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The Sourcing Playbook and The Consultancy Playbook

The UK government has published new guidance outlining how public bodies and suppliers can better work together to deliver value for money and improved outcomes when procuring services.

The rebranded ‘Sourcing Playbook’ replaces the ‘Outsourcing Playbook’ launched in 2019, a deliberate move to reflect the different delivery models available for public services, including outsourcing, in-sourcing or a combination of the two.

The guidance from the new playbook

Building on previous information, the ‘Sourcing Playbook’ provides guidance for central government departments and their arm’s length bodies to assess, procure and manage public services, with refreshed content to maximise value in a number of key areas:

  • Designing and publishing KPIs to incentivise the delivery of things that matter. Specifically, it says too many KPIs (more than 10 to 15 per service) will lead to overcomplicated contracts and ambiguity with suppliers. A review of the benefits being realised during contract delivery should be initially done at the 12-month stage of a contract, and every 12 months thereafter on a ‘comply or explain’ basis. The guidance also says that KPIs should align with the project’s broader social value outcomes to help ensure that identified social, economic and environmental benefits are delivered through the contract.
  • Embedding wider social value. Central government and arm’s length bodies should use the Social Value Model to explore and identify social value opportunities (COVID-19 recovery, tackling economic inequality, fighting climate change, equal opportunity and wellbeing) for inclusion in the procurement. As of January 2021, a minimum weighting of 10% for social value in a tender response will be applied to central government contracts, and should be considered by local authorities and the wider public sector.
  • Improved delivery model assessments. It is recommended that central government departments should conduct a proportional delivery model assessment before deciding to outsource, insource or reprocure a service, to determine which service delivery model offers best value for money.

Alongside the ‘Sourcing Playbook’ the new ‘Consultancy Playbook’ has also been published to provide public bodies with guidance on commissioning and managing consultants, and maximising value for money, including which delivery model to use and how to structure procurement to allow the market to offer effective and innovative solutions.

What does this mean for companies bidding into public sector?

From a bidder’s point of view, both the ‘Sourcing Playbook’ and ‘Consultancy Playbook’ provide a clear overview of government priorities when sourcing services and the principles they will adopt from planning through to contract exit. It also highlights the importance placed on early engagement with the market, signalling to suppliers their role in providing insight and expertise during the pre-procurement planning stages to ensure value for money and improved outcomes.

To support better engagement, it is recommended that contracting authorities adopt a range of best practice measures including publishing commercial pipelines at least 18 month in advance (and ideally three to five years ahead) so suppliers understand likely future demand for services across government, and consulting widely and encouraging broad participation, particularly with SMEs and VCSEs. The key to this will include making use of Prior Information Notices on Find a Tender Service (FTS), or a future opportunity or early engagement notice on Contracts Finder, as appropriate. Companies can sign up for relevant alerts on both sites to keep abreast of opportunities and provide their input.

Bid writing support

Executive Compass provide bid writing consultancy and support for organisations across the UK. We are at the forefront of any new government guidance, priorities and strategies to better support our clients in bidding into the public sector. Contact our team today to discuss how we can help with any PQQ, SQ and tender requirements.

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