Cheshire East Council, with partners

Working together to improve agency staff procurement

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/ service

Having previously had their own contracts, Cheshire East (CEC) and Cheshire West & Chester Councils (CW&C) began new collaborative project in April 2015 to procure a contract for temporary staff sourcing; not just for CEC and CW&C but also ten wholly-owned companies and one charitable trust that deliver services on behalf of the two councils.
The total contract value is estimated £80 million over 4 years.
We aimed to:
• Ensure seamless transition
• Secure vfm without compromising quantity/quality of candidates
• Deliver measurable cashable and non cashable savings
• Provide an easy to do business solution for hiring managers.
• Support local economy by working with local recruitment agencies and maximising the job opportunities for residents
• Ensure hard to fill areas e.g. IT and Social Care are resourced in a timely manner with high quality candidates
• Mitigate procurement and employment risks
• Provide end to end supply chain management
• Engage high performing agencies (including preferred suppliers and SMEs) through tiered quality systems
• Develop a strategic relationship with one provider ensuring added value services e.g. tenure discounts, permanent recruitment, extended notice periods are included

Why do you think it should win this award?

Work started in April 2015. The project team included colleagues from each organisation, from HR, Procurement, Legal, Audit, Business Solutions and Shared Services.
They considered what had worked well with existing contracts and what elements could be improved. They set up bidder engagement days to get further information about available solutions, and researched other frameworks and suppliers.
Following research, the team agreed to retain a vendor neutral model and began drafting tender documentation. Fitting the procurement process around each organisations’ different internal approval processes was a challenge but these difficulties were worked through.
The tender was published on time and the procurement staff evaluated pricing and took up clarifications. Each HR team member evaluated the quality responses of the 4 bids received. We also held full team evaluation and moderation meetings both pre and post the system demonstrations.
Recommendations were made by the project team and final internal approvals obtained in November and letters and debriefing were published with final award in January.
This was a complex collaborative procurement exercise which resulted in a successful agreement that works for all organisations

What are the key achievements?

A contract was awarded to Comensura in January 2016, following 10 months work undertaken by the collaborative team.
Key achievements so far include:
• Savings in excess of £100k, plus additional savings from tenure discounts
• Reduction in off contract recruitment and improved supplier delivery
• Vendor neutral approach encourages local suppliers and SME’s
• New flexible contract including new permanent recruitment and direct hires
• Improved management information and visibility of recruitment
• New agreement with the Comensura via a new online ordering system, providing an improved user experience:
o New intuitive screen layout and design, making it easier for hiring managers to create and complete tasks
o CV’s emailed directly from the system without having to download them
o The system has been developed to work on any PC, tablet or smart device.
Post award, the team discussed the lessons learnt, where it was felt that whilst there can always be small improvements, this had been a very successful collaborative team leading to a compliant and effective contract, securing all the objectives that had originally been set. With the collaboration helping to improve value all round.