Value for Money – Lessons Learned

Below is a list of lessons learned relating to Value for Money, taken from a selection of recently completed programmes and projects across the NICS.

Issue 1 – There should be regular reviews of decision to proceed, including assessment of whether value for money argument remains.

Recommendation 1 - This should occur at each project board meeting and embedded in project board and programme board workings.

Issue 2 - Objectives and benefits cannot be clearly linked to the investment. The objectives were too reliant on other external factors.

Recommendation 2 - Ensure objectives are linked directly to the investment so that benefits can be properly realised. Objectives should be measurable.

Issue 3 - An IT supplier was engaged via a Direct Award Contract to develop an MVP of the new system. However, their solution was insufficient and value for money, a prerequisite for a DAC, could not be achieved. This posed a risk that we would not be able to deliver on time.

Recommendation 3 - Scoping out the availability of IT providers at the start of a project would be a more beneficial course of action, although as a late remedy advice taken from CPD and other business units were beneficial in identifying a new supplier. Too much time was devoted to thinking about recreating a version of the existing system rather than creating something new and bespoke for the purposes of the project.

Issue 4 - Information was not collected to enable cost breakdown against each objective for the overall business case and at voluntary community group levels.

Recommendation 4 - Collect information against all business case objectives to enable informed decisions regarding value for money at all levels of service delivery.

Issue 5 - The deficiencies in the service provider's approach to recording and reporting costs were not identified at the outset. If this had been addressed at the start of the contract the VFM provisions of the contract could have been correctly and transparently applied over the contract term.  

Recommendation 5 - The Contract Management team should ensure that the approach to recording and reporting costs is transparent and in line with the contract.

Industry guidance/ further reading

PRINCE2, Managing successful projects with PRINCE2, 6th edition (2017), p. 21.

APM, APM Body of Knowledge, 7th edition (2019), sections 1.3.6. and 4.1.3.

Department of Finance: What is value for money (VFM)? | Department of Finance (

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