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  • 3 minutes
  • 01/12/2023
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Social Value in procurement: Our best practice cycle

By using the lever of procurement, public sector buyers can deliver untold benefits to communities and to their own organisations. Learn how with Social Value Portal's new best practice model.

When public sector organisations collaborate with their suppliers to create Social Value, they can deliver beneficial outcomes both for communities, and for themselves. But to do this, buyers must go beyond basic evaluation of suppliers’ Social Value offers, consistently measuring and optimising the Social Value being delivered.  

Social Value Portal’s public sector members have procured and fully delivered an incredible £2.26 billion of Social Value through our platform, with an average 20% of total Social Value-add relative to contract size. Our new Buyer Toolkit offers comprehensive guidance on powering up your procurement with Social Value 

Read on for some of the key insights: 

The Social Value procurement cycle 

Social Value cannot simply be an ‘add-on’. It should be embedded into a contract throughout, from the very start of the project, through to the Invitation to Tender (ITT), evaluation, and contract management phases.   

We have drawn upon our experience supporting public sector buyers from across the country to build our best practice cycle for unlocking Social Value in procurement. 

Below, we provide some of our top tips for each stage of the procurement cycle. 

Prepare 

Buyers can make sure the project starts on the right footing by using the preliminary market engagement phase to set out a robust Social Value strategy. This involves:  

  1. Identifying local needs: The differing needs of different communities should guide your approach. Uncovering these needs will also help bidders to steer their bids toward the most impactful areas.  
  2. Engaging with stakeholders and the market: Talk to the market about the needs you are trying meet, including your chosen Social Value TOM System™ Measures. You can do this with ‘meet the buyer’ events or by publishing your Social Value policies. 

Create your Invitation to Tender (ITT) 

An effective Social Value section within your ITT will give bidders guidance on your expectations and chosen scoring mechanisms. There are a number of elements to consider here, such as defining important Social Value concepts, introducing change mechanisms, and making methodologies, timelines, weightings and sub-weightings clear.  

Evaluate 

Social Value will comprise at least 10% of the total score at evaluation stage – and potentially higher. Social Value Portal’s experts regularly carry out evaluations on behalf of our members and provide evaluation trainings, which we emphasise a number of key principles.  

For example, evaluations must evaluate the correct information as presented in the bid, as well as check that submissions meet the right criteria and do not fall into common pitfalls. The clarifications period must also be treated correctly – as an opportunity to answer queries, not to improve bids or give unequal treatment to bidders.  

Deliver 

Getting the contract management phase right is critical to the success of your Social Value goals. One key principle to bear in mind is that Social Value should be integrated into your wider contract management, with consistent measurement and reporting of delivery.  

If you do encounter issues with non-delivery, you will have the option to use the remedies referenced your contract documentation. Before you do this, however, it is important to work with your suppliers to explore different options and if possible, introduce them to contacts and approaches that may help. 

Ready to power-up your procurement with Social Value? 

Check out the full Buyer Toolkit for a deep dive into best practice for unlocking Social Value in procurement, using the Social Value TOM System™ as a buyer, and much more.