Pity the incumbent NHS Trust asked to re-bid for a contract… It seems like the cards are stacked against them from the start. After all, the Commissioners know all too well where your skeletons are hidden and are fully aware of every missed KPI, broken promise, and missed opportunity to drive change and improvement.

It really doesn’t have to be this way.

The re-bid struggles of an incumbent NHS Trust are symptomatic of failures running through the contract delivery and relationship management process. View the glass as half full and you’ll see that bidding as an incumbent is your chance to show-off just how robust your delivery process has been and how you’ve helped your Commissioner meet their objectives. Of course, if you really nail it, many of your contracts shouldn’t even be put out to tender in the first place, as they should know that your organisation always delivers, and it would be folly to try and change a winning partnership. But this is so rarely the case.

So why is this happening?

Simple really. The majority of NHS organisations are not aligning their Contract Reporting with their Relationship Management approach and their approach to Continuous iIprovement. The (very!) few that do this properly struggle tell this story in a suitably powerful way to retain key contracts.

Sadly, most of the problems begin the moment the contract is won. On one side, you have the reporting which flags up which KPI’s are missed and by how much, and then you have the team who get to explain this and try and resolve the issues with the Commissioners. By focusing so heavily on the KPIs and ‘which one has been missed this month’ the entire relationship gets dragged down into the mire.

In the last year we’ve been working with our customers to focus their attention far more on their Account and Contract Management process. We’ve been challenging them with five key questions that help identify their ability to run successful contracts:

1) Can you measure the overall ‘health’ of your contracts, not just your performance against KPI’s?

2) Do you have visibility at a senior level of which contracts are working well and which are at risk come renewal time. Does this drive your focus and time spent on each contract?

3) Are your contract review meetings focused as much on driving innovation and meeting future needs as they are around discussions of your recent performance against SLA’s and KPI’s?

4) Do you have a way of tracking the promises your organisation makes to Commissioners, and can you prove that you have delivered against them?

5) Can you prove to each Commissioning body that you are innovating and improving your delivery of their contract?

Take a moment and ask yourself how your organisation is performing against these measures?

We’re extending our work in this area in 2019 to help all manner of organisations to measure and demonstrate the success (or otherwise!) of their contract delivery, from the basic KPIs through to how they are driving continuous improvement and change. At a minimum we want Trusts to be able to clearly evidence their capability to manage and deliver an effective contract. This means demonstrating how they meet the Commissioner’s immediate needs, how they keep pace with their need for improvement, and how they hold everyone to account to deliver against the promises made in order to retain the contract.

That’s not too much to ask, is it..?

Make 2019 the year you finally sort out a Contract and Account Management retention strategy that stops your customers going out to test whether the grass is greener. If you’d like to chat about the innovative work we’re doing in this space, then please drop me a line.