North West Centre of Excellence

North West Centre of Excellence

Council Offices, Wellington Road, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 9DL
Tel: 0161 342 4080/4081
North West Centre of Excellence
About the Centre Good Practice Business Opportunities Business Plan Workstreams Membership & Management


The Centre has seven inter-related workstreams plus the work of the central unit. Within this framework are contained specific projects and tasks which are designed to achieve the centres strategic objectives. Details can be found by clicking on the links below:

Leadership and membership of workstreams

Project bids

e-procurement workstream

Standards workstream

Framework Agreements workstream

Corporate/Collaborative Services workstream

Health and Social Care workstream

Construction workstream

Local Economies workstream

Central Unit

Over all programme management is done by the Director of the Centre and his Unit, using PRINCE2 project management methodology at the appropriate level.

Leadership and Membership of Workstreams

Workstream E-Procurement Workstream
Active Members Blackpool, Blackburn, Bolton, Bury, Carlisle, Cheshire, Chester, Chorley, Cumbria, Halton, Hyndburn, Gm Fire Service, Knowsley, Lancashire, Lancaster, Manchester, NWeGG, Preston, Rochdale, St. Helens, Salford, Sefton, South Lakeland, South Ribble, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Warrington, West Lancashire and Wirral.
Reference/User Group Allerdale, Burnley, Chester, Copeland, Crewe and Nantwich, Eden, Ellesmere Port and Neston, Fylde, Gm Police, Lancashire Constabulary, Macclesfield, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, Vale Royal, Wigan and Wyre

Workstream Standards Workstream
Lead Salford and Blackpool
Active Members Allerdale, Bolton, Bury, Hyndburn, Greater Manchester Fire Service, Lancashire, Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority, Sefton, South Ribble, St Helens and Wigan.
Reference/User Group Burnley, Carlisle, Cheshire, Chester, Chorley, Copeland, Cumbria, East Lancashire e-Partnership, Eden, Ellesmere Port And Neston, Fylde, GM Police, Halton, Knowsley, Lancashire Constabulary, Lancaster, Macclesfield, Manchester, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rochdale, Rossendale, South Lakeland, South Ribble, St Helens, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Vale Royal, Warrington, Wigan, Wirral and Wyre

Workstream Framework Agreements Workstream
Lead Knowsley
Active Members Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Burnley, Bury, Cheshire, Hyndburn, Lancashire, Lancashire Constabulary, Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority, NWeGG, Oldham, Salford, South Ribble, St Helens, Tameside, Trafford, Warrington, Wigan and Wirral.
Reference/User Group Carlisle, Chester, Chorley, Copeland, Cumbria, East Lancashire e-Partnerhsip, Eden, Fylde, Gm Police, Halton, Lancaster, Macclesfield, Manchester, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rochdale, Rossendale, Sefton, South Lakeland, Stockport, Vale Royal, Wirral and Wyre

Workstream Corporate/Collaborative Services Workstream
Lead Liverpool and Rochdale
Active Members AGMA, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Bury, Chester, Chorley, Crewe and Nantwich, Cumbria, Ellesmere Port and Neston, GM Fire Service, Halton, Hyndburn, Lancashire, Manchester, NWeGG, Oldham, Preston, Salford, Sefton, South Ribble, St Helens, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Warrington and Wigan.
Reference/User Group Burnley, Carlisle, Cheshire, Copeland, East Lancashire e-Partnership, Eden, Fylde, GM Police, Knowsley, Lancashire Constabulary, Lancaster, Macclesfield, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, Sefton, St Helens, Vale Royal, Wirral and Wyre

Workstream Health and Social Care Workstream
Lead Rochdale and Sefton
Active Members Blackpool, Bolton, Bury, Cheshire, Cumbria, Halton, Knowsley, Lancashire, Liverpool, Manchester, NWeGG, Salford, St Helens, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.
Reference/User Group East Lancashire e-Partnership, Fylde, South Ribble, Warrington, Wirral and Wyre

Workstream Construction Workstream
Lead Manchester and St Helens
Active Members Blackpool, Bolton, Bury, Ellesmere Port And Neston, Halton, Knowsley, Lancashire, Macclesfield, Salford, Sefton, and Stockport
Reference/User Group Carlisle, Cheshire, Chester, Chorley, Copeland, Cumbria, Eden, Fylde, Gm Police, Lancaster, Pendle, South Lakeland, South Ribble, Tameside, Wigan and Wyre

Workstream Local Economies Workstream
Lead Allerdale
Active Members Allerdale, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Bury, Chester, Ellesmere Port And Neston, Hyndburn, Knowsley, Lancashire, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, NWeGG, NWDA, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, Sefton, South Ribble, St Helens, Stockport, West Lancashire and Wirral.
Reference/User Group Burnley, Carlisle, Cheshire, Chorley, Copeland, Cumbria, Eden, Fylde, Gm Police, Halton, Lancaster, Macclesfield, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Lakeland, Tameside, Vale Royal, Warrington, Wigan and Wyre

Project Bids

Councils and others who wish to lead on workstreams or on individual project are putting forward bids of no more than five pages.

The format is as follows:


These should support the strategic objectives set out in the business plan and should be measurable.


This should describe how the project(s) will be organised and project-managed and who will be involved. It is important we get regional cooperation. Involvement of the private sector and relevant agencies e.g. OGC should be covered. It is expected that a practical version of Prince2 will be used for project management and will form the basis for the reporting requirements to the Management Board via the Director.


These should generally be products or outcomes rather than processes. There should be a direct link between deliverables and objectives and there should be dates for each deliverable.


This will describe the plan for implementation across the region and for dissemination nationally. It may include product packaging.


This will describe the links with other workstreams with national projects/activities and other initiatives/best practice. This will serve to avoid duplication and to build on best practice.


This will quantify over time the resources required - staff time, consultancy, etc. It will specify the call on central funds and will quantify the matched funding and its sources. It will describe how the work will build upon existing work and how extra value will be added by the bid. It will also summarise the business case for the investment.

Risk Assessment

This will identify the main risks and the actions to be taken to mitigate.


This will specify things which are not included which might "reasonably" be expected to be included.

eProcurement Workstream

This is the technology workstream. It will draw heavily on the previous work of the National e-Procurement Project and that of the North West e-Government Group (NWeGG).

It will provide technology solutions, advice and guidance to other workstreams and to Councils generally on e-procurement focusing on the specific project areas.

  • Procurement Cards - Work is already underway to establish a regional agreement and implementation toolkit for the introduction of procurement cards. This stream will build on the work done to date and seek to pilot the cards use within willing authorities. Evaluating the true cost of installing such a card will be an important aspect of this work.
  • Business Portal and Market Place - A review is underway of current systems being used by other partnerships and agencies. Early findings are that this is a complex area with a number of suppliers offering solutions that overlap but which may not meet all the requirements of a local authority partnership. This stream plans to work closely with the Cumbria Strategic Partnership, which has already kicked off such a project in the region, and the Greater Manchester Collaborative eProcurement Group, to find a practical solution.
  • e-Solutions - This stream will focus on developing the further use of e-auctions and e-tendering in the region. A template for a regional e-auction programme will be created. Where available, best practice will be spread throughout the region and help and assistance will be provided to those wishing to use such technologies.
  • Training - eProcurement training needs in the region will be reviewed with some outline requirements being agreed. It is then hoped that a number of providers will join together so that training can be delivered in a cost-effective manner. This stream will also look at the best use of the available NePP consultancy days.

For updates and further information please contact Shelley Timpson at the centre. 

A discussion forum can be found at

Standards Workstream

This workstream will promote and make available best practice. It will assemble and create standard processes and templates, how to guides, terms and conditions and model contracts. All these things will be available on or via the centre's website.

The workstream will prioritise work in order to support implementation of the National Procurement Strategy.

Target delivery dates - a programme will be designed.

Framework Agreements Workstream

This will concentrate on producing appropriate contractual arrangements which will be available to all members and which will produce cost savings.

The contracts so produced will be accessible via the technology assembled in the e-procurement workstream. They will be based on the best of existing contracts, contracts which other public organisations have made available under concordat arrangements and from new contracts based on aggregated demand.

Although some areas have been selected for quick wins - telecommunications, office supplies, work wear, temporary labour and hotels and travel - there will need to be an assessment of spending across the region in order to determine the most effective programme of work.

Lead Councils will award contracts on behalf of CoPE members as is done now in the various purchasing consortia. Members will need to pre-commit to such contracts and exercise a local control over spending.

Target delivery dates are:

Regional Procurement Plan June 2005
Quick win contracts available July 2005
Programme for contract negotiation August 2005

Corporate/Collaborative Services Workstream

This will help identify opportunities for joint service provision and will oversee the implementation of such services. It will draw heavily on the work of the Strategic Partnering Taskforce and on the experience of existing arrangements, both services shared between authorities and those delivered by private sector partners.

Exemplar projects will be developed to build on both these models and to open them up to other members.

Target delivery dates are:

Exemplar projects identified and initiated December 2004
Collaborations open to other CoPE members via exemplar projects September 2005
Recommended approaches including Strategic Risk Assessments December 2004 onwards
Identification of potential savings and a 'hit' list of services April 2005
Further collaborations March 2006 onwards

Health and Social Care Workstream

This will investigate the needs of the Social Care market place and identify opportunities for market/supplier development, collaborative procurement and workforce development/procurement of labour. In this latter respect it will work closely with the Capacity Building workstream and the Regional Implementation team of the Pay and Workforce Strategy for Local Government.

An initial project will be the development, implementation and roll out of a joint commissioning, contracting and accreditation service for out of authority placements of children. This will initially be based on the Greater Manchester authorities before being open to other members.

Target delivery dates are:

Sharing of best practice January 2005 onwards
Social Care Market Assessment March 2005
Out of Authority Placements April 2005
Strategies for Workforce Development September 2005

Construction Workstream

This workstream will be based on the work and networks of the Centre for Construction Innovation North West and Constructing Excellence in the North West. It will work to introduce and implement best practice procurement in accordance with the OGC Procurement Guidelines/Achieving Excellence in Construction/Rethinking Construction Principles etc.

Target deliverables are:

Model Call-off Contracts April 2005
Construction Partnerships September 2005

Local Economies Workstream

This will consider issues related to the development of local economies at a regional, sub-regional and local level. It will provide assistance to local decision-making in assessing the impact down the supply chain of purchasing decisions. It will make recommendations regarding the use of the voluntary and community sector and the way in which SMEs are engaged with the Centre and with e-procurement in general.

It will work closely with the NWDA in raising awareness, skills and fitness for doing business with the public sector.

Target deliverables are

Procurement Impact Assessment January 2005
Model compact with Voluntary and Community Sector December 2004
Support for businesses June 2005

Director and Central Unit

This is a small unit comprising the Director, Assistant Director, Efficiency Delivery Manager and Support Team. The Director will be an advocate for the centre and its work. He will manage the overall programme using Prince2 principles and will report to the Management Board. He will establish baseline data and management information systems. In doing this call-off contractual arrangements will be made for spending assessments to be carried out by consultancies to an agreed and basic specification. He will establish a communications strategy, produce a regular newsletter and set up and manage a web site. The Director will liaise with external agencies - ODPM, OGC, Audit Commission, IDeA, 4Ps, with other Regional Centres and with other public bodies e.g. Health Service, establishing concordats with the latter.

The Director will contribute to the workstreams encouraging coordination, direction and speed of travel. He will ensure that Councils are taking the necessary action to achieve the milestones in the National Procurement Strategy.

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