Wrekin Consulting appointed to the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 5 framework

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We are delighted to announce, that Wrekin Consulting has been appointed to the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 5 framework. The framework will run from January 2021 for 12 months.

Now in its fifth iteration, the DOS framework has transformed the way the public sector commissions digital services – it is a simple, effective, and fast way for public sector organisations to buy, design, build and deliver bespoke digital solutions and services using an agile approach. This supports the delivery of the Government Digital Strategy, by giving buyers easy access to suppliers with the right capabilities, providing a flexible and speedy route to meet customers’ digital project commissioning requirements.

Wrekin Consulting will be providing services via lot 2 for Digital Specialists.  Lot 2 Digital specialists provide government departments with individual specialists to deliver a specific outcome with defined deliverables on a service, programme or project. These include business analysts, cyber security specialists, project managers, developers, technical architects, user researchers and many others.

We are delighted to have obtained a place on the DOS framework which will enable us to continue to provide a broad range of customers with digital expertise.

Further information  

If you would like more information on how to procure through any of Wrekin Consulting’s frameworks, please contact info@wrekinconsulting.com

 

Why do RAID logs harm negotiations? And how can RADIO improve them?

 

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Let me first define what RAID logs are.

 
They are Risks Assumptions Issues and Dependencies logs
 

Where did they come from?

 
From the experience of competitive tendering introduced in the Local Government Act’s of 1988 and 1992. Supplying organizations realised they were taking on many risks that they had no previous experience with. The services had not been fully documented. Thus, RAID logs arrived. They have become part of Prince 2 and Agile project methodologies.
 

How are they used?

 
They often mitigate against a successful negotiation. We all understand the concept of a win-win negotiation or growing the pie. RAID logs go against this concept. Commercial managers; lawyers; project managers; finance managers; spend their time trying to minimise the risks. These individuals all seek to set up clear boundaries in any proposal or contract. In doing so they reduce the pie. They seek to find clear ways of charging extra by narrowly defining the work. Such individuals spend their time excluding risks from bids. They make their tenders subject to the customer meeting certain performance assumptions or dependencies. Of course, they will exclude specific issues. This is very harmful. In seeking to design and deliver certainty, they can cause resentment. Often the parties do not feel they are in a partnership, rather an abusive relationship.
 
They can enhance the profitability of a project. In bid reviews, I have seen teams identify 20 to 30% expected gains through change controls. Such sums identified through the raid log and not shared with the Client before contract signature is likely to have a detrimental effect on the relationship.
 

Why is this a problem?

 
It creates a culture of conflict ” Oh! We did not do that because we were dependent upon you, ; it’s going to cost you an extra X”. It does not take too many such events for the parties to start to retreat and take adversarial positions.
 
Government realises if this is to change it requires organisations to overcome the people element of the process:
 
  • all projects suffer from people not wishing to give bad news
  • over-optimistic belief of what can be completed and by when
  • overconfidence in forecasting. Such forecasting is often based on historical evidence. This is unlikely to be true in an unknown future environment.
  • narrowing of risk assessment’s
  • sponsors can suffer from a little confirmation bias. They dismiss negative data country to their position
  • People’s ability to ignore red flags and push on to “just get it done”
  • the ability for groupthink to take hold
 
It is for that reason Government has been active in trying to improve its commercial cohort.
 

How to improve the situation by using a RADIO?

 
We have talked about the risk of groupthink. In our experience those associated with a RAID log are trying to identify everything that can go wrong:
 
  • They are seeking ways to identify risks and pass them off to another party.
  • Any offer they make is conditional on many assumptions.
  • They highlight issues with the project. They encourage management by avoidance.
  • They seek to place upon the customer as many dependencies as possible.
 
This is all very negative and if we are to avoid groupthink and this negativity, we need to change the group. By adding opportunities you create a RADIO log. This creates a positive attitude and reduces the inherent negativity. Individuals are no longer required to focus solely on identifying problems. They are also required to consider and capture the opportunities problems provide. Introducing other people to the team (product managers/sales/marketing) changes the dynamics. Such individuals tend to be more positive in their outlook and less risk-averse than the traditional members of a RAID log team (Lawyers/Commercial/Project Managers/Finance Managers).
 
It is time to move beyond the use of the RAID log as a means to transfer risk to the other party. Consider a model that seeks the active participation of both parties in the contract. A cloud-based portal enables all parties to collaborate in a shared workspace. You can work together on reducing the risks, assumptions, dependencies and issues while exploiting the opportunities. Similar in many ways to relational contracting.
 
HEIs are more collaborative than many commercial organisations. Thus, more likely to be an excellent cultural fit for such an approach.

you are interested in finding out about this please follow this link.

 

Disaggregation of Contracts is the way ahead!

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HM Government advised Departments (following the Ocean Liner report in 2016) that they should move away from the traditional large and complex IT outsourcing contracts towards multi-vendor, disaggregated environments together with in-sourcing where appropriate and adopting a cloud-first principle.

Great, what do we do?

Disaggregation is complex and, as with all complex activities, it takes time and, more importantly knowledge.

As a minimum, view it as a business change activity.  This requires:

  • the right allocation of responsibilities and governance;
  • identification of the skills and capabilities you require to disaggregate to operate in the new world model;
  • a programme plan that captures the present situation and then maps the way forward through clear stages to the new world;
  • creation of a real-time risk register from day one.

Principles to be guided by:

  1. A business case that shows a full analysis of the options available to your organisation which should encompass the vision of the institution for its future IT requirements, for example, a needs analysis or service requirement by the department;
  2. You should have some form of gated procedure similar to HM Treasury Green Book for developing such a business case: as the maturity develops, so does the plan.
  3. Understand scale and pace and what is achievable in the time. It is unlikely that existing Contracts will end in a time frame that is convenient for your new approach;
  4. Do not re-invent the wheel. If you can acquire items through a Framework, do so. The time and delay of going to market for something available via a Framework is unlikely to be cost-efficient;
  5. Enable separation of services at future dates by contracting for discrete services, allowing you to terminate individual elements;
  6. Document ownership and management of data, especially where it is to be processed or stored. Ensure the US Patriot Act is taken into account if you intend to use a service provided by a US entity;
  7. Understand where and who is responsible for risk, liability and indemnities. It is wise to create a flow diagram of the process, identify who is accountable for each stage and how they hand off to another provider. You can then overlay the risk and liability profile for each step to identify gaps:
  8. Be clear who is responsible for the variation for each variable. For example, having to ring a help desk to change a password could incur a charge however this becomes a licence to print money if the supplier forces many changes on the organisation for “good security” reasons;
  9. Do not let the exit provisions be an afterthought. They must be detailed and agreed pre-signature, while you still have the power in the negotiation.

Programme Management and Governance

The team must be multi-disciplinary with subject matter experts in the appropriate field. For example, if it is an IT project you will need team-members from:

  • IT
  • Commercial
  • Project Management
  • Legal
  • HR

Base Line

Start by establishing a baseline. Your incumbent may not be happy to assist you; therefore, you will need to be prepared.

How do you prepare?

One approach would be to audit the Contract and all the change notes.  This will identify if:

  1. they have been fulfilling their obligations;
  2. if they have been doing more than required, this will help in future negotiations.

Wrekin Consulting can help with this through the utilisation of iPad technology and Contract Audit ®. You upload the Contract and all the change notes (it takes approximately 8 seconds to input a 120-page Word Document) the solution separates the Contract into its obligations. You allocate each obligation to the appropriate member of the team and this provides a worklist for them to discover if each obligation is being met. If they use an iPad, they can take pictures or upload documents as evidence of what they find out.

Initial discussions

Once you have the baseline established, you can set about designing the next stages and the various negotiation plans.

The first negotiation will be with the incumbent to decide how you will disaggregate the service.

You may think there are three principle choices for which you need a negotiating plan:

  1. Assumes the incumbent will act reasonably and you can negotiate a clear exit and the necessary support for re-tendering exercises;
  2. Assumes the incumbent does not seek to help but performs according to the letter of the Contract;
  3. A mixture of 1 and 2 saying they will assist but, in fact, acting to frustrate the operation.

Unfortunately, Suppliers often see this as an opportunity to earn more from a client desperate to move away and from whom they are unlikely to make such revenues in the future. They are likely to say: “the contract only requires us to work with one replacement contractor; if you wish us to work with more, we require additional payment.”  You have to overcome the supplier’s incentive not to co-operate and to do that you need to prepare yourself with the tools to encourage their co-operation.

The Commercial team should set out a series of negotiation plans and gain approval for them before any such negotiations. Such plans would make heavy use of the discoveries in the baseline review.  If they are demanding more money, you could trade, for example, service credits for the non-delivery of x to encourage them to do it for free.

Problems you may face

Organisations are often unrealistic about the investment that will be required and what can be done or achieved in the time and fail to allocate enough time and effort in pre-tender analysis, design, and planning.

First, start by re-using past investment analysis: how was this agreement awarded, was it successful or not, what were the problems?  Re-use the approach with appropriate amendments and learning from other projects.

Next, think in a different way. You have an idea of what the future could be like, but you cannot be sure.  One way to solve the problem is to find your newest graduates and give them the problem: tell them to treat it exactly like a piece of course work and ask them for arguments for and against all of the options based on many different types of solutions.  I guarantee the way they will approach it and the solutions they will come up with will make you think.  If it does not, then ask them to do it again!

Your suppliers are often blind to the reality of risks and gaps in their bid proposals when responding to opportunities. What can you do to try and resolve this?

  • When conducting competitive dialogues, ask for a rough order of magnitude as you go along, not for consideration or evaluation. It allows you to check everyone is in the same ballpark and if what is being quoted is in line with the budgetary estimates;
  • You can reset bidders’ minds in the process. For example, when one bidder is three times as expensive as the others, they are an outlier. Why? They have never dealt with the company, but the other bidders have, they are taking an approach to risk that is not reasonable. Do not tell them they are three times as expensive but you can, with permission of the Approvals Board, say something like “I am obviously not describing the risks associated with this contract correctly as you are not on the same continent for pricing, please go away and review your dialogue notes and ask questions at the next dialogue session.”

As a Commercial, you wish to be fair to all parties and get the most competitive bids across the line at the end of the process. To do that you have to make the suppliers see the reality and ensure the tender does not leave any gaps and is crystal clear on the requirements.

An example that might help achieve this is the creation of a joint RADIO log. Have the supplier show you the risks they have identified. Add to that list your own perceived risks, assumptions, dependencies, issues, and opportunities (RADIO).  Question them about how these are built into their project plan and are costed. If they do not materialise, then how do you share the cost-saving?

Lack of realism is often seen when transitioning away from legacy prime contracts, and the potential impacts this will have on the services. The audit suggested as part of the baseline will allow you to map all the obligations/tasks etc.  It will provide a picture of reality. You can then map this reality into your new world and see if there is a home for everything.

This action removes a frequent experience of organisations that design and delivery risks surface post-award when a crisis unfolds. Often the only option is to throw money at the problem as the supplier is saying it is not their responsibility and your organisation is suffering a publicity storm and reputational damage.

What should you do?

Learn from others’ mistakes

There was a large multi-national company whose Board wanted outsourcing, believing it would provide cost savings. Unfortunately, they experienced a lot of delay from the organisation as people did not want to lose their jobs. Eventually, the Board demanded action and the organisation outsourced its invoicing to organisation A and its accounts receivable to organisation B. Crisis ensued.  Organisation A issued the invoices but would not tell organisation B the details and organisation B would not disclose to organisation A who they had collected monies from. Both organisations claimed privity of contracts. The multi-national had to create a workaround until two change controls could be agreed.

Another large organisation sought to adopt a Service Integration and Management (SIAM) model for its IT organisation. It successfully awarded the Service Integration contract and TUPE’d its staff across to them. It then awarded the five pillars (data centre, network, end-user computing, back office software, front office software).  Unfortunately, now came the problem: the Service Integrator did not have the responsibility for standing up the pillars, just operating them. The organisation no longer had any staff capable of doing this as it had TUPE’d them. The Service Integrator agreed to do the work on condition they had no responsibility for delays, failures, cost overruns and that they were paid time and materials for the work of standing up the pillars at their full rates which were about twice the cost of the rates in the Contract.

Plan

We mentioned creating a Base Line earlier and it is from this that you should work. If you have captured every obligation and task in the existing provision of service, then you can map how they will be performed in the new world. More importantly, you can then work out were the demarcation takes place in the new world and the information/data/services that need to be transferred between the providers in detail. Then you can start upon drafting the schedules for the new tenders.

Unfortunately, many organisations fail to do the planning and start with the schedule drafting, running the tender and awarding the Contract and then discover problems as they try to disaggregate services. This inevitably causes problems with staff morale, as they suddenly find problems in doing their jobs. They also suddenly find that the problems are costing the organisation more in workarounds etc.

To quote the ancient phrase “fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Tasklist to a good disaggregation

  1. Document the vision of where you wish to get to. Compare it to other benchmarked solutions to give it a quick sniff test and ask if it is reasonable;
  2. Baseline where you are;
  3. Understand what the user experience of the staff affected will be in the future;
  4. Create a Risks, Assumptions, Dependencies, Issues, and Opportunities (RADIO) log from day one;
  5. Discuss the next stages with the incumbent;
  6. Create the lots that the service is to be disaggregated into;
  7. The document clearly how the various lots will interact and the data flow and responsibilities necessary to make the new service work;
  8. Create the tender documents and run your tender;
  9. Consider sharing your RADIO with the potential suppliers and have them document how they would overcome the various elements and add their details;
  10. Review and evaluate the tenders and award the agreements;
  11. Start on the journey to disaggregation;

 

Talk to Wrekin Consulting: we can help you in each of these stages as we have tools and solutions that can be provided out of the box to help you achieve your aims.

 

Bramble Hub Partner

Wrekin Consulting Limited is very happy to say they have become a Partner of Bramble Hub. Bramble Hub enables Public Sector clients to contract with Wrekin easily under a variety of frameworks that are fully OJEU compliant. This makes it easy for you to acquire our expertise in business case development, contract creation and management. We can also provide you with a variety of software tools to improve your governance through Contract Toolkit (R); providing a quick audit on your contracting process through Contract Audit (R) and improving your Risk management through the introduction of RADIO (Risks; Assumptions; Dependencies; Issues and Opportunities).

So feel free to talk to us or Bramble Hub.

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G-Cloud 12

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Wrekin Consulting is proud to have been given a place on the G-Cloud 12 Framework.

Wrekin specialises in improving the contract management of organisations to improve profitability and governance.

How we do this:-

  • We discover your world to understand where you are.
  • We make suggestions to improve your practice and discuss them with you before producing our final recommendations.

Our recommendations will normally include a roadmap to deliver the benefits. Wrekin Consulting will work with you and your staff to deliver the benefits.

Please contact us and let us help you on your journey of improvement.

Let us give you the key to your contracts.

Keys.

Keys.

 

We can provide a contract management solution written in Claris FileMaker® a wholly-owned part of Apple inc. ®

That takes your contracts and digitises them. We then work with your staff and your suppliers’ staff to allocate the obligation to the most appropriate individuals to monitor them.

We will then support your staff in the utilisation of the system. But what about training? Of course, we will train those that need it; however, the system is intuitive, and a client recently said “we will not need to train people in how to use this system”. Developed by practitioners they sought to do what is logical for them. The system runs on PC; Lynx or Apple.

 

Contact Us

 

Let the Great British Public sort the PPE problem.

Sewing PPE kit

Activate your sewing machines for the NHS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We cannot hit the required PPE procurement through the usual methods, so pivot to add more products. How do we do this? Mobilize the Great British public.

  1. Get a small team together with a clear leader (MOD; BBC; Royal Mail, a bank) and the backing of the Cabinet;
  2. Publish all the designs and specifications for PPE online;
  3. Set up a receiving station such as MOD Donnington with a testing station;
  4. Get the Great British Sewing Bee to create a specialist programme to make examples of the product;
  5. Open the material shops on a short term basis to supply qualifying material;
  6. Ask the British public with a sewing machine to make a product;
  7. Print off a submission form from the web and include it with the goods;
  8. Post to a Freepost address at the receiving station;
  9. Test the goods, those accepted can be stored at MOD site chosen;
  10. Put accepted goods through sterilization;
  11. When sufficient sterilised goods ready, make into loads for appropriate health care settings, to be delivered by the MOD;
  12. For all product accepted, pay a standard payment which you announce at the start (upper quartile of the last tendered price would be fair) with an option to donate the cash to the NHS Charities;
  13. Bank organizes the payments (from a Government-funded account) as they are used to processing small amounts (the existing government system is too complex and this is a short term one-off activity);
  14. All product rejected return at Government’s cost with thanks and the reason so that they can correct and resubmit;

Relatively quick and simple to do and all products irrespective of colors patterns etc. would be gratefully received by front-line staff.  Cost is not the driver here, it is getting the right kit to the front line and lots of it. 

Living Wage Employer

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We are happy to say we are now recognised as a Living Wage Employer.

The real Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is voluntarily paid by 7,000 UK businesses who believe their staff deserve a wage which meets everyday needs – like the weekly shop, or a surprise trip to the dentist.

Over 250,000 employees have received a pay rise as a result of the Living Wage campaign and we enjoy cross-party support. We have a broad range of employers accredited with the Foundation including 2/5 of the FTSE 100 and big household names including Nationwide, Google, Brewdog, Everton FC and Chelsea FC.