Working in collaboration with industry partners, toolkits and platforms have been designed at the Management School, to help organisations implement effective and positive change on their organisations and the economy. This section shows some of our latest toolkits available, that have been used across private and public sector organisations.


Developed by Dr Kamal Birdi at the Institute of Work Psychology (IWP) at the Management School, the aim of this model is to outline an organisation’s best practice for improving and maintaining the development of its employee innovation capabilities, to both better generate (IDEAS) and implement (CLEAR) new ideas in the workplace. Kamal has run training workshops based on the CLEAR IDEAS model with over 200 managers from 18 public sector organisations in the Sheffield City Region since 2010.

The CLEAR IDEAS innovation development methodology translates research findings on effective innovation into improved organisational practice by developing the skills of managers to both better generate (IDEAS steps – Illuminate, Detail, Erupt, Assess, Select) and implement (CLEAR steps – Commit, Lead, Engage, Align, Review) new ideas in the workplace. Its core components are based on a number of research projects completed by Dr Birdi at the University of Sheffield since 1999.

Dr Birdi designed and conducts a two-day, ten-credit University of Sheffield module on innovation built around the CLEAR IDEAS model, where participants apply the model to real-life problems facing them.

The evaluation data collected from the workshops as well as new research has been used to continuously refine and improve the CLEAR IDEAS methodology. The model has also been used with members of national bodies such as the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (2012), the Scottish Government (2011, 2013) and the British Psychological Society (2010-2013).

Download the CLEAR IDEAS app for iPad here.

Evidence shows significant improvements in the innovation skill resources of CLEAR IDEAS training workshop participants, leading to notable organisation impacts including:

• The development of more cost-effective and efficient adult social care services in Sheffield City Council, leading to an estimated saving of £1.7million.
• The adoption of the CLEAR IDEAS methodology for driving continuous improvement strategy in South Yorkshire Police.
• More cost-effective fitting of smoke alarms and development of new services aimed at improving safety and citizenship of young people, by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.
• Improved healthcare practice in an NHS Foundation Trust.
• Creation of a more business-inclusive Local Nature Partnership by South Yorkshire Forest.

Dr Kamaljit Birdi, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Psychology

Phone:+44 (0)114 222 3288
Link to iPad app:

The SCEnAT tool

SCEnAT, the Supply Chain Environmental Analysis Tool, has been developed following research within Sheffield University Management School into low carbon supply chain, which aimed to design a system that could integrate different techniques and methods of supply chain mapping and carbon accounting, suggesting interventions that would reduce carbon footprint whilst improving efficiency. The Sheffield team then developed software based on the relationships identified that, using data from any supply chain, can be applied to reveal the points of highest carbon consumption and interventions that have the most cost-effective impact on the carbon footprint.

The tool successfully allows businesses to analyse their supply chain, identifying any carbon hotspots where reductions in carbon emissions may be possible, and provides suggested solutions to reduce or eliminate these hotspots. The research has also been used by regional business organisations in developing and implementing growth strategies to support low carbon businesses in Yorkshire and Humber.

SCEnAT is a modular supply chain modelling tool, which can provide a complete map of the environmental impact of your supply chain. It provides visibility, transparency and traceability across the full supply chain and has a web interface making it easy and free to companies to access, and through a cloud computing platform remote usage and use of simulation data is possible.

The process:

  • Map Your Supply Chain
  • Calculate Your Supply Chain’s Carbon Emissions
  • Provide options for suggested Interventions
  • Evaluate the Impact on your Emissions
  • Make informed decisions
  • Improved Resource Efficiency
  • Evaluate the sustainability of your supply chain
  • Potential to reduce your product lifecycle costs, and tax costs
  • Potential to reduce your product lifecycle costs, and tax costs
  • Enhanced decision making and management support

To use the SCEnAT toolkit visit:

The key benefit for organisations is the ability to identify, assess and trace energy usage and carbon emissions at every step in their product’s production process. The businesses that have used SCEnAT have benefited from a reduction in their carbon footprint and supply chain cost savings due to interventions recommended by the model.

Such organisations include;

Abbey Forged Products; the UK’s leading forgemaster in the oil & gas industry. Using SCEnAT, the project team was able to identify the use of a heat recovery system as a demonstrative example of improved environmental performance and the estimated savings.

Recovery Insulation Ltd; a manufacturer of an ‘eco’ thermal/acoustic non-itch insulation made from recycled cotton/denim fibres. SCEnAT was used to compare the environmental impact of conventional rock wool insulation material and the rock wool insulation material.

Energy Management Systems; a manufacturing/energy services company that designs and manufactures the Star Range of energy saving solutions; technologies which help to reduce energy consumption within buildings and save on electricity costs, whilst lowering impact on the environment. SCEnAT was used to identify and quantify their carbon hotspots in the supply chain. The technologies produced saved companies on average 10% of their electricity consumption.

Learn Direct Sheffield; a training provider offering distance learning and online courses in a range of subjects. SCEnAT was used to model the lifecycle emissions for Learndirect to run the operations of their office, expressed in terms of emissions per m2 of floor area.

Professor SC Lenny Koh, BEng (Hons), PhD, FRSA
Director of Centre for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES) Director of Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LSCM) Research Centre

Phone:+44 (0)114 222 3395

Reverse logistics toolkit

Research at the University of Sheffield has led to the development of a Reverse Logistics Toolkit that enables companies in the retail sector, together with members of their supply chain, to improve management of the flow of surplus or unwanted products returned by customers. Companies using the toolkit have seen a reduction in returns of up to 40 per cent, a significant figure given that total UK retail returns have been valued at around £6 billion per annum. The toolkit has enabled companies to reduce costs, improve service provision and reduce transport movements. In collaboration with Cranfield University, Professor John Cullen developed this toolkit with managers from around 40 companies connected to the UK retail sector. Having providing notable results for Halfords plc, the Reverse Logistics Toolkit also features on the Chartered Global Management Accountants (CGMA) website.

The Reverse Logistics Toolkit was published in 2008. It is an electronic diagnostic and performance improvement tool which enables companies to audit their returns management activities and identify, as compared with best practice using a traffic light system, where opportunities exist to reduce costs and waste and improve customer service. A key driver of the toolkit was the need to understand costs and value creation across the supply chain. Consequently, the researchers have incorporated management accounting techniques such as quality costing, opportunity costing, activity based costing, and the balanced scorecard approach into the toolkit to improve both diagnosis and performance management.

Alongside the toolkit, the research outputs have provided a conceptual framework which highlights opportunities for future research in reverse logistics, they have provided a real step forward theoretically by combining the theoretical knowledge of researchers with the practice knowledge of managers engaged in reverse logistics processes and also provided one of the first papers that has systematically and empirically explored supply chain integration in the reverse supply chain processes as opposed to forward supply chain processes.

In terms of user engagement and impact, the 40 managers who contributed to the co-design of the toolkit through the industrial forums and workshops benefitted significantly. They were able to take ideas back to their organisations, share good practices, identify benchmarks, and implement new processes. Industrial partners who supported the development of the reverse logistics toolkit included Avon, Christian Salvesen, Consilium, Dale C Rockell, DHL, Entertainment UK, Fuel Champ, Halfords, LCP Consulting, Linpac, Menzies Distribution, O2, PC World, Stiller Group, Vivendi Universal Games and Wincanton. For example, a supply chain manager at Avon said: “It has been useful to see that other companies face similar challenges, and to share experiences with colleagues working to capture the significant benefits this area offers, with the ‘cradle to grave’ approach across their business practices that it takes.”

At Halfords, one of the organisations involved in the co-design, the impact has been extensive. As a result of making several changes to its reverse logistics processes through the use of avoidance techniques and increased transparency of information, there was a 40 per cent reduction in returns. Also, due to the changes to the reverse logistics processes, non-compliance at store level with agreed returns processes fell from 15 per cent to two per cent. As a consequence of specific interventions aimed at Far-East suppliers, Halfords reduced its direct-sourced returns level from Far-East suppliers by 40 per cent over a two year period resulting in a reduced risk of exposure to the business and significant financial and customer service improvements. The Head of Quality and Cost reduction at Halfords said: “The reverse logistics project had a major influence on the introduction of new reverse logistics processes within Halfords. It helped to increase awareness of the issues and the large potential for improvement to both bottom line performance and customer service through the introduction of improved processes. The identification of new tools and the support provided by discussions at the workshops played a vital part in the implementation of change at Halfords.”

The work has impacted on relationships with all aspects of the supply chain and the new processes impacted on all 460 stores in the UK and also on supply chain partners with around 40 per cent of supplies coming from the Far East.

The toolkit has also been used by other organisations, both manufacturers and retailers, to improve their reverse logistics processes resulting in significant improvements to margins and customer service. Following on from the original project, the researchers are now actively engaged in running a Reverse Logistics Benchmarking Group in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK).

Professor John Cullen, Professor of Management Accounting

Phone:+44 (0)114 222 3429