The Merlin Standard

The purpose of the Merlin Standard is to support the development, recognition and promotion of sustainable excellence, and positive partnership working within supply chains.

The Merlin Standard for delivering excellence in supply chain management is built upon 8 fundamental and integrated Principles:

  1. Design,
  2. Procure,
  3. Contract,
  4. Funding,
  5. Develop,
  6. Performance Manage,
  7. QA & Compliance,
  8. Review & Close.


Within each Principle, there are a number of Criteria, which provide a structured approach to achieving excellence in supply chain management.

The vision for the Standard is to ensure that it is established as an exemplar of best practice supply chain management across public, private and third sectors in the UK and Internationally.

The purpose of the Merlin Standard is to support the development, recognition, and promotion of sustainable excellence, and positive partnership working within supply chains. It is built upon 8 fundamental and integrated Principles: Design, Procure, Contract, Funding, Develop, Performance Manage, QA & Compliance, and Review & Close.

Although produced with the active involvement of the welfare to work sector, the Standard is generic by design and applicable to any organisation delivering on a contract through a supply chain.

Assessment Services Ltd provide the assessments and accreditation service for Prime Organisations wishing to achieve the Standard and be recognised for their excellence in supply chain management.

The Download section provides all the information needed to start the Merlin journey.

If you have any questions, or you would like someone to contact you about the Merlin Standard and / or the assessment process, please email

Meet Our Lead Assessors

Susan Smith

Lead Assessor

Lorna Bainbridge

Lead Assessor

Benefits Of The Merlin Standard

In complying with the Merlin Standard organisations are demonstrating our commitment to developing healthy and high performing supply chains.

For the Primes

  • Great to have an impartial review of our practices.
  • Gives an insight into the views of our Supply Chain Partners from a different and independent source.
  • Learnt more about how we work with Supply Chain Partners and how we can share best practice between divisions.
  • This has supported more positive working relationships and shared vision in terms of Supply Chain Partners.
  • Supply Chain Partners now believe we ‘listen’ and actively involve them in the development of systems and processes.
  • Acknowledgement that approach is rigorous and identifying where we can continue to improve.

Examples of the improvements Prime Contractors have seen through working with the Merlin Standard.

  • The process and the standard (including the assessment) has helped us focus on our supply chain, areas where we needed to improve but also confirmation that what we were currently doing was correct.
  • Annual review of tendering process against Merlin ensures that our process continues to be fit for purpose.
  • Sharing of our values and roles in a contract was the ‘elephant in the room’ which the Merlin assessment revealed.
  • Our Supply Chain Managers have come together and shared ideas, best practice and practical approaches.
  • Increased consultation over wider sector challenges and opportunities.
  • Wider communications regarding industry and sector have been introduced, e.g. sector policy briefings to inform suppliers
  • More structured Training Needs Analysis of provider needs..
  • We have seen a more transparent way of working and endeavoured to promote the Merlin ethos especially when working to support smaller organisations.
  • Appreciation of how valued the service we provide to our delivery partners is, more rigorous approach to performance management

For the Supply Chain Partners

  • Receive clear, transparent and timely communication about partnership opportunities,
  • Obtain a structured evaluation of their Expressions of Interest and detailed feedback should they request it.
  • Work with a network of like-minded partner organisations providing mutual benefit and support
  • Share knowledge, with opportunities to advance their own organisation’s work
  • Work in an environment and culture of respect, honesty, transparency and mutual support
  • Can expect robust supply chain management with intuitive and effective procurement systems and payment processes
  • Have greater opportunities to help more individuals, families and communities
  • Can have greater political influence, helping shape policy through involvement in debates and research

Feedback About The Assessment Process

Excellent team of assessors with good knowledge of supply chain management and the Merlin Standard.

Very well managed.

Assessors were able to make informed judgements based on the evidence gathered.

A useful guide for how we perform in supply chain management and against our peers in the industry.

Excellent assessment for validating our internal processes but also vetting ideas of how to improve.

Good opportunity to test and review our supply chain management processes with an external agent.

It focuses you on how you carry out activities with suppliers and we have seen lots of benefits.

Very good feedback from staff involved in the assessment.

Relationship manager meetings were frequent and helpful.

Very good support towards compliance at the beginning of the contract.

Our contract manager, works tirelessly supporting staff with advice, guidance and training to improve all aspects of performance as appropriate.

Involved us at each stage of the procurement process and kept us updated through meetings and e mail

The feedback from observations and their validation teams enabled us to improve aspects of our delivery and evidence submissions.

They have always ensured that they developed effective supply chains especially as no direct delivery is done in this field. Process of joining was straight forward and well coordinated

Regular best practice events were hosted and involved all members of the supply chain


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