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  • Nathan Goode
  • 4 minutes
  • 25/10/2023

How the TOM System™ elevates Social Value measurement

Social Value Portal's Chief Strategy Officer Nathan Goode outlines five reasons why the Social Value TOM System™ remains the leading method for measuring and reporting Social Value.

The Local Government Association-endorsed Social Value TOM System™ is the most established and trusted method for measuring and recording Social Value today. It provides an evidence-led framework with clear, consistent guidance and a fully transparent methodology.

Over the past 12 months, Social Value Portal has undertaken a major research project, examining and refining every element of the TOM System in advance of the framework’s next iteration in 2024.

The research also shows that the fundamentals of the TOM System are as sound as ever. In this article, we will show why it remains the best means of tracking Social Value delivery to people, place, and planet.

#1. Transparency

Transparency is at the heart of the TOM System. It is unique in being open sourced, fully accessible to the public, and open for scrutiny.

While some systems and tools operate as ‘black boxes’, with users unable to see underlying calculations, anyone can see the basis of the TOM System’s values, calculations, and rationale. Its methodology is open to discussion, inspiring confidence in stakeholders.

#2. Unparalleled robustness

The TOM System is set apart by the extensive research and evidencing which underpin it. With values calculated from publicly accessible data, validation of submitted Social Value data, and the backing of a team of 15 economists and data analysts, its credibility is unmatched.

Moreover, the system’s widespread adoption by public and private sector organisations over the past six years has established a wealth of data on Social Value standards, yielding insight into the most impactful measures.

#3. A complete system

The TOM System is not just a set of measures. It is a ‘theory of change’ and through its structure of Themes, Outcomes, and Measures, it enables users to deliver real social outcomes that ensure our communities can flourish and thrive:

  • Themes: The components of your vision for Social Value.
  • Outcomes: The positive changes you want to see.
  • Measures: The objective indicators used to measure how well outcomes are being met.

It also features guidance on the evidence that should be used against measures. This full system approach makes it possible for organisations to tell a complete ‘Social Value story’ with validated quantitative data and qualitative evidence.

#4. Flexibility

Flexibility is another key benefit of the TOM system. It can be adapted to reflect your (or your customers’) priorities and even choice of suppliers (for instance, small businesses or voluntary, community, and social enterprises). The TOM System furthermore is not only about reporting values and can be adapted to report on non-financial metrics as well, such as those required within the UK Government’s Social Value Model.

Some providers claim that their measurement frameworks are more flexible by virtue of the larger numbers of metrics they incorporate. But while the TOM System makes appropriate consolidations for usability, it offers an unrivalled range of options. This is because measures can be recalibrated for location, sector, and need, creating thousands of potential metrics, facilitating robust benchmarking, and enabling effective mapping against the UN Sustainable Development Goals, GRESB, SASB, GRI, and the Social Value Model.

#5 Continuous evolution

The TOM System is a living entity and we are constantly looking at how we can improve it in response to feedback from our users and in accordance with the latest research.

The next iteration of the TOM System, to be launched in early 2024, will involve rewriting the structure and methodology to make it more impact-orientated and user-friendly. We are also designing the TOM System so that it can be used by globally by businesses that want to report their impact world wide.

We embrace change and are committed to leading the way and maintaining the highest standards of robustness in Social Value measurement.

A call for alignment

The world of Social Value is diverse, and users should have the flexibility to choose the best measurement system for their unique needs. However, these systems should not be isolated, as they often currently are. At Social Value Portal, we advocate for an alignment between different methodologies, so that different systems can communicate with and complement one another.

Learn more about the TOM System™

The TOM System’s dedication to transparency, robustness, and innovation is unique in the realm of Social Value measurement. I invite you to explore the framework and its potential uses for your organisation ahead of the launch of the new TOM System in early 2024.

You can find out more on a discovery call with one of our experts.

Profile picture of Nathan Goode

Nathan Goode

Chief Strategy Officer

Nathan leads Social Value Portal’s strategic division. This includes the company’s approach to Social Value data and analytics, and embedding Social Value TOM System-based measurement in broader Social Value contexts and approaches. He brings over 20 years of experience working on evaluation, procurement and commissioning of major projects and programmes, and has a particular passion for environmental matters.