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Broader Outcomes are now Pass/Fail: are you there yet?

The latest REOIs to come out of Auckland Council are taking the approach to social procurement to the next level.

After three years of seeing the Government’s Broader Outcomes approach to procurement creep up in evaluation weightings from 2% to 5% to 10% - even reaching the heights of 20% in the All of Government procurement requirements earlier this year - Auckland Council’s latest move feels like a game-changer.


To us at The Bridge, the move to requiring commitments to, and evidence of, improving social outcomes as a pass/fail matter feels like a big step up for procuring agencies.


Why?


It proves that procuring agencies are serious about making systemic change


It’s not a short-lived fad. If anything, momentum is growing among procurers: they are doubling-down in their efforts to create ‘opportunities to positively impact equality and diversity outcomes in the provision and operation of services, including a workforce that is representative of the communities we serve, where relevant and proportionate’.


Auckland Council is specific about what it wants to see from you, and now requires not only your commitment but your demonstrable action too.


It’s now a doorway through which you have to walk

It is no longer possible to risk a low score in a 2% response section by having an iffy Broader Outcomes structure, initiatives and evidence in your operations. It’s now all or nothing: you either have the approach, structure and evidence in this area, or you don’t.


This means that it is no longer even vaguely optional to do something about building a more socially-focused approach into your business’ DNA. You cannot get away with vague, inspirational statements of your commitment to diversity, making promises about what you will do if you win the contract: you have to show two things:


1. That this matters to you – by having a through-company strategy in place, promoted by vocal leaders and backed by targets and initiatives to achieve them


2. You deliver net positive impact in the way you operate as a company – within your office and team, and in all of your projects. It must align first with your vision, mission and values as company; it is not an add-on plan you keep in the drawer.


Kainga Ora have a useful definition in this area that we often refer to – Public Value:

What’s so useful about this approach is that it shows clearly what they want you to think about and act on: doing great work (yes) for a good price (yes) and to great quality standards (yes), but also to integrate economic, environmental, cultural and social improvements in the way you operate across everything you do.


It’s not – and should never be – something at the side of what you do, or an after-thought.


We know for a fact that the new Pass/Fail approach has deterred highly capable organisations from submitting a response for Auckland Council’s recent Healthy Waters REOI for example. Although undeniably capable from a technical and project track record perspective, they felt they didn’t have the evidence required to align with this pass/fail gateway.


The good news is that – at least in some instances - they are taking the opportunity to do something about this situation.


So, if you want to have your great organisational and technical track record, experience, resources, and methodologies even considered, you need to do something about it well before the tender opportunity drops. Do it now: not at tender time.


And, if you do this really well, it should also positively strengthen and extend your organisation’s underlying value proposition to your clients.


(We can help you here: our simple two-step process can help you realise what you’re already doing, where your gaps are, and how you can create a strategy that aligns with your business goals, to deliver great business outcomes at the same time as improved social outcomes. Do get in touch if this sounds like what you need to do.)

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