In which Terry Gilliam’s vision of an organisation comes to life

We have spent hours and hours recently preparing tenders for Public Sector organisations. Based on our experience we wondered what it would be like to apply for a job in the Procurement Department…. This is what it might be like….

 Applying for a job in the Procurement Department

Dear applicant. Thank you for considering a career in our team. As you know we are dedicated to making sure we are a compliant organisation, fair and above all, saving money for the business. The following is the process we would like you to follow to secure employment.

 Stage 1

  1. We have a job going but we only have a vague idea of what the job is. We are not sure how many hours it is or indeed how much we will pay you. Once we have seen your application we will decide on how to shape the role
  2. Please complete the enclosed application form. You will see that the first fifteen pages require a summary of you and your approach to life from the age of three months to date. Then we have 25 specific questions that we would like you to answer and can you limit your responses to these to 100 words per section. Some of them may seem repetitive or irrelevant but please do your best
  3. Please attach to the application your last 5 years bank statements. We are reluctant to employ anyone who is not financially secure. Ideally we are looking for applicants who can demonstrate a minimum bank balance in excess of £1,000,000 during this period. Can you also make sure you have life insurance that covers you for up to £25 billion
  4. Can you also attach data on everyone you have worked for, or indeed spoken to in a professional capacity during your career. Explain the nature of the relationship and what you have learnt from this.

Stage 2

We will invite a selection of candidates in to meet our selection panel for an interview and a presentation.

At this stage we would like those selected to deliver a 45 minute presentation that summarises your application as well as answers the question: ‘what job do you think we should be advertising?’. Based on the responses we will decide what we want but will not share this information with candidates in case it give anyone an unfair advantage

 Stage 3

We will invite selected candidates back for a second interview and presentation. We will also request a 20,000 word dissertation entitled ‘Customer orientation through systems and processes – discuss the merits of a systems thinking approach to customer orientation in a rapidly changing business economy’

We will judge the presentation and your written submission based on your resilience in the face of extreme bureaucracy. Those who can maintain a sunny disposition in the face of our stern faces and lack of response are surely in with a chance of getting some work. We also appreciate that many applicants will have given up by now or may have beaten themselves to death with a stick rather than subject themselves to any more of this process. But at least our principle of self selection remains steadfast.

 Stage 4

We will probably offer the job to my mate Derek


We expect the whole process to take from between 3-6 months. It may of course take longer as we take these things seriously and would not wish to bypass the process in order to make anything happen quickly. More haste less speed as we often say in our meetings.

My email is given below and you are welcome to get in touch at any time with any questions. Unfortunately I will be unable to answer any of them as this is contrary to our selection process.

A challenge

OK so the above is a bit of fun but there is a serious point behind it. This week we spotted an opportunity for some work that was a perfect match for our business. A local authority geographically close. The value of work was £16,000 total and was for a fairly simple training programme.  We spotted the opportunity with two-days to go before the deadline for submission. We seriously did not have the time to apply. The 56 page application process was overwhelming.  Can someone explain how it feels to be in charge of such mindless bureaucracy and what they do with the pages and pages of responses. How much time, effort and money does all this take? I get that if you are building schools, motorways or hospitals, you need a careful process. But I guarantee the costs of the process for smaller priced work exceeds the value by some margin.

Lets compare this to the same Authority appointing someone for a job that pays far more. Applicants fill in a short form. They tick a few boxes and sign it. The call in for one or two conversations and presto the company commits to a £50k a year spend for 5 years or more. Why can’t we do that?

Am I wrong?