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Set up central management hub

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This is stage eight in the 10-stage consortium development process, and is about setting up the central hub that will run the consortium business, scope for contracts, network with commissioners and hopefully bring in contracts.

Outcomes for this stage

Key activities for this stage

  1. Work out all the tasks that you see the hub doing and who is best placed to deliver each function.
  2. Develop and agree service standards and procedures for managing the performance of the hub.
  3. (If outsourcing the hub) Develop and agree a service specification for the hub function.
  4. (If keeping in-house) Develop job descriptions and person specifications for any permanent or consultancy roles.
  5. Recruit hub staff.

Roles of the hub function

The following list of roles could sit with one central staff team, or could be outsourced to member organisations or externally. They do not necessarily all need to be delivered by the same organisation (see options for how the hub is delivered).

 

Role

Specific tasks

Lead the strategic and business planning

  • Review the operating environment
  • Undertake joint needs analyses, set objectives and targets, assess risks, appraise options
  • Undertake full cost analyses and determine unit prices
  • Lead/facilitate co-design of services and influencethe shape of service specifications and associated commissioning frameworks.
  • Lead the development of marketing strategy, communications strategy, etc.
  • Work out to how demonstrate impact
  • See Knowhow pages on organisational strategy

Influence commissioners and develop strategic relationships

Develop policies and procedures

  • Ensure that all the policies and procedures that will be required in order to bid for a contract are agreed, and there is a scheduled cycle of review.
  • Think about a suitable quality standard for the business function of the hub. This will most likely be ISO9001.
  • See Knowhow pages on quality

Recruit and manage the membership, and develop the supply chain

  • See our page on delivering contracts as a consortium 
  • Work out how the consortium can continue to grow and attract new members.
  • Ensure that there is development in place for organisations to reach the standard for full membership.

Scope for and bid for contracts

Manage contracts and the performance of subcontractors

 

Explore and raise funding where appropriate, such as development grants or repayable finance

 

Ensure good governance

Finance management

  • Manage the consortium’s contract income and hub expenditure
  • Produce management accounts
  • Commission external auditors
  • Prepare income and expenditure forecasts
  • Prepare cash flow forecasts
  • Subjecting contract opportunities to break-even analysis
  • Calculating common unit costs
  • Determining pricing strategies etc

Manage performance

Options for how the hub is delivered

This is more straightforward for managing agent or managing provider consortia where the contract management sits with the lead partner.

For newly constituting consortia with no track record of trading or employing staff, a common solution is to subcontract management functions to a member organisation, or an independent organisation like a local infrastructure organisation or council for voluntary service. The subcontracting option is attractive because it avoids investing in paid staff and office space prior to the consortium winning contracts. Subcontracting also avoids the consortium needing to develop its own employment and HR capacity and systems.

 

Central staff team

The new consortium company recruits staff to develop and support the consortium.

Virtual hub

There is no core staff. The hub function is performed by a group of individuals from the member organisations. The strategic development of consortium business is carried out by senior staff of its members, and when contracts are won, the management and administration for that contract is subcontracted to a member organisation.

Outsource to an existing organisation

The entire hub function is delivered by an organisation that has an interest in supporting the voluntary sector but does not have an interest in delivering frontline services. This is an ideal opportunity for a local infrastructure organisation (eg CVS or voluntary action organisation).

Examples of different hub models

Central staff team

Sheffield Cubed (formerly Sheffield Well-Being Consortium) originally outsourced central management functions, but ultimately decided, once risks had been mitigated, to reintegrate those functions back onto the consortium company payroll, now employing its own small staff team.

The Families Health & Wellbeing Consortium, based in Blackburn with Darwen, is another example of a consortium with a central staff team.

Virtual hub

Greater Together, a Lancashire based consortium, opted for the ‘virtual’ model. They have no central paid staff. They believe that a virtual hub can enable the consortium to be flexible and responsive, keeping overheads low whilst coping with limited funding. However, operating virtually requires a high level of commitment and time from key consortium members in the strategic business development.

Outsource to a member

Peterborough Plus opted to outsource the hub function to Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service. The two organisations remain co-located and sharing staff, and this gives the consortium the opportunity to grow and contract as needed. Peterborough Plus has a formal contract in place with the CVS for delivery of hub function services. Shared staff must account for their time, otherwise it could be seen that the CVS is subsidising the consortium.

Outsource externally

This could be considered as an option if you feel an external provider could offer the relevant expertise and experience. At this point in time, we are not aware of any consortia that have outsourced their hub function externally.

More information

Next step

Bid for and win contracts

Page last edited Sep 15, 2017

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