When it comes to social value in the public sector, it feels like all eyes are on the procurement process. After all, that’s where the government has told us to look, with their minimum 10% weighting in bids. It puts a lot of pressure on that part of the project. But if you’re not clear on what you’re looking for, it can turn into a bit of a box-ticking exercise.
Just because PPN06/20 has been around for over a year doesn’t mean evaluating social initiatives has magically become easier. Trying to figure out which bid delivers the greatest SROI is another ball you have to juggle. So what’s the solution?
There are some ideas you can implement before the procurement process even begins, making your life much easier. Let’s take a look at our top 3 tips…
Figure out your priorities
You wouldn’t start a project without outlining your budget. Or estimating the timeline. So why would you start without figuring out what your social value priorities are?
The first step you want to take is nailing down what matters to your organisation. And that is going to come down to what your local community wants to see. Every public sector project will centre around them. So talk to them. Survey them. Ask them what matters to them.
And be specific. You might want to see bids make room for apprenticeship opportunities. Okay, but why? Is it to provide more work experience for underprivileged areas? To tackle high levels of unemployment? This is going to make your priorities much more targeted.
Then it would be helpful to lay these out for suppliers to see. A social value statement is perfect for this. When it comes to the procurement process, you have your expectations set and can choose the bids that line up with this. If they address your wants directly, you know they’re aligned with your goals and make a good fit for the project.
Consider every step of the project
We touched on this slightly in the last section, but your priorities should focus on the outcomes. By this, we mean the specifics of what you hope to achieve.
For example, rather than saying you want to save X amount of carbon or reduce X amount of waste, you want to say why. Lowering carbon output might be about hitting net-zero targets or becoming carbon neutral.
In short, what is your end goal? Try to be ambitious and think long-term about the outcomes you want each project to achieve. Do you want suppliers to show how they will contribute to a more diverse, sustainable supply chain? Or commit to increasing the representation of disabled people in the contract workforce?
By leading with outcomes first, you give suppliers the flexibility to respond to your themes in their own way. You’ll open yourself up to more creative, unique bids that offer a variety of ways to achieve your chosen outcomes and KPIs. And this is so much better than every bid sounding the same, making your job of evaluating which is best a lot easier.
Improve your evaluation process
This is all well and good, until you get to the procurement part and don’t know how to evaluate these bids. Before you get to this point, you want to make sure you have a robust way to assess each supplier’s promises.
So much of measuring and reporting social value is done on a spreadsheet that just gets bigger and more unmanageable. And these don’t really get to the heart of what social value means in monetary terms. Someone has promised to create 100 apprenticeship opportunities to help with upskilling. Fantastic! But what does that actually equate to? How is that better than the person promising 100 opportunities to ex-offenders? That’s before you get to the challenge of quantifying what this means in terms of wellbeing.
Spreadsheets just aren’t equipped for the job. It requires specific social value software that can quantify the unquantifiable. But also something that goes beyond that and adds qualitative data to create a richer image. This allows you to ensure public money goes to the right places and delivers maximum value. Getting this sorted out before procurement will make the whole process much easier.
By following all 3 pieces of advice, you can achieve the most SROI from each project. But that’s not where it ends. You need to keep track of social value throughout a project – beyond procurement.
That’s where we can help.
With Impact, bid evaluation and ongoing contract management is simple. We support an outcome-focused approach to ensure no social value is missed and every supplier is held accountable to their promises. To find out more, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.