In 2019, Social Value Portal started working with the University of Manchester, not only to help the university measure social value but to create a set of specific TOMs for the higher education sector. Since then, the university has significantly improved the way it communicates social value priorities and results to stakeholders and employees, and has brought key suppliers on board.
“Before we started working with the Social Value Portal, we were aware we were delivering social value, but this wasn’t being captured effectively or reported on in a way that communicated anything meaningful,” university Procurement Officer Charlotte Hardman said. “We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, so we were looking for support from someone who is expert in the area. We wanted to use their knowledge.”
When the university first started working with the Social Value Portal, the team were keen to benefit from the hands-on advice on offer. As Charlotte said, while putting social value measures in place can be quite
straightforward, it’s a large task if you are doing it for the first time.
“We had loads of meetings and support from them, particularly at the start because it was all new to us,” she explained. “We benefited from their additional support while we’ve found our way around the system. We were keen to use their model as it was a tried-and-tested model in other sectors.”
The main work revolved around selecting the right TOMs for a university setting that would deliver what the university were seeking: a way to theme outcomes of social value and show the monetary value. Having a financial measure was particularly important to some stakeholders, who were keen to understand return on investment, such as the value an apprentice can deliver to the local economy.
Getting suppliers on board
Now the university has the portal in place, the plan is to incorporate the TOMs into tenders. While the pandemic delayed this work, the team was able to retrospectively introduce use of the portal with certain key suppliers, such as business products supplier Chariot.
“The university shows great interest in understanding the benefit of their spend in the community,” Chariot Managing Director Mike Carter said. “They want us to grow as a business, to create local jobs and boost the economy. Their support has gone deeper than just being a customer, which Social Value Portal helps them to demonstrate. Before, we didn’t measure the social value of work we did for charity, for example, but now we can clearly see it.”
Chariot received support from both the university and the Social Value Portal to measure and understand the social value of what it was already doing, such as how the company supports a local crisis centre. With this support, Mike said that using the National TOMs is quite straightforward.
“Social value can be a scary subject, it’s a very corporate term,” he said. “But when you look at the detail, which Social Value Portal encourages, we can see we’re already doing things but not measuring them.”
The procurement team at University of Manchester invited members of the Chariot team to attend the Greater Manchester Modern Slavery network meeting. This resulted in Chariot working with other business and universities, to generate publications and seminars about how SMEs can tackle modern slavery and human trafficking in the supply chains.
Chariot worked closely with the Oasis Centre, an institution who directly support members of the community in East Manchester. They sourced food at cost price which allowed Oasis to provide free thousands of free meals, and also provided materials for educational packs, which were distributed throughout the community during lockdown.
Mike discussed how, ‘the training, support and continued communication we receive from the University of Manchester procurement team over the course of our contract has played a key part in what we have achieved’.
Ultimately, Chariot’s work is a prime example of how even small changes to a company’s procurement strategy can alter people’s lives for the better, and how working closely with Social Value Portal can make good go much further.
A solid benchmark
As well as using the Portal to analyse the quantitative outcomes of social value, the university also uses it to look at qualitative outcomes. Combining the two gives plenty of material to create case studies and marketing material that can be used to engage staff and stakeholders even more. The team has bold ambitions to use that data collected to drive performance in future years.
“Using the Portal gives us a benchmark, as well as something to promote and talk about internally,” Charlotte said. “Colleagues can see what we’re trying to achieve. Social value is the only way forward, it’s only going to get bigger, so creating case studies and marketing material helps push that forward. We’d rather be at the forefront.”
The Office Stationary and Supplies project (Chariot) has so far delivered £31,477 of Social and Local Economic Value (SLEV).