Improving commissioning and procurement – Aster Group

The challenge

The Aster Group is one of the biggest social enterprise organisations of its kind currently covering the south and south west of England providing high-quality affordable homes to rent or buy, together with care, health and education services.

Alec Pegram (Operations Director, Aster) was aware that effective management of third party expenditure through its procurement and commissioning activities was going to be a source of potential savings and improved outcomes. A review was needed to establish the scale of the opportunity and determine what organisational and cultural changes were required to exploit it.

Our approach and outcomes

The immediate challenges were to get engagement from Group Company representatives and help people develop a clear understanding of why commissioning and procurement is important and how it fits together. We decided to run two open workshops which enabled people from each operating Company to share experiences and express their frustrations with the current process.

As well as the workshops, which were attended by over 30 people from across the Group, the study also included a detailed expenditure analysis and interviews with 16 people ranging from directors to operational staff and contract managers.

The report contained 16 recommendations which largely focused upon improving the quality and flow of information, Board visibility and skills and knowledge development.

What our clients say

Alec Pegram (Operations Director, Aster) was delighted with the way the study was conducted and the value it offered. He explained: “this was a real eye-opener for me in that it not only confirmed what I suspected, but also allowed the Group, for the first time, to look holistically at procurement across all operating companies, to truly maximise scale”. He added; “working with consultants who were focused on fulfilling the review rather than pushing for more work was a bonus too”.

This project was undertaken by Bluemarble partner SPS Consultancy Services Ltd. (

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