Delivering Our 5C's: Build Collaboration

Posted: Tuesday 31st August 2021
Delivering our 5C’s: Build Collaboration

Welcome to the second installment of blog series “Delivering our 5C’s” where we discuss how we are working towards achieving the bold and challenging ambitions set out in our new Business Plan.

Our Business Plan sets out 5 objectives on which we will deliver, these are:

STARs 5 Objectives, each within a circle: Supporting Communities, Delivery Commercially, Build Collaboration, Provide Confidence, Be Courageous

Take a look at our previous blogs in this series:

This week Sue Hindle our Category Manager for Place talks about our objective “Build Collaboration”.

As our Business Plan says, as a shared service, collaboration remains a key priority for us at STAR, and we must use our skills and expertise to help drive this across our Partners and the wider GM region to secure measurable outcomes.

We have always encouraged collaboration across our Partners, and we have worked across the GM region collaboratively since our inception in 2014, including across the GM Councils, TfGM, and the NHS, sharing not only procurement exercises that benefit the wider region, but discussing policy and strategy on national and local procurement initiatives. This collaboration brings economies of scale, and helps to share best practice and drive efficiencies across the region.

This being said, there is still room for improvement, and we will be doing more to encourage collaboration across our Partners over the coming years. This doesn’t just include conducting a joint procurement exercise, it means we will be working differently, getting involved earlier in the procurement / commissioning cycle and bringing commissioners across our Partners and customers together, exploring service delivery options and specifications. Enabling these conversations will create stronger relationships between our Partners and allow space for sharing knowledge and best practice resulting in efficiencies.

Our collaboration efforts won’t just stop with the buyers / commissioners, it includes bringing in stakeholders and businesses where appropriate to help influence conversations and ensure what is ultimately bought is going to have the most impact on users and the wider community at an affordable price.

We will be exploring collaboration opportunities with existing suppliers, not just new suppliers. This includes delivery of Social Value outcomes, as well as confidence in supply chains to minimise risks of delivery and modern slavery abuses.

In the past couple of years we have been delighted to share our experiences and expertise across the public sector through the iNetwork Annual Conference, the iNetwork (Connected Procurement and Commissioning) Network, National Social Value Conference, National Social Value Conference Wales, GM Chamber of Commerce events, Local Government Association conferences, and Public Sector Solutions Expo.  We look forward to building on these, and over the next few years we will have a particular focus on sharing our learning with the third sector to help create a resilient VCSE economy in Greater Manchester.


Below, we provide a Case Study from a recent project showcasing collaboration across our Partners.

The alignment of Utilities contracts to enable 1 Procurement process to be undertaken on behalf of all 4 Authorities

Project Team
Energy Managers for: Rochdale Council, (Oldham Council for Street Lighting), Trafford Council, Tameside Council, and Stockport Council
STAR Procurement: Susan Hindle

Service Overview
The Councils previously had 13 contracts which were reviewed and it was agreed that the Councils new Procurement strategy would include:

  • Alignment of  HH and Non HH electricity Contracts with Street Lighting
  • Alignment of Gas suppliers Contracts
  • 1 process to align and secure Water Contracts

By working with the energy Managers we have moved to 1 procurement process where we review and adopt a consensus approach to assessing the benefits of each option in order to determine the delivery of overall best value for each participating authority.

This has allowed us to focus on:

  • The Standardisation of processes to enhance contract Management
  • prevention of building aged Debt (especially from Schools) with Consolidated invoicing
  •  Standardisation of requirements and reporting methods
  • Ensuring that the relevant site information is collated in a standard format and is correct at each contract review.
  • Holding clarification meetings with the preferred suppliers to ensure the Council requirements can be met and enabling the development of relationships to assist with ongoing contract management issues.

The combining of the tender process presents an attractive opportunity to the market which will allow for future developments in practices such as :

  • Requesting the purchase of our own energy baskets for Star Authorities for comparison.
  • Early engagement and preparation of contracts to further maximise the ability to procure by taking advantage of market fluctuations.
  • Obtaining governance well before the contracts need to be entered into, and having contracts signed months in advance of their start dates.

How Was Social Value Addressed
Social Value is now incorporated within all Frameworks, but when undertaking a call off or mini Competition the Suppliers are made aware of an expectation that a tailored approach for each Council should be developed. For eg: Water

Delivery of Local Social value in the form of engagement with schools on the reduction of water waste  WES posters and guidance materials, Water efficiency webinars, STEM Education. When presenting to schools each Council should work with the suppliers to establish which schools should be approached, the same with training opportunities and volunteering hours.

CO2, Green energy, Sustainability and environmental areas can be targeted with support from the providers, provision of materials for education purposes webinars etc.


  • Better Management Information  to enable effective management of aged debts
  • Standardisation of processes, payment terms and reporting
  • Identification of Efficiency Savings both on internal resource and to supply processes.

The Water contracts are going to be successfully awarded and provided a total estimated saving of £174,661.65 across Corporate and School sites.

With Electricity and Gas contracts these are liable to volatile market conditions and the application of Legislative charges such a Climate Change Levies, leaving only about 40% of the cost down to Consumption influences. 

It will be more about mitigating the cost increases than delivering actual savings but with the ability to plan earlier and contract earlier small savings may well be achieved in the future.  Efficiencies in terms of resources and administration have also been achieved.

Lessons Learnt
Implement the procurement process very early as delays can occur due to Clarifications from Legal around terms and conditions. Develop an options appraisal early - at least 6 months prior to termination of the contract - obtain the required governance to allow for the contract to be developed and have delegated authority in place in order to execute the contract well in advance of the current contract’s expiry date – this  approach may well present an opportunity to obtain more advantageous rates.