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Delivering Value from Procurement and Contracts


The Context

Richmond and Wandsworth Councils operate one of the largest shared staffing groups in London.  Following a very successful integration, the councils were able to save £10m each through staffing efficiencies while creating more resilience than either would have alone.

The councils identified an opportunity to build on this success and drive further savings through their spend with third party suppliers, while enhancing the organisation’s capabilities in commissioning, procurement, contract management and the delivery of social value.

There was a view among some senior officers and Members that an insufficiently strategic approach to commissioning and procurement was leading to a pattern of ‘procure and repeat’, last minute extensions and a high volume of waivers.  This was viewed as a missed opportunity to redesign services, improve performance, deliver savings and drive more innovation.

A recent audit of contract management had also highlighted the need for improvements.  The audit identified pockets of good practice but also a lack of consistency across the organisation and the need to better support officers with training, tools and learning opportunities.

The Requirement

The council appointed us to lead a review across four areas:


  1. Review the councils’ capacity and capability in commissioning and make practical recommendations for how this could be improved to create a more strategic approach.

  2. Review the capacity and capability of the central procurement team and make practical recommendations for the right size and shape of the team to go beyond operational procurement and drive more savings, innovation and social value.

  3. Review the councils’ capacity and capability in contract management and make practical recommendations for how this could be improved to become more robust and consistent.

  4. Review contracts and high value spend areas across the councils to identify opportunities for cashable savings, improved performance and greater social value.


The council required an expert partner that could not only provide industry-leading advice and best practice but make this immediately practical for the organisation, with clear benefits.


The Solution

Our approach was collaborative, working with the central procurement team and service areas across both councils in an open, transparent and supportive manner.  With our partners at Peopletoo Consulting, we blend industry-leading, expert knowledge of procurement and contract management with deep subject matter expertise in local government services.  This means that our solutions are never generic – they are tailored to the organisations we work with and the specific services in scope. Together, we have worked with more than 150 councils nationally and have expertise in all local government services, from Adults Social Care to Environmental Services and from Children’s Services to Corporate Resources.


We worked with service areas across the organisation to:

  • Identify existing good practices in commissioning, procurement and contract management

  • Identify opportunities for improvement, within service areas and council-wide

  • Identify opportunities for cashable savings, improved performance and social value from existing contracts

  • Benchmark the organisation’s capacity and skills against comparable authorities and make recommendations for investment, supported by an invest-to-save business case

The Outcomes

  • 20% saving identified from Home to School Transport

  • 25% saving identified from Adult Social Care Client Transport

  • 20% savings identified from Day Opportunities while modernising services and making better use of community assets

  • 10% saving identified from Waste Services

  • £100k additional recoverable income identified from Parking

  • 15% savings identified from Housing Repairs and Maintenance

  • 5-20% savings identified across 40 other contracts and services

  • Recommendations for improvements in capabilities, including a new Commissioning and Contract Management Framework, supported by a programme of tools and training

  • Engaged staff in the development of opportunities and recommendations

About Us

Human Engine is a Financial Times top-ranked management consultancy with specialisms in strategy, change, digital, commercial and projects.  

It was founded in 2018 with a belief that the public sector deserves better than it gets from traditional consulting firms – more human, more personal and more knowledgeable of the reality of delivering modern public services.

We have worked with dozens of public sector organisations to help transform their strategies, operations and cultures to be more agile, commercial and entrepreneurial in order to achieve financial sustainability and improved outcomes for customers and communities. 

Our mission is to help individuals and organisations to do the best work of their lives.  We do this by blending first-hand experience of the problems we help our clients solve with award-winning consulting expertise and an approach based on trust, collaboration and partnership. 

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