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Our research points to nine fundamental principles underlying effective decommissioning:

  1. Good communication Open, honest, regular and transparent engagement and consultation with service providers and users can help overcome any fear and mistrust that might arise between commissioners, providers and users.
  2. Understand needs and the provider market A good understanding of users’ needs, the existing services that meet those needs and the wider provider market will help when considering options, risks, impacts and effects on users and providers and provide better value for money.
  3. Focus on users and the community A strong focus on users, not services, will ensure outcomes are met effectively and services are relevant in the long-term.
  4. Clear rationale Consensus on the reasons why service change is needed can ensure key individuals and stakeholders ‘own’ the process and outcomes and reduce mistrust from users and providers.
  5. Understand impact A robust process of impact analyses that looks at longer term‘whole-life’ impacts of services on users, providers and the wider community can strengthen the case for change and offer better value for money.
  6. Focus on value for money A strong focus on securing value for money which protects outcomes whilst improving productivity can ensure better use of public resources.
  7. Robust risk management Identifying risks to the decommissioning process and to all stakeholders involved can make the process easier, reduce any fear or anxiety and mitigate risks to value for money.
  8. Understand costs Having a clear understanding of what the current costs (and benefits/savings) of a service are and the potential future costs and benefits can help with assessing value for money.
  9. Good governance A clear decision making process and governance structure will allow all stakeholders to understand roles and responsibilities and will ensure a clear process for decommissioning.

Commissioners involved in any decommissioning process need to consider the extent to which these are in place if decommissioning is to be successful.