Commissioning and market shaping - Frequently asked questions

What are the differences between market shaping and commissioning?

Commissioning is usually understood as a cycle of co-ordinated action, beginning with the identification of need and an analysis of the market and available resources and progressing through the specification of support to its procurement and review. Market shaping is a broader and more facilitative process by which commissioners work with providers and people with care and support needs to ensure a sufficient range of good quality services and supports are available to enable people to achieve their outcomes, both now and in the future. The responsibility to shape the market covers all the people in an area. This includes people who are funded by councils, and people whose care is funded in other ways, including if they pay for it themselves, people who use care services now and people who may do so in the future.

How is commissioning different from procurement?

Commissioning means councils assessing the care and support needs and assets of a local area and deciding what services and support need to be arranged, then designing, delivering, monitoring and evaluating those services and supports. Procurement is one part of the commissioning process: - paying for goods or services.

How do you stop rules about procurement holding back the ideas developed from the commissioning phase?

There are many myths about what is and isn't possible during the procurement phase. It is important for commissioners to be clear about these. Working with procurement professionals at an early stage is a good idea. That includes involving them in co-production. This will make it easier for them to think about the possible pitfalls in procurement in advance. Involving procurement early gives them time to assess possible options for any subsequent procurement process.