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Good, supportive, and transparent relationships lie at the heart of successful decommissioning. Although commissioners and third sector organisation (TSO) service providers disagree about what constitutes good practice in terms of how such relationships are meant to work, both sides showed there is considerable room for improvement in the quality of relationships between them.

Some TSOs expected to be consulted at all points within the commissioning cycle – and in some cases be co-producers of decisions. Some commissioners regarded this as unrealistic at best and a route to conflicts of interest at worst. Such contrasting views make it difficult to verify good practice and its impact on value for money but what is clear is that the main factors that determine the success of relationships between commissioners and providers are:

Understanding the role of TSOs

Meaningful engagement

Good communication

Managing change

What does good practice look like?

A table outlining what good practice should look like in some of the key areas relating to working with TSOs is available:

Working with TSOs: What does good practice look like?

It identifies the risks of not following good practice and looks at how these risks might be mitigated and what actions commissioners can take when the timeframe is very tight and good practice is difficult to achieve.