Welcome to the first part of the new NCVO website. While we finish building it, you will find the rest of our help and guidance on our existing site.

Last reviewed: 18 November 2020

The commissioning cycle

Last reviewed: 18 November 2020

This page gives you an overview of the commissioning cycle and suggests ways to get involved.

‘Commissioning’ is part of delivering public services. Public sector organisations use it to decide what services they are going to pay for and who is going to provide them.

Getting involved matters if you:

  • are interested in how the local council or NHS spend money
  • want to speak up for people and help them get their needs met
  • have evidence for what people need that you are able to share
  • want to raise the profile of the work you do.

Commissioning should be an ongoing process. The public sector organisations (most often local government, the NHS or police) lead. The cycle goes through four main steps.

  1. Analyse
  2. Plan
  3. Do
  4. Review

The results of a review phase feed into the next analysis phase so that the cycle continues.

Here are the main ways you can get involved as a group or organisation.


  • Provide evidence about how projects and activities make a difference. This is important for projects and activities that are not yet receiving public money.
  • Raise up voices that people ignore. You can help the people you work with be part of consultations or interviews


  • Work with other organisations to form consortiums or other groups.
  • Attend events where public sector organisations share their plans.
  • Bid for contracts or apply for commissioning grants.
  • If you aren’t bidding, represent the community you support on panels assessing bids.


  • Deliver great services and monitor them well.
  • Work with others to prove impact.


  • Share all your anonymous monitoring, evaluation and impact information.
  • Decide whether the process is working for you and the people you support.
  • Prepare for the next phase.

Commissioning can take up lots of time. It’s still a good idea to get connected even if you don't want to bid for a contract. Choose how involved you want to be.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 18 November 2020

Back to top

Sign up for emails

Get regular updates on NCVO's help, support and services