Most hospices review their IT and technology needs periodically. It’s not uncommon for a hospice to start by referring to a previous IT
Tender document, or search for a generic template. Whilst this often provides a good starting point, one major challenge can be the
lack of specific detail outside of key technical requirements.
Today, your IT partner needs to delve deeper and to understand goals, vision and the specific needs of departments to ensure the tender response aligns to the organistions’goals. This helps you ensure you are able to prioritise your IT needs now and for the next 2-3 years, with a high degree of confidence that you can also plan your budget over that time.
CT (Central Technology) have been supporting hospices and charities for many years and whilst there are always sector specific needs, in their experience, the most cost-effective approach is one where the two parties work more as partners.
1. Look for a partner, not a provider
your organisation at a strategic level?
of sustainability. They also need to understand your values, vision, risks, objectives, short – long
term goals, financial objectives and governance.
2. Allow the IT provider to conduct an audit /analysis of your systems.
Remove the risk of unforeseen costs
Allow a provider to do their own system analysis. This reduces the potential of nasty surprises and
unforeseen costs once onboarded. Tenderers can analyse your systems upfront and give an
indication as to what they will be looking to do to address any issues along with any project costs.
3. Hospices are not the NHS
- The traditional health/public sector style of tendering simply doesn’t lend itself to the hospice
model. It is too prescriptive and cumbersome and can lead to key IT support needs being left
out, leading to higher unpredicted costs.
- Allow the IT provider to do their own discovery work and provide recommendations and
budgetary costs so there are no nasty surprises once you have chosen a partner and the dust
has settled. CT see it far too often, whereby a hospice has already outlined what they think they
need, only to have missed things the chosen IT partner has found.
- Include the most recent strategy document or yearly report you’ve published so the IT provider
gets an initial understanding of where the hospice is from a strategic perspective.
4. Don’t be overly prescriptive
Every IT company will have a different way of doing things. Don’t make the tender too specific,
in terms of what you want. It’s more about what you want to achieve. Leave it quite open to see
how the IT provider approaches the tender with their own ideas. After all, ideas are what you
want an IT provider to give; then use your decision process to decide if their approach and
offering meets your needs.
5. Define the core requirements
- Set the minimum requirements / expectations as “must haves”. This will allow you to quickly
identify providers who cannot deliver what you want. Remove any none-starters as soon as
- Always give a foundation of information relating to your current IT setup, this will help the IT
provider decide whether they’d like to submit a proposal. Not all IT providers will be able to
support what you have in place, so you don’t want to waste time talking to providers who
don’t have the right skillset to take you on in your current state.
- List the IT services provided by the current partner. This is an easy way to ensure you have
continuity in IT if you do decide to change provider. You want to limit the gaps left when/if the
new provider takes over. This is also an extra way to quickly filter out any bidders who cannot
meet those needs.
- What are you currently putting plasters on at the minute? Give an indication as to the current
IT challenges you’re facing to get an understanding of how an IT partner would approach
6. Where does technology fit?
Clearly state where you believe you can utilise technology and implement digital ways of
working to help improve the service you deliver to your patients and service users? Get an idea
as to where the IT provider can help with this or what projects they’ve worked on to
7. Understand all points of view
Speak to your key stakeholders to establish a more rounded picture. Hospices have many
moving parts, including clinical, retail, fundraising, marketing, finance etc. It’s important to get
the view of what’s going on across the hospice. Asking simple questions like “what works well?”,
“what frustrations do you have?”, “what would make your life easier?”, “are there any tools
you’ve used in previous roles which may help your job?”. There’s no point in just getting the
view of the IT stakeholder, there may be things being swept under the carpet which could be
quickly addressed and improve staff morale for example.
8. Consider compliance and credentials
For trustees and senior management teams, credentials and accreditations are key to
providing the right level of data security and IT support to a hospice, to protect the brand of
the organisation and the security of your service user’s data. Saving money on the IT service
doesn’t always mean the right level of security. ISO 27001 and Information Governance Toolkit
credentials are the bare minimum an IT partner should have when working with a hospice.
Experience is key. Always ask for recommendations from other hospices. References and case
studies can also help but always try and have a conversation with some of the provider’s
9. Carefully consider the transition process
Switching providers can be a little daunting as it’s a major decision to take if you’re going to
change. Request a demonstration of the IT provider’s onboarding process. You want to make
sure that the transition process is as bullet proof as possible. Gaining references from other
organisations as to how the transition process worked is always a good option too.