Social value doesn’t have to be so complicated for the public sector

Impact Reporting

Social value has become a huge topic this year for all organisations and industries. But none more so than the public sector.

January 2021’s procurement changes called for social value to be ‘explicitly evaluated’ rather than simply ‘considered’. Accompanying this was the government’s new social value model for building back better. This is all well and good, and something we’re all ready to work towards. But, in practice, what does it mean?

Social value is subjective. There’s no clear way to prove that you’re ‘explicitly evaluating’ it. That’s been a challenge for many in the public sector. With so much to consider, how can you best move forward?

What’s the goal?
The new social value model combines themes of COVID-19 recovery, tackling economic inequalities, fighting climate change, promoting equal opportunity, and wellbeing. That’s fantastic. But how are these measured?

We understand that robust social value systems empower us to deliver better services for end users. That by reporting on our environmental and social impact we hold ourselves to account and strengthen our relationships with key parties and communities.

Awareness isn’t the problem. It’s managing expectations and creating results that are proving time-consuming for government departments, the NHS, and local councils alike. The current process is admin-heavy; where will your teams find the time to make this a part of their day to day?

Even then, how do you clearly demonstrate the SROI? How will you draw a line between actions and achievements? How do you guarantee that social value is at the forefront throughout everything you do? And how can you be confident this is having a positive impact on the world?

What’s going wrong?
What’s currently missing is a lack of direction and clarity. These changes are robust and necessary, it’s now about finding a way to measure and report on them. Then communicating that message to the right people.

As we said earlier, social value is subjective. And while plenty of frameworks exist, they are often rigid and prescriptive, especially where there is an overreliance on proxy values. One singular solution can’t capture the nuance of all the data that sits outside regulatory requirements.

And this makes the process more convoluted. Your team is dragged down by the lack of tools needed to do their job effectively. They’re left trying to squeeze too many tasks into not enough hours of the day.

You know you want (and need) to further embed social value into your work. And you’re trying. But it’s an uphill battle. Despite the best of intentions, it’s likely eating into you and your team’s time. 

What’s the solution? 
Part of the problem is it feels there’s too much to do. But just start small and take a targeted approach. Honing in on fewer key areas is far more important than attempting to do it all. You can increase what you’re doing in due course.

Consider what’s truly important to the communities you’re operating in. Then ask how you can align this with the government’s pillars. From here, you can establish clear goals and create a social value statement that communicates these priorities to others and helps you stay on course when the time comes to evaluate the social value of projects, contracts and initiatives. 

Next, you need to ensure your team has the tools necessary to capture the data they need. By investing in the right solutions, you’ll spend less time chasing suppliers, taking a more proactive approach to delivering meaningful change. By monitoring the progress of initiatives in real time, alongside KPIs and predefined targets, you can work to continually improve your systems and services, delivering more SROI from each contract, and successfully demonstrating your growing impact to others.

Tools, such as Impact, serve as one central hub for all social, environmental, and governance disclosures. They allow you to capture data from multiple sources, analyse and evaluate in real-time, and convert into tangible, real-world outcomes. With fewer admin-heavy tasks eating into your team’s time, you can actually deliver on your goals and hold suppliers to account.

With so many outdated, overclaiming frameworks out there, you want to move towards a deeper understanding of the real changes taking place. Look for a solution that empowers you to move beyond numbers, instead grounding your organisation’s value in real-world outcomes, not outputs. A solution that allows you to integrate the government’s five pillars, stand out in the market, and prove your claims with reliable, qualitative data and insight.

The social value landscape has been all-change in recent years and will continue to do so as the sector begins to standardise, but adapting to the times doesn’t mean longer days, trying to make sense of data. Industry-leaders like Impact are here to help.

To find out more about and how Impact can help you embed social value into all aspects of your operation, get in touch.

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