Proving Services FAQs

Why has ADEPT entered into a partnership with Proving Services?

ADEPT and Proving Services have entered into an exclusive partnership to offer membership of best practice research groups and benchmarking services to ADEPT local authority members. The collaboration enables ADEPT local authority members to access the benefits of Proving’s tools and services at no cost, or at a considerably reduced rate.

Who are Proving Services?

Proving Services is a small research organisation based at Cranfield University, in Bedfordshire and was established in 2003 by two former directors of the University. The organisation has worked extensively to develop sector-leading, research-based tools and processes for the evaluation of strategic options, innovations and business change, value for money and value chain relationships. These tools and approaches are used extensively across the private and public sector. Proving Services established the Future Highways Research Club (FHRC) in 2014 as a forum for sector thought leaders to share knowledge and experiences and identify, develop and assess innovations with the potential to transform the sector. The FHRC applies academic research frameworks and methods (NB: now known as the Future Highways Research Group).

Its current research programme is captured in Figure 1:

What are the benefits for ADEPT local authority members?

The exclusive partnership between ADEPT and Proving Services has been designed to offer significant benefits to ADEPT local authority members.

 Benefits include:

  • Software toolkits & research - access to a range of software toolkits, best practice and unique, evidence-based research papers for free, or at a significantly reduced cost.
  • Influence - the chance to support strategic transformation, the implementation of sector-based innovation and deploy continuous value for money improvements.
  • Research Groups - the opportunity to take part in and benefit from three distinct Research Groups.
  • Conference ticket - a complimentary ticket to one of two annual conferences, in Manchester or London.
  • Financial savings for local authorities - membership of the VfM Benchmarking Clubs is via an annual subscription of £3,750 per club, representing a significant saving. See question 10 for further details.

What is the benefit to ADEPT?

By entering into the partnership with Proving Services, ADEPT will be taking on a number of new responsibilities. ADEPT will receive a fee of £750 for each local authority member who signs up to a Benchmarking Club. As a not-for-profit organisation, any surplus is ploughed back into the Association and used to further improve services to members.

What are the costs of membership?

Both associate membership and full membership of each of the Research Groups is free to ADEPT local authority members.

Membership of the Benchmarking Clubs is via an annual subscription of £3,750 per club, representing a significant saving for ADEPT local authority members. The average cost of accessing these tools outside the partnership with ADEPT is £5,000 - £12,500.

Why are there different types of membership?

The different membership levels enable all local authority ADEPT local authority members to benefit from the partnership with Proving Services. Membership of the Research Groups, whether as a full or an associate member, is free.

Associate Membership

All local authority members of ADEPT are enrolled automatically as associate members. While associate members are not able to attend Research Group meetings, they are able to access key benefits from each group:

  • Free access to research findings, analytic tools (except Value Analyser – please see question 9 for information), datasets and thought leadership articles available on the ‘members only’ area of the ADEPT website.
  • Complimentary ticket to one of two annual conferences at Manchester or London.

Full Membership

All local authority members of ADEPT can become full members of an individual Research Group, but numbers are restricted. Full membership gives the same benefits as associate membership but also the ability to:

  • Attend and participate in all Research Group meetings
  • Assist in setting the research agenda
  • Act as a lead pioneer for a research theme

What are the Research Groups?

ADEPT local authority members have the opportunity to take part in and benefit from three distinct Research Groups. Each specialist group, attended by sector leaders, offers similar opportunities – to debate, design, develop, test and share innovative solutions to prevailing and emerging challenges. Figure 2 sets out these activities:

Figure 2: Research Club activities

The groups are:

  • Future Highways Research Group – already established and extended to all ADEPT local authority members in autumn 2018.
  • Future Waste & Resources Research Group – to be launched autumn 2019.
  • Future Property Research Group – to be launched spring 2020.

What are the VfM Benchmarking Clubs?

The Value for Money (VfM) Benchmarking Clubs are each linked to the relevant Research Club and will be launched from September 2018. They offer members use of Proving Services’ Value Analyser TM toolkit and methodology, enabling members to undertake self-assessment reviews at whole service or function level, with benchmarking information available, if required.

For a Highways Service for example, authorities can self-assess the whole service and benchmark their performance against peer authorities, and/or assess individual functions such as Streetlighting or Winter Maintenance. These assessments clearly identify and prioritise opportunities for improvement.

In addition, members have access to quarterly training sessions with Cranfield University and access to support via telephone and email. Detailed scoring guides are also provided for whole service reviews.

The annual subscription for membership of an individual club is £3,750. The cost of this service is usually £12,500 per license, so ADEPT local authority members wishing to take advantage of Proving’s services can benefit from significant savings.

For further details of the Benchmarking Clubs, or to subscribe to the Future Highways Benchmarking Club, contact Andy Perrin, Director at Proving Services, at [email protected] or 07400 161111.

What is Value Analyser?

Value Analyser is a powerful, yet simple to use, software tool developed by Proving Services. It enables local authorities to identify and prioritise opportunities to improve value for money through cost savings, further income generation, productivity gains and better outcomes. Value Analyser focuses on the five key dimensions of value for money as illustrated in Figure 3.

For each dimension, the tool measures performance against a series of ‘factors’, that is the measures that are typically important to that service area for each dimension. Under the Economy dimension, for example, a key factor would be ‘Staff Costs.’ The factor sets are developed by the relevant research club members.

Value Analyser considers both the current performance and our confidence (evidence to support that performance) for each factor in calculating the value for money score.

Figure 3: The Proving Value for Money Framework

Once an assessment has been completed in Value Analyser, a number of reports are easily generated to illustrate the current value for money position and, if desired, how that compares to other authorities as illustrated in Figure 4:

Figure 4: Example Value for Money Benchmarking Plot

What is the certified Value for Money (VfM) assessment?

In addition to the Benchmarking Clubs, Proving Services can offer ADEPT local authority members a certified Value for Money (VfM) assessment for a single fee of £3,700. When contracted direct with Proving, the cost of this service is typically between £5,000 and £10,000. The assessment consists of:

  • A fully independent and quality assured review undertaken by Proving Services.
  • A tailored report to include key findings and a prioritised schedule of improvement opportunities.
  • A detailed illustration of the Member’s benchmarked VfM position in relation to other Club members undertaking the same VfM assessment. This is exclusive to ADEPT. With a certified benchmarking exercise, all participants have assurance that comparisons are based on reviews conducted with a consistent level of rigour.

What is the Strategic Options Analyser toolkit?

The Strategic Options Analyser toolkit is a powerful, strategic tool, free for ADEPT members, and the first of its kind for the sector. It is designed to support the analysis and prioritisation of future strategic initiatives. The toolkit is used to create a route map of business changes towards an authority’s strategic outcomes. You can find out more about the toolkit here.

Who do I contact for further information?

Please contact Hannah Bartram, Chief Operating Officer at ADEPT via [email protected] or call 07872 013707 or Andy Perrin, Director at Proving Services via [email protected] or call 07400 161111.