The UK spends upwards of £290 billion on public procurement every year. And, forming such a large part of our nation’s spending, it’s clear to see just how important procurement can – and should – be for leveraging social value, bolstering communities, and reducing inequalities.
It’s why all the recent procurement changes are aimed specifically at embedding social value further into local government and public spending. In their guide to the new Social Value Model, the government explains:
The more effectively the public sector normalises social value in our commercial activity, the more wholeheartedly the supply market will be able to adapt and respond. The result will be a fundamental cultural shift in behaviours and attitudes.
Procurement teams now play a critical role in embedding social value into local government and public spending. Here are four ways of improving social value in procurement that we think is an absolute necessity for any high performing procurement team.
#1 – Get a clear visibility of progress
The changing government procurement guidelines all centre around a need to generate more social value across the board of public spending. But to do this, we need to always be up to speed on results and progress.
Right off the bat, we must understand how bidding suppliers plan on delivering their commitments and establish if their plans are achievable and realistic. After this, we need to track all progress to ensure everything is moving forward steadily and that the final delivery will match what was initially promised.
As a procurement team, you aren’t all going to be experts in social value. And no one is expecting you to be. But there does need to be greater effort to understand, consistently monitor, and evidence progress and any areas still left for improvement.
So often, teams rely on models or frameworks to tell them the value a potential bidder will generate. However, these values aren’t always transparent, flexible, or fully explained. Complex systems only seem to muddy the waters.
This is then compounded further by KPIs and targets that aren’t fully understood and a corresponding lack of defined progress. If you aren’t crystal clear on what tangible value a supplier has committed to, how can you accurately track their performance and ensure they’re upholding their end of the bargain?
Procurement teams need to take the time to understand what good looks like in terms of social value. They need to put tools in place to continually measure and report on supplier performance to refine and improve their efforts, keeping projects moving in the right direction.
#2 – Reduced manual labour
Increased intricacy of the procurement process runs the risk of piling up the tasks and responsibilities on the plates of procurement teams and contract managers. It’s something that can no longer be satisfactorily completed using a text-box input. Social value must now be explicitly evaluated, requiring a deeper understanding of bidder commitments and the corresponding social value and calculations.
But how can we increase the levels of bid evaluation, assess both the quality and quantity of bids, and embed whole-project lifecycle reporting without compromising on procurement teams’ time or resources?
Any ways to reduce these oftentimes tedious and time consuming tasks will go a long way in maximising social value, while upholding the efficiency and reliability of the process.
#3 – Achieve complete clarity on your priorities
Ask yourself this: are you super clear on the themes and outcomes most important to your organisation and local area?
To be effective, it is essential that the contracting authority’s consideration of social value starts at the pre-procurement stage, and that they carry it on through all stages of the procurement life cycle.
And are you clearly communicating these with bidding organisations ahead of time?
You set the pace for supplier commitments, so it’s critical you take the time to really drill down into your priorities and expectations ahead of time. As well as figuring out what you will measure suppliers and what this process will look like in action.
The social value side of procurement becomes far simpler when suppliers know what is expected of them and what they will be measured against. But this starts with your internal teams getting there first.
#4 – Create a seamless process from start to finish
No one wants to be juggling multiple tools to satisfy the social value side of procurement. It’s fiddly, time-consuming, and opens you up to a plethora of errors and inefficiencies. Not to mention the need to also incorporate these into your existing procurement system once suppliers are awarded contracts.
This goes hand in hand with the above point about reduced manual labour. The more seamless councils and local authorities can make their bid evaluation and the contract management of social value delivery, the more time, attention, and resources they’ll have for maximising the value achieved. And the more straightforward the process, the more engaged suppliers and external organisations will be with your methods and the more we bring everyone onto the same page.
It’s normal for changing procurement guidelines to be met with apprehension and fear over increasing responsibility, even more limited resources, and the disruption of a significant overhaul of existing systems. But we don’t think this needs to be the case. So long as these four non-negotiables are met, you’re off to a great start.
Impact keeps the social value side of procurement as simple and straightforward as possible. We empower councils and local authorities to effortlessly evaluate the social value of tenders and continually monitor the progress of their projects. If you want to find out more, get in touch on 0161 532 4752 or book a demo.