How we helped a housing association find hard-to-reach retrofit suppliers

How a housing association works with its suppliers is crucial. This is particularly important with the requirement to decarbonise social housing stock in line with net zero commitments.

Potential suppliers identified from across the UK
Potential suppliers engaged and submitting Expressions of Interest
Shortlisted suppliers submitting full commercial proposals
We were very sceptical at first as we know how hard it is for housing associations like ours to engage construction suppliers. But SimplyDo really surprised us with the quality of suppliers they engaged. Their process saved us so much time and effort particularly as we were working to a tight deadline. We’re absolutely delighted with the outcome!
Meg Smith, Head of Assets and Compliance, Caredig Housing


Connecting hard-to-reach suppliers with social housing challenges


Shortage of qualified suppliers to deliver highly-specialised home decarbonisation work in Wales
Difficulty identifying and engaging suitably qualified suppliers using traditional approaches (e.g. Google, networks)
Suppliers reluctance to invest time into complex and lengthy procurement process when already near capacity

Caredig (meaning “kind” in English) is an ambitious and well-established registered provider of social and affordable homes. It has a strong reputation for making a positive difference in its local communities across South West Wales. 

This included the commitment to decarbonise existing housing stock financially supported by Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme (ORP). This Programme was into a second phase of funding (ORP2) and open for applications from social housing providers across Wales. This funding would enable the installation of environmental measures (e.g. solar panels) by suitably qualified suppliers. 

In the previous phase of funding (ORP1), many housing associations struggled to find suitably qualified suppliers to deliver the work. There was a shortage of suppliers with most having already full order books. Also, there was a reluctance of these already busy suppliers to engage in lengthy and complex public sector procurement processes. 


Using a challenge-led approach to uncover hidden and qualified suppliers


Identifying and engaging hard-to-find suppliers using the SimplyDo platform
Using a challenge-led approach for suppliers to demonstrate their capabilities
Providing an open and fair end-to-end process for busy suppliers

Working closely with Caredig and Welsh Government, we created an end-to-end process to identify, engage and qualify these hard-to-find and hard-to-reach suppliers. This was designed to be simple but sufficiently robust to assess suppliers and comply with the pathway to procurement. 

The initial touchpoint for suppliers was a carefully crafted challenge webpage. The webpage outlined the requirements with an opportunity to complete an “Expression of Interest” (EOI). This stage involved proactive supplier engagement using the SimplyDo “Innovation Intelligence” functionality. This was a significant factor in engaging a strong response of 15 EOIs from these very busy suppliers.

This EOI information quickly captured core supplier data using the SimplyDo platform automated company lookup alongside short text capture sections and drop-down boxes. The information was exported from the SimplyDo platform allowing Caredig to create a shortlist of 7 suppliers to progress from the submitted 15 EOIs.


Sourcing the best suppliers with less time and effort


Identified and engaged a higher quality of retrofit housing suppliers
Fairer process for suppliers to engage with procurement opportunities
Significant reduction in the time and pressure to find qualified suppliers

This work with Caredig (and funded by Welsh Government) has demonstrated that there is a new way to engage these types of hard-to-find and hard-to-reach suppliers. The results were delivered with significantly less time, cost and pressure than previous methods used by Caredig. 

This process has led to Caredig selecting a highly-qualified supplier from a strong shortlist to deliver their retrofit housing requirements. Also, there was positive feedback from suppliers on the simplicity and fairness of the process. 

As a result, Caredig is currently looking at other ways they can lead the way on delivering challenge-led procurement in social housing.

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