
Now? After hours call out by ShiftTheTurd, minimum £200

Classic is preventative maintenance. No one does it now, how can you cost something that hasn't happened and might never will?
We used to use the summer shutdown to go through all the offices and factory and pull every fl tube and starter and replace with new. Number of tube call outs in a year, vanishingly small. Couple of thousand for tubes and starters in bulk and a couple of days work for two blokes. Now? £200 a call out for a tube, and tubes now stay until they fail so lots of rolling call outs.
 
Its the curse of 'notional costs' so beloved of financial 'experts'

Look at those highly paid maintenance engineers sitting over in the workshop with nothing to do bar fix their cars… get rid of them, 'save' £100k a year and use a Facilities comp[any by the job.

On paper, its a win, in reality, its obvious to anyone in the real word its stupid

Toilets blocked? Get a bloke on time and a half to stay on and fix it.
Cost to firm - £30
Now? After hours call out by ShiftTheTurd, minimum £200

Classic is preventative maintenance. No one does it now, how can you cost something that hasn't happened and might never will?
We used to use the summer shutdown to go through all the offices and factory and pull every fl tube and starter and replace with new. Number of tube call outs in a year, vanishingly small. Couple of thousand for tubes and starters in bulk and a couple of days work for two blokes. Now? £200 a call out for a tube, and tubes now stay until they fail so lots of rolling call outs.
Indeed.
Company I used to work for employed their own team of maintenance crew, all of whom were local tradesmen. One was a French polisher who looked after all the doors and handrails on the site (of which there were many). His job was to ensure that all the doors fitted and worked properly and that when the wood was damaged or scraped, that it was repaired and that kick plates etc were in good order. There were numerous polished wood doors and handrails in the 1950s building.

He wasn't paid much, but would also help out the other tradesmen when he had time, typically the chippies. He was made redundant and so we went out to three quotes for the work. The quote to refurbish one block of the 8 blocks on site (plus conference centre) was more than a year of his wages. Need I add that there was a substantial call-out charge to repair hinges and locks?

The company that now owns the building has gone back to having a small on-site maintenance team with only large jobs done by external contractors.
 
This particular work, which is ~£200k will cost ~£5k - £6k generate the quote using the DIO forms provided including detailed cost breakdown by site and we are quoting against 3 other companies.
What’s your win rate though? Industry average bidding public sector work is around 4:1; for every four quotes you put in you win one. Your true costs for bidding £200k of DIO work wouldn’t therefore be £5k, they are actually £25k because nugatory bid costs have to be recovered from somewhere.

In a world where net margins are tight because you can’t win with sensible ones, bid costs can often dwarf profit margin.

Bid costs have to be recovered from earnings. I’ve seen companies recover bid costs in different ways. Some charge a corporate overhead from the centre to their business units and overhead is recovered internally on all jobs; they show the overhead in their price. Some seek to recover them from the client by exploiting the contract from kick off by gouging.

I’ve yet to meet any public sector commercial manager who has a clue what it costs to win government work and I’ve met many who think that 5% net profit is generous. That sort of commercial ignorance is why we end up with underbidding, gouging, lack of contractor investment and a general slide to the bottom

It doesn’t have to be that way. Many government contractors deliver exemplary service in B2B environments.
 
Would of commented earlier on this but i have just seen it.
DIO is at fault here in areas that the contractors support, not that they are entirely blameless.
If there is no actual physical contract oversight on what the contractor is doing in the preventative maintenance areas on certain infra. PPM's were being issued as per MOD references and expected to be carried out. As long as the contractor completed the tick-in-the-box checks/inspections then DIO are happy. And they are happy because the contractor reported that. Trouble is who was actually going out of the comfy offices checking on this from the MOD side of life....no one. So "Preventative" soon becomes "Reactive" very quickly on aged underfunded infra. Contracts need to be more technically robust against physically what is being looked after and kind of fall apart when the MOD isnt exactly flush with cash to support the contract. No good asking the contractor whose share prices are dropping like a stone to "help" support work and costs in the short term.
On top of that, as someone alluded to, you win your bid on the proviso its "technically compliant and the cheapest" but something has to take a hit and its usually salaries available to attract the right employees. With Interserve, their salaries are basically ******* awful. Would not surprise me if they go the same way as Carillion.
 
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Would of commented earlier on this but i have just seen it.
DIO is at fault here in areas that the contractors support, not that they are entirely blameless.
If there is no actual physical contract oversight on what the contractor is doing in the preventative maintenance areas on certain infra. PPM's were being issued as per MOD references and expected to be carried out. As long as the contractor completed the tick-in-the-box checks/inspections then DIO are happy. And they are happy because the contractor reported that. Trouble is who was actually going out of the comfy offices checking on this from the MOD side of life....no one. So "Preventative" soon becomes "Reactive" very quickly on aged underfunded infra. Contracts need to be more technically robust against physically what is being looked after and kind of fall apart when the MOD isnt exactly flush with cash to support the contract. No good asking the contractor whose share prices are dropping like a stone to "help" support work and costs in the short term.
On top of that, as someone alluded to, you win your bid on the proviso its "technically compliant and the cheapest" but something has to take a hit and its usually salaries available to attract the right employees. With Interserve, their salaries are basically ******* awful. Would not surprise me if they go the same way as Carillion.
Meanwhile in the real world where business continuity is paramount, clients keep complicated plant in good, serviceable condition without any of the bollocks that DIO impose.

The MoD isn’t alone. The NHS, schools and councils all get ripped off too.
 
Interserve Facilities Management Ltd was contracted to the site and was responsible for delivery of maintenance activities for many of the mechanical and electrical systems required for containment and control of high hazard biological agents in microbiological containment laboratories.

The court heard that when mains power was lost, of the twelve generators in place to supply emergency power to the site, two failed to operate and two started but subsequently failed in operation, one of which also caught fire
You've got to love that the generators didn't just fail, they caught fire. It's not a proper cockup if something doesn't burst into flames.
 

Blogg

LE
There are two sides to the story here.

Yes, price gouging, and yes, it's common.

But:

Having bid for several DIO / MOD contracts as an SME supplier:

Many hoops to jump through. Huge cost to generate a quote that ticks all boxes. Disproportionate amount of paperwork to complete and then probably a delay in getting paid.

Currently quoting for a DIO job, tender pack specifies that work will comply with 400+ pages of JSPs as well as legislation, specifies how we will do the work and even specifies the MOD forms that we will use (which are 3x the length of the standard forms we use for our industrial customers for the same job).

The specification requires that we put the asset number, BSUID and grid reference on every document. The asset number has to be put in separately no less than 5 times on each asset report.

This particular work, which is ~£200k will cost ~£5k - £6k generate the quote using the DIO forms provided including detailed cost breakdown by site and we are quoting against 3 other companies.
And is why, across government, a number of tenders are ending up with only one or no expressions of interest at all.

One particularly unlovely offering was met which such indifference that the department concerned had a hissy fit and announced it would just do it all in house instead. So there.

Good luck with that, gender neutral persons
 

Yokel

LE
Meanwhile in the real world where business continuity is paramount, clients keep complicated plant in good, serviceable condition without any of the bollocks that DIO impose.

The MoD isn’t alone. The NHS, schools and councils all get ripped off too.
So do local business. PFI scemes mean schools pay to the roof to have relatively minor work done, instead of getting local builders, plumbers, electricians, chippies, etc to put in a quote. This noncompetitive practise can only be detrimental to the wider economy.
 
You've got to love that the generators didn't just fail, they caught fire. It's not a proper cockup if something doesn't burst into flames.
Thats awesome as they are also responsbile for the new Power Station at Mount Pleasant, Falklands.
 

bill121koln

Old-Salt
Involving high hazard biological agents in microbiological containment laboratories is a bonus point
There is a reason why proper data centre people not only do snap power cut exercises but program computers to flip the main switch at random intervals. (Google "Chaos Monkey" or "Simian Army") But if you wanted that you wouldn't hire InterCrapSerIllion would you?
 

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