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Working with partners and competitors

We never try to cheat our partners or our customers.

When we work with partners, or partner with competitors to bid for and deliver work, we always act fairly, honestly and transparently.

When working with partners, it can be tempting to over-promise to customers. Don't be tempted!

Winning a contract and losing our reputation is the worst deal we can make.

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What you can expect from us:

Sometimes when we bid for and deliver contracts, we cooperate with firms that in other situations we also compete with. Whatever the circumstances, at Serco we always deal with our partners, competitors and customers fairly and honestly.

Procurement Integrity

  • We want to be known for our integrity in procurement processes. So we only promise what we believe we can deliver, and demonstrate our ability to do so.
  • We never collude with a partner to misrepresent facts or disadvantage a customer.
  • We won't seek to blame anyone when a genuine mistake has been made.
  • We will ensure the customer is promptly notified as soon as we are made aware of any error. This is a duty of care we have to all our customers.

Properly Negotiating and Performing Contracts

  • We compete and negotiate fairly and ethically for all business opportunities.
  • We will be open and transparent with our customers about our relevant partnering arrangements.
  • When contracts are awarded to us, we do our utmost to fulfil all contract specifications and comply with applicable terms and conditions.

We expect you to:

  • Accurately and transparently represent any pricing or other information submitted as part of a bid or proposal, or as a part of delivering our work.
  • Ensure that all statements, claims and data you present to prospective or existing customers are accurate and truthful. Do not provide false or misleading information.
  • Negotiate contracts and sub-contracts in an ethical manner, and then perform them in accordance with their terms and conditions.
  • Immediately report any error to your manager. Mistakes do happen, but you should rectify them as soon as you realise they've been made.

We’ve decided on our pricing strategy for a key bid. The customer has asked us to partner with a competitor he knows well who tells us we’re too cheap. How should we respond?

The customer asked us for this partnership. So we act on the information and raise our price

Wrong. Please try again.

We have to tell the customer what we know

Right answer because:

It’s so important that our customers trust us. When we partner with a competitor to deliver a service to a customer, trust becomes even more of a critical issue. That’s why our Code says,

“When we work with partners, or partner with competitors to bid for and deliver work, we always act fairly, honestly and transparently.”

One of the keys to trust in this situation is our Procurement Integrity. Our Code makes it clear how we need to behave:

“We never collude with a partner to misrepresent facts or disadvantage a customer.”

In this case, if we acted on our partner’s information – information we would otherwise not have - we’d be colluding to disadvantage our customer.

So the key business question here is what builds our reputation for trust, and what risks destroying it?  

Winning a contract and losing our reputation is the worst deal we can make.

Don’t tell the customer but ignore the information

Wrong. Please try again.

Just realised we over billed on a task we completed a year ago. It was a genuine mistake, the customer was very happy and will never know. It will be a lot of bother if we raise it now. Best just to leave it? 

No, we have a duty to tell our customer.

Right answer because:

The trust we build with customers is based on the fact that we will never try to cheat them. We say in our Code:

“We will ensure the customer is promptly notified as soon as we are made aware of any error. This is a duty of care we have to all our customers.”

These words must be demonstrated in our actions. Genuine mistakes do sometimes happen. When this is the case, we won’t seek to blame anyone. But we need to be seen to be acting with integrity.

In this case, even though the discovery of the mistake was made a long time after the event, we should still tell the customer.  And we should do all we can to properly explain how this mistake occurred.

Of course if the contract involved working with a partner, this can be complex and difficult. Whether the mistake was ours or our partner’s, we won’t try to assign blame, but we must be transparent with our customer.

If we do this, we are demonstrating our integrity to those we work with, and those we work for.

We never cheat our partners or our customers.

Yes, they’ll never know

Wrong. Please try again.

Yes, this is the customers responsibility

Wrong. Please try again.

A “difficult” customer has forced us and our partners to accept unfair price cuts.One partner has suggested we make up our losses by all adjusting our claims sheets. Is this okay?

If they treated us unfairly we have a right to try to rectify that. That’s only fair

Wrong. Please try again.

Yes, but only if we all agree, so all our claims are the same

Wrong. Please try again.

No, we just have to suffer the loss

Right answer because:

Sometimes it can feel like there is a good reason for doing the wrong thing. It can even feel like “justice”. And when there is pressure or agreement from a partner on taking an illegal course of action, it can be tempting to do so.  Never be tempted.

There are no circumstances in which acting illegally or doing the wrong thing can ever be right.  So even when we feel we have not been treated fairly, we cannot try to rectify this through illicit means.

In this case, if we were to agree with our partner, we would be colluding together against the customer. Our Code clearly says,

“We never collude with a partner to misrepresent facts or disadvantage a customer.”

It also requires us to:

“Accurately and transparently represent any pricing or other information submitted as part of a bid or proposal, or as a part of delivering our work.”

“Ensure that all statements, claims and data you present to prospective or existing customers are accurate and truthful. Do not provide false or misleading information.”

We cannot and must not go against our Code, and we would risk our reputation if we were to do so.

I think a partner has over-billed a customer, but only slightly. Should I keep quiet?

Yes, otherwise we risk falling out

Wrong. Please try again.

No, we have to insist that the partner discloses this

Right answer because:

Working with partners can be complex. But we must ensure that their actions comply with our Code. We cannot be drawn into or compromised by the illicit or wrongful behaviour of someone else. 

Over-billing a customer, even slightly, is against our Code, and if we become aware that this has happened, we must put the matter right.

When we work with partners, we share the responsibility of acting with integrity.

In this case, our Code tells us to:

“Immediately report any error to your line manager.  Mistakes do happen, but you should rectify them as soon as you realise they’ve been made.”

Proper measures can then be taken to work with our partner to put the matter right.

Yes, as we’d risk getting blamed too if we pointed this out

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 1

We’ve decided on our pricing strategy for a key bid. The customer has asked us to partner with a competitor he knows well who tells us we’re too cheap. How should we respond?

The customer asked us for this partnership. So we act on the information and raise our price

Wrong. Please try again.

We have to tell the customer what we know

Right answer because:

It’s so important that our customers trust us. When we partner with a competitor to deliver a service to a customer, trust becomes even more of a critical issue. That’s why our Code says,

“When we work with partners, or partner with competitors to bid for and deliver work, we always act fairly, honestly and transparently.”

One of the keys to trust in this situation is our Procurement Integrity. Our Code makes it clear how we need to behave:

“We never collude with a partner to misrepresent facts or disadvantage a customer.”

In this case, if we acted on our partner’s information – information we would otherwise not have - we’d be colluding to disadvantage our customer.

So the key business question here is what builds our reputation for trust, and what risks destroying it?  

Winning a contract and losing our reputation is the worst deal we can make.

Don’t tell the customer but ignore the information

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 2

Just realised we over billed on a task we completed a year ago. It was a genuine mistake, the customer was very happy and will never know. It will be a lot of bother if we raise it now. Best just to leave it? 

No, we have a duty to tell our customer.

Right answer because:

The trust we build with customers is based on the fact that we will never try to cheat them. We say in our Code:

“We will ensure the customer is promptly notified as soon as we are made aware of any error. This is a duty of care we have to all our customers.”

These words must be demonstrated in our actions. Genuine mistakes do sometimes happen. When this is the case, we won’t seek to blame anyone. But we need to be seen to be acting with integrity.

In this case, even though the discovery of the mistake was made a long time after the event, we should still tell the customer.  And we should do all we can to properly explain how this mistake occurred.

Of course if the contract involved working with a partner, this can be complex and difficult. Whether the mistake was ours or our partner’s, we won’t try to assign blame, but we must be transparent with our customer.

If we do this, we are demonstrating our integrity to those we work with, and those we work for.

We never cheat our partners or our customers.

Yes, they’ll never know

Wrong. Please try again.

Yes, this is the customers responsibility

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 3

A “difficult” customer has forced us and our partners to accept unfair price cuts.One partner has suggested we make up our losses by all adjusting our claims sheets. Is this okay?

If they treated us unfairly we have a right to try to rectify that. That’s only fair

Wrong. Please try again.

Yes, but only if we all agree, so all our claims are the same

Wrong. Please try again.

No, we just have to suffer the loss

Right answer because:

Sometimes it can feel like there is a good reason for doing the wrong thing. It can even feel like “justice”. And when there is pressure or agreement from a partner on taking an illegal course of action, it can be tempting to do so.  Never be tempted.

There are no circumstances in which acting illegally or doing the wrong thing can ever be right.  So even when we feel we have not been treated fairly, we cannot try to rectify this through illicit means.

In this case, if we were to agree with our partner, we would be colluding together against the customer. Our Code clearly says,

“We never collude with a partner to misrepresent facts or disadvantage a customer.”

It also requires us to:

“Accurately and transparently represent any pricing or other information submitted as part of a bid or proposal, or as a part of delivering our work.”

“Ensure that all statements, claims and data you present to prospective or existing customers are accurate and truthful. Do not provide false or misleading information.”

We cannot and must not go against our Code, and we would risk our reputation if we were to do so.

Dilemma 4

I think a partner has over-billed a customer, but only slightly. Should I keep quiet?

Yes, otherwise we risk falling out

Wrong. Please try again.

No, we have to insist that the partner discloses this

Right answer because:

Working with partners can be complex. But we must ensure that their actions comply with our Code. We cannot be drawn into or compromised by the illicit or wrongful behaviour of someone else. 

Over-billing a customer, even slightly, is against our Code, and if we become aware that this has happened, we must put the matter right.

When we work with partners, we share the responsibility of acting with integrity.

In this case, our Code tells us to:

“Immediately report any error to your line manager.  Mistakes do happen, but you should rectify them as soon as you realise they’ve been made.”

Proper measures can then be taken to work with our partner to put the matter right.

Yes, as we’d risk getting blamed too if we pointed this out

Wrong. Please try again.