Procuring public services: Set foundations to deliver a great service together.

John Spanton
Account Director, Valtech

May 08, 2024

At Valtech, we’re keen supporters of Communities of Practice and have seen the value they bring in getting groups of like-minded practitioners together to share ideas for the greater good.

We therefore welcomed the opportunity to speak with Department for Transport at Crown Commercial Service’s DDaT Buyers Community of Practice to share learnings and insights from our experiences working together running Department for Transport’s Blue Badge Digital Service.

We focused on how the competitive procurements Department for Transport ran have set the foundations for a partnership to deliver a great service together. Department for Transport’s re-procurement of the now five-year-old service has recently concluded, and this felt like a great time to share some highlights.

Here are our key recommendations for procurement teams from the presentation and panel discussion.

  1. Run a supplier day. It’s a great way to engage with the market to validate requirements and seek feedback. It also helps set a consistent brief and a level playing field across interested suppliers.

  2. Exclude transition costs when comparing price. Incumbent suppliers typically have no transition costs, so these should be excluded to ensure a fair comparison.

  3. Bring stakeholders together across the buying organisation and involve them from the start. A procurement is a great opportunity to bring a broader group together to ensure foundations are set for success. Meetings to discuss the new contract were opened to a broad group of relevant stakeholders across Department for Transport including commercial/legal, policy, digital and data protection. We found having everyone in the same room (physical or virtual) is a great way to find common ground and agree a mutually agreeable way forward on points where different groups have different needs.

  4. Think carefully about the Social Value questions that you choose. This is a great opportunity to ask suppliers to commit to things that deliver greater good; it’s often most effective when relevant to the scope of works. Blue Badge Digital service is now starting its journey to being a low carbon service in response to Department for Transport’s focusing part of their social value ask on the environment.

  5. Ask suppliers to include an ongoing user research function. This is important to make sure enhancements to the service are aligned to users’ needs, which may evolve over time. The evolution of Blue Badge Digital Service has been closely guided by research findings throughout its lifetime, key to ensuring that enhancements are focused in the right places and deliver genuine value to users.

  6. Don’t assume innovation must mean big bang changes and big budget. We’ve proved innovation can be incremental and cost effective – and still deliver results. Over the course of over 100 improvement releases delivering increased usability and new features, digital uptake for Blue Badge Digital Service has incrementally increased from 37% to 84%, delivering an improved experience for badge holders and streamlines processes for Local Authorities fulfilling the service locally.

We’d welcome questions and discussion on any of the above topics, please do get in touch!

I’d be interested to know your thoughts and experiences, message me on LinkedIn to continue the discussion:
John Spanton
Account Director, Valtech

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