"Better at Business" Programme

With support from the East of England LGA, Braintree District Council (BDC) are driving forward their commercial aspirations.

In 2016, Braintree District Council (BDC) recognised that they required some external resource to drive and develop their commercial aspirations.  They had already formed their “Better at Business” group, aimed at fostering a more commercial approach in the organisation, but there was limited resource available to support the ideas being generated.

BDC approached the East of England Local Government Association and Gilli Galloway, their Lead Associate on Commercialisation, was engaged through the East of England LGA’s “Talent Bank” service for a one-year period to develop and deliver the plans of the “Better at Business” group.  Support was provided on two days a week for the first six months and then one day a week for the remaining six months.

The risks of the commercialisation initiative were regularly evaluated at the “Better at Business” group meetings, and were mainly around phasing projects so that they could be adequately resourced and/or funded and made the most of the limited amount of commercial knowledge available within BDC.

Areas that were supported, delivered or developed were:

  • Working with the Head of Business Solutions on the implementation of a Corporate Improvement Programme
  • Training in developing commercial business cases, which was delivered on three occasions.
  • Staff involved in leading on business case development were supported and mentored on a 1:1 basis
  • Support and input into individual business cases
  • Creation and implementation of a bidding framework to enable easy evaluation of future contract opportunities
  • Working with HR on a programme around values and behaviours
  • Updating annual appraisal template and corporate “PRIDE” programme to incorporate commercial “targets” and behaviours
  • Developing a case study template and facilitation of case studies for completed projects
  • Supporting the development of a three year Operational Commercial Plan
  • Developing and populating Performance Management Indicators for evaluating and measuring individual completed projects
  • Working with the team to develop and complete a comprehensive Commercial Programme Plan

key messages

  • Commercialisation requires a strong lead and buy in across the whole organisation
  • Commercial experience is vital in ensuring ideas are assessed, prioritised and actioned in a way that maximises the opportunity of achieving success
  • All levels of staff can be encouraged to input ideas if an environment of “any idea could be a good idea” is created
  • Successes (and delays and failures) need to be communicated in a realistic and timely manner, and cascaded throughout the organisation
  • Regular communication throughout the organisation of plans, decisions and timelines is critical to keep staff engaged and motivated to support commercialisation

Key outcomes

  • Staff benefited from experienced mentoring, support and training, developing their commercial skills and confidence
  • Constructive challenging of senior leaders led to more consideration of options and alternatives
  • Stakeholder engagement was good, with excellent feedback being received
  • Commercial awareness and behaviours are now embedded in the BDC PRIDE programme and in the annual appraisal process

“Gilli has been instrumental in the development of our commercial approach. It was great to have her experience and skill to support our officers to provide the foundation for our Better at Business programme. She has also provided a mentoring role to some of our key officers which has helped them to develop their own commercial skill.” – Andy Wright, Acting Chief Executive, Braintree District Council

“BDC came to us with ambitious plans to introduce and embed a commercial culture across their organisation, as well as wanting to deliver some specific “quick wins” against the 150+ commercial ideas that they had generated. The support and challenge that they received from Gilli was instrumental in achieving both of those objectives”
Eddie Gibson, Senior Manager, EELGA


BDC consider that they needed to be clearer on what they wanted to make best use of the EELGA resource.  They also needed to ensure that the leadership team secured buy in across the organisation.  This was good in some areas but could have been more consistent.

Contact details

Authority contact name and details: Andy Wright – Chief Executive
Tel: 01376 557700
Email:  andy.wright@braintree.gov.uk

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