Route 3 - Develop Strategy - Stakeholder Identification
To ensure that the requirements of stakeholders are met and maximum compliance is achieved, a cross-functional team, or User Intelligence Group (UIG), should be established. The UIG will assist you when developing the commodity/service strategy, assist with tender evaluation and the ongoing activities of contract/supplier management, monitoring, implementation, compliance and benefits tracking.
This group should have representation from key stakeholders within the participating Organisation(s) and should include procurement and business/technical/customer representatives.
For procurements other than Care and Support Services, this UIG could consist of only two members e.g. the Procurement Officer and the end user.
You should undertake appropriate research prior to the first meeting, for example:
- Gain an understanding of the market for a commodity/service from desktop research, e.g. via the internet
- Speak to potential supplier or industry representatives
- Meet with individual key stakeholders and end-users
- Review historical spend patterns if appropriate
- Gather information from other public sector contacts, such as Centres of Expertise or peers
- Read previous tenders or commodity/service strategies
This research will help you gain an initial understanding of the commodity/service, the Organisation's requirements, market conditions and some of the risks, issues and barriers to success they may face. It will also help highlight any contracts which you may be able to access for your requirement without the cost, time and risk of developing your own contract.
At this stage, consideration should also be given to the sustainability factors that you would like to build into your process and efforts made to identify any expert or informed input that will be required, e.g. guidance from Climate Change experts on carbon in the specific supply chain or input from Economic Development officers regarding employment opportunities.
The benefits of establishing a UIG are:
- The ability to draw on the cross-functional expertise within the group
- Ensures stakeholder views are considered in the decision making process
- Clear communication channels can be established
- Presents 'one face' to potential suppliers
- Formalises the governance arrangements and identifies the decision makers
- Clarifies roles and responsibilities
- Facilitates the generation of ideas
- Facilitates buy-in and compliance
- Stakeholders should work together to understand and overcome any barriers to success, to embed best practice and to support the implementation of continuous improvement processes to safeguard the future of public service for future generations, and to bring together the ideas and insights of these groups to obtain a holistic view.
- Stakeholders should work to:
- Embed best practice
- Encourage and sponsor continuous improvement
- Encourage innovation
- Understand and remove any potential barriers to success
Where there are a large number of stakeholders, for example a collaborative contract, it may not be possible to have all stakeholders represented on the UIG. Stakeholder mapping is a useful tool to help identify who should be represented based upon their likely impact upon the success of the project. You must also ensure you understand your Organisation's policy or requirements regarding engaging with end users/customers of the commodity/service or service and whether they should also be involved in the UIG.
Depending on the specifics of the procurement exercise, the Procurement Officer may ask stakeholders the following questions prior to the commencement of the procurement exercise (these questions should already have been answered at the Decision Matrix stage of the process):
- Have alternatives to procuring been considered and discounted and do you have a budget?
- Is there a robust documented business case supporting this procurement exercise?
- Will this expenditure stand up to public scrutiny?
- Are you aware of opportunities to buy your specific requirement through existing collaborative contracts and do you know how to access them?
For the procurement exercise to be effective it must meet the reasonable expectations of stakeholders and end users therefore a clear understanding of stakeholder and end users' views is essential. In order to obtain this understanding there must be effective engagement and you must take into account all views of your stakeholders. Many stakeholders will be positive and supportive however, it is also important that you consider the reasons why stakeholders may not be fully supportive.
In order to manage this you may wish to consider some of the following:
- Ask your colleagues whether they know of any strong views stakeholders may hold to gain an understanding of any issues that may arise and reasons for these
- Meet with stakeholders on a 1:1 basis in advance to understand their views and concerns
- Ensure stakeholders are encouraged to contribute fully
- Ensure a good governance structure is in place which should include identifying and addressing any conflicts of interest
The stakeholder map is a useful tool for the UIG to plan communications to stakeholders who are not UIG members. Some of the key characteristics of a successful UIG are shown in the attached slide.
You may wish to issue the attached UIG Welcome Pack which covers Roles and Responsibilities, core competencies, business conduct, gifts and hospitality and a Stakeholder Declaration of Interest. A UIG charter should be agreed and an example is provided.
Members of the UIG should not underestimate the amount of time and commitment involved in being a team member. Although the team itself may typically meet only fortnightly or monthly there will be work to be completed in-between meetings and members should come to meetings fully prepared. The UIG Membership Template can be used to record UIG membership and contact details.
Stakeholders should always be open to new ways of shaping the requirement by sounding out the market and identifying what the market is able to provide. They should give consideration to the options for shaping the market, encouraging the market to develop in such a way that it can meet Organisations’ future requirements. There should be an assessment of future demand of the commodity/service, based upon the knowledge and expertise within the team and upon information obtained from communications with non-team members. Engaging the market provides an opportunity to ensure that the services provided are at the forefront of those available. Market sounding should also take in account the knowledge held by other buying Organisations, trade bodies and business support Organisations e.g. Federation of Small Businesses and Chambers of Commerce etc.
Care should be taken to protect the principles of transparency and equal treatment during such discussions. It is strongly recommended that market sounding activity is documented so that, if later challenged, there is a record on file of what took place at this stage of the process.