How to build a winning social value plan?

A social value plan is playing an increasingly impuortant role in government contracts, and has become the winning factor when bidding for tenders. PPN 06/20 requirements for explicit, locally relevant and contract specific social value are now over two years old. During this period, many local authorities and central government organisations have received unrealistic social value plans, including ones that have not delivered local value. Hence, social value is now under scrutiny. Companies failing to deliver what they promised are facing fines, service credits and complaints.

We at whatimpact are dedicated to support companies to build and deliver high impact social value plans with efficiency. Our Social Value Planning Tools are helping companies to define Community Engagement, Employment, Supply Chain and Environmentally Sustainable Practices in a manner that are suitable for their company structure, industry, size and, contract delivery model. By creating collaborative social value plans with tangible deliverables, partners and outcomes, companies not only improve their chances to win tenders, but also save from administrative costs and increase their impact on the ground.

Here are our tips to build a winning, realistic and engaging social value plan:

1) Be specific

The time for vague and generic social value planning is over. Local authorities and central government are looking for contract specific social value plans with tangible actions, deliverables and outcomes. Whether you intend to deliver value through internal activities (e.g. employment, training, supply chain or environmental practices) or external partnerships, the actions taken must be specified, quantified and put on a timeframe. External partnerships, e.g. supporting local communities through VCSEs, require named partners with proven outcomes, or at least examples of partners that your organisation would consider supporting, if the contract is won. This requires local touch points, knowledge and contacts. whatimpact is a great ‘virtual assistant’ on all of this.

2) Be realistic

The realism of the social value plan is increasingly more important than trying to max out deliverables with no evidence of prior success or delivery method. One should be realistic on how their own organisation is managed, structured and what kind of processes and systems they use. For example, even if a company has a volunteering programme, it is not realistic to expect volunteering to take place unless contract specific volunteering opportunities are pointed out to the staff and the programme is professionally coordinated. Another example could be employment driven social value, where acquiring a maximum number of apprentices might not suit all organisations and it is more realistic to support employment through partnering with charities and social enterprises who work within up-skilling, training and work placements.

3) Be locally relevant

Locality of social value is of essence. This is a given in local authority contracts, but should also be considered in central government tenders. Pinpointing the impact is important as the social value actions should target proven needs in our society, with local differences considered.

Local impact can be anticipated if the social value activities benefit beneficiaries living in the area or the local environment. Supporting and partnering with VCSEs is important, but the registration address of these organisations do not guarantee local impact. Therefore, choosing delivery partners based on verified data is important. This is where the importance of the ‘right match’ and efficient matching takes place – whatimpact being the leading social value matchmaking marketplace in the UK.

4) Be innovative

It might seem daunting to fulfil social value requirements in tenders if there are no local touch points, like when the contractor is not located nor visits the contract specific local area or hiring locally is not possible due to a reliance on existing special skills. The ways of delivering impact on the ground are subject to innovation and creativity! It is the outcomes that matter, not the activity itself. For example, a company can deliver training and mentoring in specific subject matters for university students or local start-up accelerators. Alternatively they can also set up a local small-grant support system for young entrepreneurs. For environment, activities can be delivered by supporting awareness training or local wildlife and clean water activities through various collaboration models. Choosing the type of activity will depend on company strengths and resources available, but the sky is the limit when it comes to using creativity in delivery! It should all stem from the mission of the company, expertise and resources and of course the inherent interest of the employees taking part.

5) Be credible

The credibility of your social value plan often comes down to evidence of past social value deliverables and activities. If your company does not have a track record or case studies of locally relevant social value and employee engagement activities, even the most perfect plan will not be credible. Therefore, social impact reporting from each delivered activity is key. It is time consuming and expensive to collect data in hindsight. We at whatimpact have a social impact reporting system automatically provided for each activity match on the platform. VCSEs partnering with your organisation provide you evidence of local impact, which can be used to support any contract related reporting to local authorities and central government. They can also be used to provide proof of your commitment and capability to deliver when bidding for new contracts.


For more content on social value planning, delivery and reporting, access our social value resource centre here.

You can also sign up for our FREE membership to get access to even more content and our Social Value Planning Tool BASIC to start your journey towards a more sustainable and successful business. 

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