Aligning the decommissioning process with statutory financial and decision making cycles is also crucial. The research highlighted problems arising where a decision to decommission is not made until close to the end of the financial year, which also ties in with the natural end of a contract or grant to a provider. This means that all the understanding and planning activity is squeezed and potentially not properly carried out. Providers need to think early on about the end of a contract or grant and develop an exit strategy. This is important for planning purposes even if the grant or contract is renewed and the exit strategy is not needed. Commissioners need to work with providers at the start of a contract/grant to ensure providers understand the need to prepare for the possible end of a contract or grant. This is also helpful to build relationships with providers.
Having clear processes that are shared and made transparent to stakeholders is a key method of dissipating anxiety. However, providers felt that the need for commissioners to stick to their plan or let them know if there were changes to the process was equally important. There were examples in our research of commitments being made but not being followed through in actuality. This can have a negative impact on the relationship with providers and users and also lead to reputational damage.