STAR Procurement

STAR Procurement

10 point plan for Local Businesses and SMEs support during COVID and Preparing for Recovery

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

STAR Procurement have been focusing on a number of key areas for improvement over the last few years. Two examples are:
– Engaging and encouraging local businesses/VCSEs and SMEs to bid for public contracts.
– Encouraging more Social Value in contracts and the link to increased bidding and winning contracts from Greater Manchester businesses.

The impact of a multi-pronged effort has delivered some tangible outcomes for example:
– Local spend increase (within Greater Manchester) moving from 13% for one of our Authorities in 2017 to us exceeding 50%across our 4 Authorities in 2019/20
– Bidding has increased from the Greater Manchester business sector
– 2019/20 we saw 57% of all winning bidders were Greater Manchester businesses
– 25% Social Value return secured on total contract value awarded, equating to £31m delivered back to communities in 2019/20.

STAR has a continuous improvement programme which reviews the way in which we undertake procurement from:
– Planning
– Market making
– Market engagement
– Simplification of procurement (use of Risk Based Sourcing)
– Driving 20% Social Value weighting in all procurement
– Using Social Value Portal (SVP) to capture Social Value above £50K contract value to improve contract management of thedelivery of Social Value.
– Continue with the local spend improvement within Greater Manchester
– Target local/SMEs/VCSEs to engage with us

Each Partner organisation strives to have a thriving local business community which is a key element of their Corporate Plans and the Greater Manchester Strategy, and has been a focus of STAR over the past few years, reflected in our Business Plan and Responsible Procurement Strategy through our Risk Based Sourcing model. Over the last few years we have implemented new approaches to support both our communities and local businesses/ VCSEs through procurement, gaining us national and international recognition for our achievements.

Given the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19 during the early part of 2020, we recognised the importance of revising and refreshing our approach to identify immediate action to support local businesses to continue to bid and win public sector contracts but to also deliver to existing contracts and meet the requirement of their Social Value offered within their contractual arrangements. We focused on simplicity, developing stronger communication, coaching and support and timing of all procurement to allow businesses to create a strong bid and not miss the opportunity. In response, we launched our 10 point business support plan for local businesses and SME’s in May 2020 to ensure that we were doing all we could to help our local businesses and to play a role as part of the wider Greater Manchester ‘Build Back Better’ campaign.

Our 10 Point Plan includes:
– Risk-Based Sourcing – This involved the further roll out of simplified quotes targeted at local businesses, SME’s, & VCSE’s (Below OJEU)
– Market Engagement – Better using technology to continue to engage with the market ‘virtually’ before procurement begins
– Communications – Useful information for suppliers provided via our website e.g. Government policy updates. Tender opportunities continued to be advertised via The Chest & Twitter
– ‘Meet the Buyer’ Event – Moved to a virtual event and re-scheduled to November to allow more businesses the opportunity to attend
– Flexible Approach – New procurement approaches to allow for cost fluctuations and extended timescales
– Forward ‘Pipeline’ Planning – Continuing to advertise upcoming opportunities to provide opportunities & support stability for the market
– Social Value in Current Contracts – Opportunity for existing suppliers to adopt new COVID-related Social Value measures
– Social Value in New Contracts – Suppliers can select to deliver COVID-related Social Value measures and/or current TOMs measures
– Showcase Suppliers – Showcase suppliers who have supported the public sector with COVID-related requirements
– Post-COVID Requirements – Planning for what the public sector will need now and once restrictions begin to be lifted and how these can be sourced locally

STAR proactively supported our Partners and Clients since the beginning of lockdown helping local businesses through this
unprecedented situation. The 10 Point Plan demonstrates how we provide further assistance throughout the continuation of
lockdown, the new tier system, and also during the post lockdown period.

What are the key achievements?

1. Risk-Based Sourcing – 78 Risk Based Sourcing procurement projects were undertaken by STAR 1st April 2020 – 31st October 2020 totaling spend £30,793,900. 84% of contracts went to SME’s and 89% of the money was spent within Greater Manchester.
2. Market Engagement – Through the use of TEAMS and Zoom we have been able to continue to run market engagement events and continued to comply with our Market Engagement protocol. Some of these events have had over 100 business and have included professional, place, and people category areas.
3. Communications – Useful information for suppliers provided via our website e.g. Government policy updates, supplier relief and business support grants. Tender opportunities continued to be advertised via The Chest & Twitter. We continued to improve our supplier and market knowledge by gathering information and communicating to our suppliers through the use of our database software.
4. ‘Meet the Buyer’ (MTB) Event – used the opportunity to re-design our annual Meet the buyer event. The event was held over a week and took place virtually through Zoom. There were over 25 sessions across the week and nearly 600 bookings made. Sessions included top tips for tendering, Social Value, ethical procurement, and industry specific updates. Feedback from businesses has been extremely positive and supportive of this new approach. They liked the flexibility to attend throughout the week rather than a day-long event and the variety of sessions offered. Knights Corporate Workwear based in Stockport stated, ‘On behalf of my team we wanted to thank all of you who had input for this, we found it very educational and felt like we learnt a lot so big thanks from us here!’
5. Flexible Approach – We adopted new flexible approaches to ensure that we could continue as Business as Usual, as far as possible. This meant that suppliers could get more certainty for their pipeline work and kept confidence in the market. Additional flexibilities included timescales and granting extensions where needed. We ensured that tender validations pricing options were built in to contracts, which was particularly helpful to relieve uncertainty in the volatile construction industry, early lockdown.
6. Forward ‘Pipeline’ Planning – We have continued to advertise procurements throughout COVID, and ensure its business as usual for us, to help give confidence and certainty to local businesses – right from the start of lockdown, using the CHEST, Contract Finder, and Twitter. All work planning information was shared at the MTB event to give the market an understanding of what procurements were coming up, so they could understand their potential pipeline and resource themselves to respond to tenders. There will be additional early market engagement including Rochdale’s capital programme early next year.
7 & 8. Social Value in Current & New Contracts – STAR uses TOMs national framework and worked with the Social Value Portal to develop additional COVID TOMs related specifically to a COVID response. This was to help suppliers to continue to provide Social Value but in a way which helped our Partners’ COVID responses, and also the flexibility to change their Social Value to ones that were more easily deliverable through the crisis. STAR have worked flexibly with suppliers to change outcomes where they are not achievable because of COVID restrictions. We have Quarterly reports on Social Value, and in spite of the pandemic in the first two quarters of this years;
• COVID TOMs delivered £120k
• Standard TOMs delivered £2.35m
9. Showcase Suppliers – STAR has showcased good news stories and suppliers who have supported the councils and communities throughout the pandemic, particularly on PPE. We have done this through the STAR website, social media, and our Partners communications channels.
10. Post-COVID Requirements – We are working with all STAR partners and the rest of Greater Manchester to identify and plan for post-COVID requirements. Any additional requirements will be sourced locally where possible (through RBS), we will ensure all social value is developed and built around recovery, and continue to contribute to and follow governments guidance supporting local supply chains. We are proud of what we have achieved so far, and will continue to revise and develop our 10 Point Plan to deliver even more as we move into recovery. We are proud this work has not compromised value and quality for our partners, and that even during these difficult times and uncertain market conditions, we delivered over £7M of cashable savings in 19/20 and are on
track to deliver our savings targets for 2020/21.

What are the key learning points?

We recognise the importance of how simple and effective procurement can support the business communities during this COVID crisis and subsequent recovery, and believe it is important that this support plan is delivered far and wide. We want to use procurement as a force for good and to be proactive with our approach. Our aim was to continue to operate as business as usual as far as possible, to give the market the confidence and security that we are still open for trade and to ensure we communicated immediate and pipeline opportunities for them to bid for. However, given the highly complex and dynamic market conditions, resource availability both within our Partners and in the business community, and the ever changing national, regional, and local picture, this was a difficult challenge.

The 10 point plan helped us focus on what we could and couldn’t do, and to challenge our own thinking on the art of the possible. We learnt the importance of listening to the market and local businesses, to understand what they needed from us and how we could help. We had to then balance that with what was legally possible and what we could do with the resources we had available. We also had to move at pace, and recognise that the plan must be flexible enough to change and continuously improve. Importantly, although we have done a lot to support our local businesses and SME’s, and moved at a fast pace, we have a fully auditable and transparent procurement process, which ensures fairness and compliance whilst still delivering value, quality and Social Value

Key Learning Points:
– Simplicity – keep reviewing our processes and practices
– Communication – ensure all know what contracts are coming up for renewal
– Training and support – give businesses the very best chance of successfully bidding and winning
– Listen – ensure we understand the views of the business communities and those who represent them
– Pace – respond quickly to give businesses the best chance to survive
– Flexibility – adapt and adjust as the landscape changes
– Allow time – give businesses time to submit bids whilst balancing business survival pressures
– Ensure we still maintain quality and value for money
– Celebrate success – promote success stories and businesses who have adapted to deliver for the great and good for Greater Manchester
– Share our approach – So we all do our very best

We have continued to work collaboratively across Greater Manchester and further afield. We have promoted our work both regionally and nationally on the 10 Point Plan and supported others who have wanted to adopt a similar approach. We presented at the I-Network conference and took part in a webinar to help promote the work and encourage others to collaborate with us on this. We are happy to share our learning and work with others to ensure continuous improvement.

Additional Comments

This has very much been a team effort, both within STAR and with our Partner Authorities and wider stakeholders. At a time when we have all been adapting  to a turbulent market place, experiencing difficult personal circumstances and high levels of uncertainty, it has been great to have the 10 point plan in place and have real actions that will help support our communities now and as we move into the recovery. The team work, from vision to delivery, has been exceptional and made me very proud.

COVID-19 Response Recognition Award

The 10 Point Plan shows the essential role procurement has to play in both the response to COVID and the recovery. Simple, flexible and effective procurement can support the business communities during this COVID crisis and subsequent recovery, and through our 10 point plan, we have put in place tangible actions at an fast pace, and have delivered across Greater Manchester. We want to use procurement as a force for good and to be proactive with our approach.

Our aim was to continue to operate as business as usual as far as possible, to give the market the confidence and security that we are still open for trade and to ensure we communicated immediate and pipeline opportunities for them to bid for. However, given the highly complex and dynamic market conditions, resource availability both within our Partners and in the business community, and the ever changing national, regional, and local picture, this was a difficult challenge. The 10 point plan helped us focus on what we could and couldn’t do, and to challenge our own thinking on the art of the possible. We had to implement new flexible approaches to help give confidence and assurances to a fragile market place, and design new ways of working that created opportunities for our local businesses and SME’s , but also continued to deliver value for money, efficiencies, savings and Social Value to our Partners. Our approach demonstrates that supporting local businesses does not cost more to the public purse, but instead helps to build a strong and resilient local business community that will be crucial to COVID recovery.

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