At Lifecycle, we’re incredibly proud of our work to help our clients save money and manage their contracts more effectively. But we couldn’t do that without the support of our fantastic team.
To shine a light on some of their great work, we caught up with Lee, one of our Implementation Managers, to chat about his recent project with a large local council in the West Midlands.
Tell me about the work you’ve been doing with the council. How did it all come about?
The Head of Procurement for a local council approached us wanting to understand how well the council managed their contracts and procurements across the various departments and teams. As you would expect, they had a vast remit of services. The challenge was that they didn’t have a centralised procurement function, so purchasing was very siloed. So essentially, they wanted to analyse and benchmark their teams’ procurement and contract management performance and report on best practices and any areas for improvement.
OK, so how did you get started?
Well, Lifecycle did not have an off-the-shelf analytics service that we offered at that time. However, as luck would have it, we had been developing a methodology to help our clients to review their procurement practices and better understand their contract management performance. The council was looking for a particular solution, so we tailored what we had already built to suit that request. The council were more than happy to work with us and be our guinea pigs! My role was working with the council’s internal project lead to manage the project’s overall implementation, including specifying the metrics we would be analysing, gathering data from the internal stakeholders and validating the responses we received.
The first step was to gather data from the council about their existing contracts, which proved quite complex since there was no central system and no uniform way of storing their contract information. So even if we were trying to gather simple data like contract value, each team would have a different way of measuring that. Were we asking for total contract values? In-year values? What about contracts for ad-hoc services? How do we measure their value? These were questions that the council had yet to consider so lots of time was spent engaging with the client to develop a data policy and rationalising and sanitising the responses that were coming back.
Once we had gathered that contract data, we could start constructing an in-depth survey for stakeholders to complete to measure the different contracts’ risk, value and complexity. We prepopulated the survey to make it as easy as possible for the respondents, which is why the previous step was so important to get right.
We got the survey out to the teams and managed to get well over 200 responses, equivalent to a response rate of over 60% which was fantastic and gave us an excellent data set to analyse. Overall I think our analysis covered contract spend worth over £1.2 billion.
Wow, so some big numbers! What did you learn?
It was clear that building a centralised and uniform repository of procurement and contract information was vital to help improve their overall performance. But the really valuable insight came from understanding which teams were performing well and investigating how these successes could be shared across the organisation. There were plenty of quick wins that we could report back to the council regarding where best practice was and wasn’t applied and where they could focus their efforts to gain the maximum return. Our report gave them much better visibility of their contracts data and has helped to start embedding more uniform processes in storing and managing their contracts data.
What did you find most rewarding about the project?
Since this was something we had never done before, it was a fascinating process and rewarding to work so closely with a client, tailoring our expertise to deliver an entirely new product that fit their needs. It took very close collaboration between ourselves and the council to develop a solution that was created hand-in-hand with them to provide precisely the insight they needed. All the reporting was done via Power BI, and it was a very iterative process to get to the visuals and data they needed to see. It was a great learning experience for me ,and was very rewarding to partner with a client to deliver the actionable insight they needed.
So what happens next?
The council were delighted with the report we came back with as it helped act as a guide to improve performance within the individual departments, but it also helped their new Head of Procurement to make a business case for more investment.
We are now moving on to the project’s second stage, which is to work with the council to implement some of the recommendations that the report has made, which is really exciting, and I can’t wait to get started.