Determine What Council Wants to Achieve

Before starting, clearly identify:

  • Why the council is considering outsourcing?

  • What services does the council need to outsource, and to what extent?

Knowing the 'why' and 'what' will provide a clear basis for selecting a contractor.

Take a long-term strategic view of what is wanted from outsourcing by completing a strategic assessment. Consider these issues in a strategic assessment:

  • Does the council still want to be outsourcing in 12 months time?

  • What are the future workload predictions? Consider historic trends, economic outlooks, and projected growth. Is it necessary to outsource the entire consent service or would partial outsourcing be sufficient to manage peaks in resource consents? Consent volumes are also related to the plan provisions. Consider whether the plan provisions are likely to change in the near future (through either plan changes or the review process).

  • What outsourcing options are there? Will outsourcing to one or more local suppliers create unworkable conflicts of interest, or remove necessary consultant options for the community?

  • Does the council need particular technical skills or an increase in general resources? Would it be better to increase in-house resources, rather than outsourcing? Will 'in-house' skills be lost or can 'in-house' skills be enhanced?

  • Will the use of an external contractor create tension within the planning department, or with other departments of the council? What type of work do the existing staff want to retain? Staff may wish to retain the more challenging and complex applications to enhance their professional development and maintain job satisfaction.

  • What are the views and expectations of the council's managers and politicians?

  • Does the council need to consult internally and/or externally? Does the community want the council to retain services in-house?

  • What management structure and systems will be implemented to ensure a smooth transition of processing consents between council and contractors?

    While a range of approaches to outsourcing exist, a common approach taken is to contract out lower-level applications. These are typically non-notified, controlled and discretionary activity applications, with few complex issues. If the council has been outsourcing for some time without a proper decision-making process, take time to reflect on the experience.