The Power of Collaboration
Outsourcing of public sector contracts has rightly received scrutiny following the recent high-profile challenges faced by large service providers. Some question whether contracts should be delivered in-house or only by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and organisations from the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector.
At Seetec we believe well-managed, mixed supply chains offer the best solution for local & national commissioners and the communities they serve. Executive Director of Employability, Chris Harrison, sets out the reasons why:
Increased access to mainstream programmes
Some smaller, often specialist, providers who deliver fantastic services locally can frequently find it hard to engage in larger contracting due to their size and financial capacity. The resources required to bid for contracts - sometimes over a period of months - can be sizeable and go beyond the resources available within SME/VCSE organisations.
Furthermore, contracts built on Payment by Results (PBR) models require providers to take on more upfront costs and risks associated with delivery; again, often out of reach for those organisations with lower cash reserves. This is where organisations like Seetec can help – by providing the financial investment and reducing some of the risk for expert local delivery organisations.
This was the case with one of our supply chain partners CMD Group in Ireland. As a long-established training provider they could see how their expertise, local relationships and understanding of the local labour market could add value to the delivery of JobPath in Sligo / Leitrim, but had reservations about the upfront investment risk in infrastructure. Seetec and CMD Group worked together to find a way that balanced some of the risk for them. This collaborative and transparent approach has underpinned a working relationship that has gone from strength to strength.
Rich and diverse supply chains of expert local providers
Using a rich mix of diverse local specialists within a supply chain will provide the best support for service users, employers and commissioners. Achieving diversity through a mixed supply chain increases the talent, skills and knowledge on offer through a broader set of organisational experiences and specialisms. This in turn stimulates greater innovation and learning.
Over the last 5 years Seetec has delivered high-quality services with 75 expert local providers embedded in our supply chains. These range from a few select local partners to fully subcontracted ESF delivery in New Anglia LEP. We build our delivery models collaboratively with our partners, bringing our strong expertise and their local knowledge together to create solutions that meet local needs.
Seetec’s approach is to create strong supply chains that complement our sector expertise and experience as a prime contractor with the diversity and deep local expertise of partners. This ensures we can offer the best possible solution for citizens, their families and communities.
For example, our delivery partner Twist Partnership delivers enterprise workshops (e.g. supported boot sales), providing work experience for BAME groups with health needs. This enriches the quality and performance of our employability programme provision, creating bespoke and responsive local solutions.
With the lines between sectors - including employability, health, skills and justice - blurring more and more, and employment rates remaining high, focus is increasingly on smaller priority groups and localised needs. ‘Primes’ can no longer say they have the expertise to meet all of the needs or specialisms themselves. To create truly local solutions, it’s important to build partnerships with a wide range of organisations. This creates the ability to flex in response to ever-changing demographics on programmes which increasingly offer no assurances over volumes. This can only happen if lead partners and supply chain partners have the infrastructure, resources and range of service delivery (commercial, grant, charitable etc) to accommodate this risk.
Seetec’s approach to supply chain design and selection includes a supportive, yet thorough, due diligence process. This includes a review of financial records, organisational capacity, capability and track record etc. But there is also a strong focus on ensuring shared values and ethics (e.g. Social Value, Disability Confident status). The closer aligned the values, the greater the chances of successful collaboration and outcomes for participants, providers and commissioners.
Increased knowledge of sharing and capacity building
In the right environment there can be a wealth of opportunity for providers in a mixed supply chain, both individually and collectively, to learn, grow and build capacity by pooling resources and sharing knowledge and experience. Partners within Seetec’s network are encouraged to work collaboratively to support SMEs/VCSEs and the professional development of their staff. This could be through facilitated provider forums, shared collaboration rooms and access to other resources such as the Institute of Employability’s online knowledge bank.
At Seetec we recognise the importance of a healthy, happy and thriving supply chain. To support this we constantly look at how we can support partners and ensure they have the right resources at their disposal. We provide access to our internal experts (e.g. financial modelling support, quality & risk assurance, reporting etc.) as well as access to software to improve efficiencies and reduce administration. This includes our ‘Qlikview’ App which provides access to real-time performance data. It’s accessible from mobile devices and is an invaluable tool for managers on the move who can access the data they need to deliver brilliantly wherever they’re working.
By listening to what our partners need - and leveraging Seetec’s scale and expertise across a range of programme management functions and systems - we can enable smaller, specialist providers (especially those from SME/VCSE sectors) to focus on frontline delivery and do what they do best: understand and support the service users their specialities are aligned to.
Through Seetec’s collaborative approach to partnerships we seek to nurture innovation and the power of co-creation with our supply chains, to ensure local services and solutions are the best they can be. For example, as part of our Work Choice delivery in London, supporting people with health conditions or disabilities into sustainable employment, Seetec, in partnership with the London Borough of Enfield, established ‘Future Clean’, a not for profit car wash; Enfield provided the premises, Seetec the supplies and we jointly managed the running of it with specialist disability support from our delivery partner Leonard Cheshire Charity. 79% of those starting employment at Future Clean went on to secure sustained employment.
Support needs are increasingly complex and funding is decreasing; collaboration is essential if we are to maximise impact and change the lives of our service users, their families and communities.
Seetec delivers local and tailored solutions for customers by working with a diverse range of partners across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. For the latest tender opportunities or for more information on partnership opportunities, click here.