In January, we saw a big shift in how social value is handled in government procurement. By now, we all know a topline overview of the changes and what they mean for procurement teams across the public sector. If you’re not sure, we’ve covered it in detail. In short, social value must be ‘explicitly evaluated’, tracked throughout a project’s life cycle, and made a higher priority when it comes to the awarding of public contracts.
But this isn’t as straightforward a shift as local authorities and councils would probably like. This changing focus requires some notable effort and attention from procurement teams across the country. A large-scale, non-negotiable change to the social value side of the procurement process presents new challenges that we want to shed some light on.
#1 Cross-departmental communication
Despite requiring a team effort to effectively adapt to procurement changes, a lot of social value remains in a vacuum. Planning and procurement through to project delivery should be a seamless transition. Expectations, goals, and KPIs should be decided early on and fully understood by everyone involved.
Whether it’s the procurement teams who are evaluating bids and awarding contracts, the contract managers who manage the actual delivery of value, or suppliers who are generating the value, everyone needs to be on the same page.
The same point stands for early communication with suppliers and bidding organisations to better understand the feasibility and barriers towards certain themes and outcomes.
The sooner we stop viewing social value on an individual team, department, or organisational level, the sooner we can really start elevating the value being generated across all projects.
#2 Managing the delivery of value
Big social value commitments from tendering organisations are great to see. But you don’t want a situation where the project finishes and only half the promised value has been generated because no one tracked it throughout. This is why January’s changes specifically focus on evaluating social value, both during procurement and a project’s wider life cycle.
This challenge is twofold. One, councils and authorities need a more effective, realistic approach to evaluating bids, going beyond metrics and numbers. One that considers the feasibility and deliverability of commitments, as well as the real-life impact and human stories that are behind the numbers and method statements. It paints a picture of what the outcomes will actually look like.
As well as this, there needs to be resilient systems in place to accurately track social value delivery post-procurement. As is, so much valuable data and progress is missed by tracking progress too late into a project. Under an ever-increasing lack of contract management resources, how can local authorities better monitor and evaluate the delivery of social value as a project progresses?
In response to this, government guidance emphasises the importance of aligning commitments with KPIs and reporting metrics as early as possible.
It is only by taking this whole-of-project focus, monitoring specific KPIs and deliverables, that councils and authorities can accurately determine whether a project is progressing in line with its social value objectives.
#3 Changing long-established workflows
The above challenges – and plenty more that these changes are bringing to light – aren’t quick fixes. January’s new social value model requires more mature, nuanced systems and processes that can keep up with its increasingly complex requirements. And this presents a challenge for the public sector who are trying to embrace the systems needed to keep up, without having to completely reinvent long-established, familiar workflows.
With increasing time and resources going into the process as it previously was, any way to embrace these changes without making even more work for procurement teams is more than welcomed. Procurement teams don’t want to have to learn an entirely new skill set or take the time and monetary investment to get to grips with complicated third party software.
Do any of these challenges sound familiar? If so, then we’re here to help. For the rest of this month, we’re taking a close look at social value in procurement. Check back next week for more insight and top tips on how to better navigate this changing procurement landscape.
Impact helps procurement teams deliver more demand-led social value without the headaches of convoluted processes, wasted time, or overhauling your existing processes. If you want to find out more, get in touch on 0161 532 4752 or book a demo.