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.
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.
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.
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.