Since PPN06/20’s minimum of 10% weighting came into play, infrastructure projects have had a new competitive edge to them. These sometimes long-term projects are the heart of communities. Their roads, water supply, power, and transport – to name just a few aspects – play such an important role in people’s lives. And with this weighting, it’s gone up a notch.
Now, your social value commitments could be the difference between winning and losing contracts. It goes beyond the project into what you can do to better communities economically, socially, and environmentally. So of course suppliers are going to feel the heat.
You’ve worked hard over the past year and a half to embed social value into your company culture and practices. But now it just feels like a race to the highest number. You don’t have to play that game though. Your approach can bring considered, evidence-supported commitments to the table. Here are our tips for bringing the quality of your social value to the forefront in your bids.
Be specific and targeted
Offering employment opportunities throughout a contract is a great way to generate social value. But the chances are it’s something every other supplier out there will also be committing to. It doesn’t say anything about the community it’s in.
When it comes to infrastructure projects, you’re in the core of where people live and work. Showing that you know what’s important to them signals that you’re willing to engage with what really matters. You want your efforts to be specific and targeted to the people at hand. So get creative with what you’re offering!
To stand out, offer something different. Look at the council’s social value statement and see where you could contribute. Or look at something like the UN’s SDGs and reverse-engineer these goals into solutions for the local community.
Speak to the people you’re claiming to help too. That’s information straight from the horse’s mouth you can use in your bid to say “look, we know what the people want and this is what we’re going to do about it”. Combine more common interventions – such as employment – with commitments that address pressing local issues. Let’s say a competitor commits to 100 jobs and apprenticeships. You might only offer 30 – but combine this with something like protecting the biodiversity of a local park.
Consider every step of the project
The social and environmental benefits of your actions don’t stop once a project is complete. Some impacts might not emerge for years. But that doesn’t mean they should be left out of your bids.
Infrastructure projects have a lot of moving parts. And social value will be generated at multiple stages. Let’s say you build a new train station. Working on that individual project allows you to generate social value right now in, for example, the methods you use. But the completed station will also generate value long after you step away. It might be suitable for low-emission trains or connect rural communities to urban spaces where job availability is higher.
This runs throughout the entire project. When it comes to social value, there’s a lot of focus on the procurement and construction stages. What about planning? Or design? Or decommissioning if that’s part of it? Show that you understand your part at every step, from before the project to well after it’s over.
Know what your impact means
It’s impossible to be completely neutral throughout your projects. Infrastructure projects are complex, involving multiple parties and supply chains. You can install solar panels, but that’s going to create waste, for example. Just look at the construction sector – there are reports of modern slavery that people don’t see.
The truth is that it’s near impossible to only have a positive impact. Every positive action you take will have some kind of negative consequence. What counts is that you acknowledge this and monitor how it impacts your efforts.
You want to be able to prove what your efforts have achieved in the past. Yes, you may have generated so many kilograms of waste, but can you also show how much carbon you offset? Can you quantify the unquantifiable – something like how much you contribute to the economy by providing employment opportunities to those who need them? And can you then back that up with qualitative stories about what those opportunities meant to people?
Having that information to hand puts you in a great spot with any tender. Yes, it’s evidence of what you’re doing, but it also shows your commitment to doing it.
There’s no denying that social value in procurement has become a bit of a numbers game. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of standing in the shadows of larger organisations with higher figures, let your passion for social good and quality commitments shine through instead.
Impact makes proving your social value commitments simple. It’s never been easier to capture the true impact of every activity, as well as combining qualitative and quantitative data to show buyers all the value you have to offer. To find out more, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.