Derbyshire County Council is the upper-tier local authority for the non-metropolitan county of Derbyshire in England. It has 64 councillors representing 61 divisions. They pride themselves on being great employers in order to attract the best employees, so they can deliver high quality services to people in the region.
Derbyshire County Council have joined the YPO frameworks in 2023. Comensura have an existing relationship with Derbyshire County Council, having managed their contingent workforce and associated payroll since 2007. Together, Comensura and YPO have been responsible for providing agency and temporary staff so that Derbyshire County Council can maintain essential services to their constituents.
There is a significant skills gap across the UK and Derbyshire is no exception. Staff shortages in healthcare, social services, logistics and planning have a serious impact on a local authority’s capacity to deliver services and reduces their ability to help central government meet key pledges.
Derbyshire County Council were looking to take a more collaborative and organised approach to sustainable employment, with a focus on finding local, available talent. They also wanted to help local people without the immediately required skills but who have the potential to develop and find employment within the local authority. The initiative needed to be cost and time efficient in its approach, but with a long-term outlook to ensure sustainable pricing and good levels of retention.
Although this needed to be delivered quickly, the council were committed to taking the initial time needed to ensure they found the right partner - one that offers both the most competitive pricing and best value and delivers the outcomes they require. As a result, they started the selection process 12 months before the program was set to start, speaking to the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO) and Comensura about their options.
YPO and Derbyshire County Council devised a soft market testing exercise in order to help them find the correct supplier to meet their needs. In a similar way as a tender, multiple providers alongside Comensura were invited to carry out this exercise with a view to managing Derbyshire County Council’s contingent workforce.
At the end of April 2022, with all responses received, Comensura and YPO met to present a detailed specification on how together they would help Derbyshire County Council to get the best value for money and most effective way of working, that also adapted as their needs evolved. Final presentations and due diligence were carried out towards the end of 2022 and in December 2022, YPO and Comensura received the award notification. Derbyshire County Council wanted this longer process in order to make sure that they selected the supplier that could provide the best quality candidates and level of cost effectiveness, as well as reducing the number of vacancies in understaffed areas of the local authority.
Instead of a purely contingent workforce-based approach, sourcing both permanent and temporary talent for roles was included. This was to not only ensure that all roles were filled, and labour shortages were reduced, but where permanent staff could be used, they were, in order to cut the costs involved in the recruiting and induction of new team members.
For the first time, senior level roles were included in the workforce management remit, including both temporary – to bridge gaps due to situations such as parental leave or unexpected vacancies – and permanent roles.
The new adaptive approach brought in a streamlined process for specific roles which require rapid turnaround times. This is used specifically for Care Worker requirements. In this process the hiring manager directly contacts a panel of suppliers to verbally communicate their requirements. The supplier then immediately sources and confirms directly with the Manager once a suitable candidate has been found. The supplier then creates a system booking which bypasses the need for a system order.
Another completely new initiative for Derbyshire County Council was the introduction of a Statement of Work Management solution, which is to be used across the board in all projects within Derbyshire County Council that are output based.
The use of Statement of Work will give Derbyshire County Council more control over costs, as instead of agreeing a day rate for contingent employees within a project, and the project purely running its course, there would be output-based targets to be met. This approach means more accountability, greater visibility, quality and a better level of control.
Comensura and YPO would continue to manage relevant payroll to ensure smoother recruitment and induction process for temporary staff to reduce administration costs.
There is to be regular reporting on all areas of this new approach, including subscription reports and tailored business intelligence reports, in order to demonstrate Key Performance Indicators were being made, including quality of applicants, provision of services, response times, and role fulfillment.
The key goal of all these initiatives is to streamline all processes, significantly reduce both permanent and temporary vacancies, and in turn, reduce costs at this challenging time.
Comensura and YPO’s planned solution scored significantly highly in areas that were important to Derbyshire County Council, including value for money and our previous experience with taking the strategic lead on similar projects with other local authorities.
Comensura implemented a dedicated business partner living within the local area, bringing local knowledge to the project, as well as a nearby point of contact to help keep Derbyshire County Council on track in ethically employing more local people and create more skills in the region, creating a sustainable workforce. An additional business advisor was also brought on board to support the business partner remotely where needed, providing specialist insight into local authority procurement.
Beth Capper, Senior Business Partner at Comensura and leading point of contact for Derbyshire County Council says “As a dedicated resource and the Senior BP for Derbyshire County Council I can really focus on the account in detail, be it forming and growing stronger and wider relationships with my Derbyshire colleagues or undertaking mini projects to achieve progression on key client and strategic topics.
I have full exposure across the account which can include collaborating with the supply chain and hiring managers via forum calls, guiding HR with legislation, supporting key Director level roles and providing in depth insight into cost control and areas of improvement.
By recently introducing Statement of Work (SOW) and Permanent Recruitment solutions, we have further expanded recruitment options for Derbyshire, providing an enhanced and more robust offering which will continue to grow and evolve with the needs of the client.
Working dedicated allows me to completely understand their goals and fully support them in achieving these goals. It is very much a partnership which I am extremely passionate about and proud of, not only from a work perspective but also as a resident in the Derbyshire area myself, and I am genuinely excited to see the account progress over the years.”
In adult care – where direct sourcing continued to be used due to logistical issues - continued visits to the care homes involved are being carried out to ensure that specifications are up to date, and that suppliers are still fit for purpose in providing good quality candidates. To date we have retained 99 of the 119 suppliers, and supplemented this further to strengthen key categories, optimising the supply chain with a total of 103 enrolled suppliers supporting 17 different categories.
Multiple KPIs have been put in place in terms of communication, quality, fulfilment, and reporting, with an ambitious target of 100% fulfilment rate for 2023.
“Beth continues to deliver an excellent and well-informed service, sharing her extensive knowledge and experience of agency supply. She has become a valuable part of our agency supply provision and her ‘can do’ attitude and positive approach is conducive to an effective working relationship with DCC.” States Toni Fox, Flexible Resourcing Officer at Derbyshire County Council
“Beth and the wider team at Comensura have helped to provide an efficient, cost-effective and well-informed approach to utilising agency to fulfil our senior permanent and executive interim vacancies within the Council. Our relationship with Comensura and their approach to agency management ensures we are receiving the most commercially agreeable rates whilst having the confidence that the organisation’s needs will be met by the candidates we are provided. I very much see Beth as a member of the team rather than just a ‘supplier’ and look forward to developing our relationship over the coming months and years to ensure Derbyshire residents are most effectively served by our agency workforce.” continues Chris O’Brian, Recruitment Manager from Derbyshire County Council.