Bob Harris, an experienced adviser on commissioning, volunteered his expertise to help transform St Giles Trust’s commissioning success.
St Giles could identify many opportunities for new business in its existing prisons as well as in new areas, and yet was not as successful as it wanted to be in winning those contracts. Most contracts follow increasingly demanding and formal tendering processes, often requiring significant effort and partnering with complementary service providers. In this environment, St Giles recognised the need to increase its ability to select, qualify for, structure, bid and win tendered contracts.
As part of its overall work to help St Giles to scale up, Impetus – PEF arranged support via the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants (WCoMC) pro bono scheme from Bob Harris, a founder member of WCoMC and a former Ernst & Young and Accenture partner with extensive experience in business development in the public sector. Bob brought his experience of how public sector organisations specify and procure service provider organisations, to help St Giles’s business development and finance executives review where and how best they chould “compete” and invest their efforts.
Over a fifteen-month period, Bob Harris provided 25 days of support. During this time, he helped St Giles chief executive Rob Owen and his team to craft eight specific bids, as well as building their capacity for successful tendering.
Bob soon realised that St Giles was primarily reactive in its bidding strategy. A key part of his work was advising staff at St Giles to think proactively about who might be prepared to commission their services (for example, the Ministry of Justice, the Learning and Skills Council), and encouraging them to build relationships with those groups prior to receiving an invitation to tender. Bob knew that this proactive and systematic approach to business development was the key to radically increasing St Giles’s success rate.
Deciding which invitations-to-tender to bid on was another crucial area where Bob provided expertise. Public sector commissioning is a complex procurement process, and Bob explained that there are all sorts of reasons why in some instances the best strategy might be to decline. Investing resource only in the ones most likely to succeed proved to be a winning strategy for St Giles.
The result is that St Giles won new prison contracts, and expanded the number of prisons it was working in to 24. Revenue increased by an average of 33% a year over the four years of the Impetus – PEF investment.