Talent Bank case study: Responsible Procurement Diagnostic
Please see below a case study from Suffolk County Council:
Responsible procurement is a complex subject. No two organisations operate in the same way, which makes collaboration essential within and across different sectors, but measuring outcomes is very difficult to achieve. At the same time, many public organisations are facing other serious challenges too, including operating with reduced budgets, managing cost increases and trying to overcome skills shortages.
During 2022, Talent Bank Associates Ken Cole & Rowena Ward analysed the UN sustainability goals to factor out the things that mattered and define what good could look like for UK’s local authorities. This was developed into a series of 30 Value Codes which were then uploaded onto an online diagnostics platform developed by New Information Paradigms. Working with EELGA, Suffolk County Council agreed to pilot this Responsible Procurement Diagnostic to test if it is capable of helping organisations overcome common problems such as conflicting agendas and priorities and turning commitments into reality.
Suffolk County Council also chose to add two additional Value Codes to test how well their Climate Change Commercial Ask was embedded with commercial staff.
The pilot diagnostic was launched in December 2022. 178 people were invited to take part from different departments and with differing roles and seniority. This group provided an organisational-wide view. The data collection phase of the Diagnostic could be closed in two weeks, however this pilot was extended by 10 weeks to help understand any possible issues involving accessibility, understanding, technical glitches and effort required to respond.
Results are available through comprehensive dashboard reporting. This shows the overall assessment for each Value Code for the Council but also how each service was performing and, importantly, the perspective of the different seniority groups. We can see that it is statistically representative too. We were delighted that 51% of the people invited (90 in total) took part.
Support provided by the East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) Talent Bank
The pilot was delivered from start to finish by EELGA Talent Bank members Ken Cole and Rowena Ward. They worked to:
- Set-up the Diagnostic, manage the issuing of invitations and add the two Suffolk specific Value Codes
- Demonstrate how to use the Diagnostic to check on completion rates, reissue invitations and access online reports
- Produce post-closure reports, including detailed interpretation of the dashboard reports
- Facilitate the summary workshop
- Explain the next steps and actions
The Responsible Procurement Diagnostic is not a typical benchmarking tool measuring operational performance in the traditional way. It is about factoring out complex issues and defining what good looks like so that organisations can:
- Define their priorities and goals
- Make the business case for effective change
- Understand what resources are needed and who needs to be involved
- Develop effective marketing & communications
- Surface cultural change issues
In summary, it allows organisations to make commitments and take actions on all aspects of sustainability based on statements of fact and making an impact.
The pilot was a major success for two reasons:
- The content proved appropriate, the platform worked, and the tool was easy to use
- It’s already being used to help Suffolk County Council plan ahead and improve on its existing performance
“We are delighted with the success of the sustainability and environmental diagnostic pilot. This tool will be of benefit to councils across the East of England and beyond.”
Professor Cheryl Davenport, Managing Director: East of England LGA
“I’m delighted that we are the first Council to use the diagnostic and it has helped us to create a framework to enable us to consult staff, reflect on results, and to then focus resources in the right places. In the longer term it should help us track the progress we have made and ensure we are delivering on our efforts to continually review and improve the service we provide.”
Matt West, Head of Assets & Investment, Corporate Services. Suffolk County Council
“Protecting and enhancing our environment is a key policy priority. Using this tool provides a practical way to share good procurement practice and embed environmental priorities in the Council’s critical procurement processes.”
Caroline Davison, Head of Policy and Performance, Corporate Services, Suffolk County Council
“Using the diagnostic with key stakeholders internally is a great way to raise awareness of the importance of responsible procurement practice and encourage individuals to reflect on the opportunities they have to drive environmental and social benefits, and secure the greatest value from public expenditure.”
Steve Palfrey, Assistant Director – Waste & Environment, Growth, Highways & Infrastructure, Suffolk County Council
“The Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, and identified that reducing our Scope 3 emissions is a huge task. It requires action from staff across the Council in commercial roles to successfully implement. The Diagnostic has worked well, the ability to include additional value codes allowed us to test the internal commitment to use tools we’ve introduced that support our supply chain to reduce their environmental impact.”
Matt Hullis, Head of Environment Strategy, Suffolk County Council