The Strategic Board will oversee future work to ensure a system-wide operating model that delivers coherent business support from core enterprise and skills delivery partners. At delivery level, a senior-level working group will oversee implementation of this report, linking with existing policy and implementation groups. It will also take forward new improvements based on the principle of co-creation. These may include:
- Identifying where to cut duplication further; how best to support individual sectors; and the points at which initiatives have achieved their purpose and may cease or be handed on to others to lead.
- New joint approaches, for example building on regional pilots and progress in the South of Scotland.
- Improved collaboration with business around skills, for example embedding work-based learning in business support; encouraging the right culture for innovation; and the role of SDS, colleges and universities in supporting core business skills locally and the acquisition of new or higher level skills.
- Seeking partnership with local authorities more widely around their economic support.
- An effective forum for ensuring suitable metrics that enable partners to share data information and insights, measure effectiveness, and understand where the best impacts are being achieved.
The group will be focussed around the agencies, Business Gateway and local government alongside, for example, VisitScotland. It will build on existing collaborative groups and include further partners on a project basis. The intention is to extend this in time beyond the agencies that have been the focus of this review, for example to Creative Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland, as well as not-for-profit and private sector organisations. Within government we will bring together existing work around small business policy, entrepreneurship, and project implementation into a new team.
In addition, the Phase 1 report suggested that we consider whether there should be an obligation upon business in return for support. It is important that we support both inclusive growth and high growth whilst managing our finite resources. The degree of any obligation will mean different things in different instances. The majority of SE and HIE support already requires at least 50% matched funding by business. Other businesses could be encouraged to contribute to their own growth, for example, through management training or implementing progressive employment and workplace practices, or to wider economic and social benefits through supporting another company, mentoring, or recruiting young people. This needs to be considered further to ensure that we continue to promote good business practice in a supportive environment.
Action: Create a senior-level working group by the end of summer 2017 to drive forward our shared commitment and programme of continuous improvement.
Rigorous and consistent evaluation of existing and new programmes will be required in order to measure improvement and inform future support. Delivery partners will be measured individually and jointly by their progress in delivering collective impact. An early action for the Strategic Board, supported by the new joint SG and agency analytical unit, will be to identify strong collective measures of success that can prove real impact and value. These should include the appropriate baselines from which to measure improvement across individual priorities, as well as evidence of what works best in different localities, regions and sectors. Evaluation should be based not on the numbers of participants in individual schemes, but on outcome measures such as the survival rates of new and young enterprises, and increased productivity. There should also be a significant element of independence in evaluation, for example through supplementing the Small Business Survey every second year.
Action: Commission the new joint SG and agency analytical unit to identify suitable measures to determine progress against individual priorities and in delivering collective impact.
Improving business productivity, innovation and international performance, encouraging action to address skills gaps, and facilitating networks and collaboration amongst partners cannot be achieved by the public sector alone.
It is anticipated that the Strategic Board will engage with business much more broadly and deeply across the full enterprise and skills support agenda. In addition, we will enhance existing mechanisms, including events such as the National Economic Forum and our on-going liaison with companies, business organisations and trades unions. We will consider how we can further expand our partnerships with the private sector and co-design future support, including by better engaging and listening to businesses that are not already engaged. We will explore with private and third sector players by the end of 2017 where they can further help develop and deliver initiatives, as seen in Chambers of Commerce engagement in developing local export partnership pilots, and where public sector partners can hand others on once market failures have been addressed.
We will also consider how we maximise the impact of opportunities to celebrate business success, for example building on existing efforts to co-ordinate a single events calendar or pull them together under a single overarching banner that is anchored by a week-long annual international gathering.
Developing a sustainable model
This is the start of a journey of on-going improvement. We will seek to develop this as a sustainable model that is able to respond and adapt to changing economic circumstances, emerging priorities and new pressures, including the impacts of Brexit and changes in how Scottish entrepreneurs and companies do business. Key milestones in improving service delivery include:
- Identify members of the senior working group and, within two months of the Strategic Board being established, confirm how this group will report to Strategic Board.
- Establish a working group and a process to take forward work on the single digital access point that is appropriate and accessible to all groupings by end August 2017.
- Publish the refreshed Framework and Action Plan for Women's Enterprise.
- Establish the Scotland CAN DO Scale Steering Group.
- Partners agree proposed digital delivery model and how this will be presented - including customer journeys, integrated public sector approach etc.
- Identify and implement on-going programme of advisor training (processes, awareness raising, regular sessions, KPIs etc.). Consider creating an advisor portal within shared digital platform.
- Explore local authority partnership agreements to participate and co-ordinate their delivery.
- Plan implementation of Business ID, based on emerging ONS proposals.
- Facilitate business engagement to understand ambition better amongst the SME base.
- Consider research commissioned by the Innovation project on the specific management skills issues facing Scotland.
- Strategic Board to agree measurement criteria required to determine progress against individual priorities and in delivering collective impact.
- Partners to agree approach to equality and fair work and how to embed and drive this forward through the agencies and delivery partners, including through training and development programme for account managers and business advisers.