Public sector procurement is complex and must look at aspects beyond price and quality when awarding contracts. Social value, which is the impact that an organisation has on society, is a key factor, and we are proud to have supported several public sector organisations in the development and delivery of their social value strategies.
Below we outline some of our key learnings and how we’ve seen social value being effectively embedded into public sector procurement processes.
Be thoughtful and consistent in your approach
Consistency is key when asking suppliers to deliver social value. One of the most effective and efficient ways to achieve this is through carefully communicating priorities to ensure suppliers’ commitments directly support them. A flexible framework, which can be used on any project, supported by transparent methodologies and processes, easy-to-use templates and thorough guidance all help. Educating around and communicating the required criteria makes embedding social value as efficient, transparent, and impactful a process as possible.
As consultants, we help organisations to use Government guidance and tools to develop well-thought-out questions, scoring tenders alongside their teams and ensuring expected benefits are delivered through practical contract management and reporting. This helps ensure that procurements are both demonstrably compliant and effective in delivering Social Value.
Empower your closest collaborators, your suppliers
Suppliers can enable organisations to achieve their social value goals, and effective supply-base collaboration will accelerate delivery. Encourage your suppliers to involve their supply chain in the design and roll-out of consistent metrics and help them to understand the varying approaches to reporting and alignment to a common framework.
When appropriate and proportionate, tools such as portals can help you to collect both qualitative and quantitative performance data and provide reporting. This gives you the insight you need to track progress and helps the suppliers see how they are performing against other firms.
Putting sufficient tools, guidance, and training in place to educate suppliers on what you need will maximise the impact and reach of your social value programme. Many suppliers are already advanced in their approach to social value, so use those that have experience as a resource of key learnings and to provide insights into best practice. Listening to your suppliers will help create the right delivery framework and help remove cumbersome requirements to replace them with approaches that work for your unique supply base.
A robust engagement strategy is essential
Communication and change management is key to embedding social value. You need an effective engagement strategy from the start. Resources such as e-learning materials help upskill suppliers and broad-ranging collaborative supplier working groups can be set up to test the various elements of the approach. Incorporating these groups’ feedback is an efficient way to make social value delivery as streamlined as possible.
These criteria also apply to internal and external stakeholders. For larger organisations, establishing cross-department steering groups and operational groups are often a huge help with both design and implementation, as well as regular engagement across all areas of the organisation. Proxima is often closely involved in the coaching of procurement team members, to help them create an impactful and effective approach to stakeholder engagement.
For a social value programme to be a success, it must be well understood and supported by all employees, their supply chain, external partners, and stakeholders. Engaging communication approaches are critical – webinars, collaboration groups, focus groups, 1-2-1’s and more.
Ensure you have made lasting change
For a social value programme to endure and succeed, a structured, communicative, and collaborative methodology is essential. Your supply base and internal teams will need to adopt new skills and approaches supported by a different mindset that embraces social value. Successful organisations understand this and invest time in ensuring that their programme is planned and delivered effectively.