The framework route to fast, effective and efficient procurement
With local authority budgets and headcount under constant scrutiny there is huge pressure to get procurement decisions right. This doesn’t necessarily mean finding the most cost-effective deal but rather investing in solutions or services that will stand the test of time and deliver value back over a sustained period.
For many authorities, finding the time and personnel to draw up a tender process and oversee the decision-making is nigh on impossible. Available staff are understandably focused on essential front-line tasks. Additionally, the necessary expertise to make an informed decision may not even reside in-house.
For this reason, a growing number of authorities are turning to framework agreements – platforms for buying which help to expedite the decision-making process and provide authorities with a guarantee of quality. Frameworks for a broad variety of solutions and services have been established by Government bodies at a national level, designed to provide buyers with a list of recommended suppliers for key tasks.
Frameworks benefit suppliers and buyers alike. For suppliers, being awarded a place on a framework affords greater visibility of buyers and access to decision-makers that they may not otherwise have had the opportunity to talk to and work with. From the buyers’ perspective, they can be certain that any company providing services and solutions through a framework has been rigorously vetted and can therefore approach the buying decision with confidence.
Typically, a handful of suppliers compete for custom within any framework. It is up to the buyer whether they want to simply choose one supplier and directly award a contract, or organise a mini competitive tender involving some or all of the framework suppliers. Either way, the decision-making process for buyers is far quicker. Whereas previous typical tender processes could take anything up to 9 months, using a framework to select a supplier reduces the procurement process down to between 4-6 weeks.
We were recently awarded onto the National Procurement Service Postal & Courier Services & Mailroom Equipment Framework for provision of hybrid mail services throughout Wales. Additionally, in 2014, Critiqom was awarded a place on the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) postal goods and services framework (RM1063) – again for hybrid mail services. We have first-hand experience of the benefits of inclusion on a framework, with the company winning hybrid mail work from many clients since the CCS award.
Sourcing hybrid mail services through a framework makes perfect sense. Authorities have identified the fact that processing ad-hoc office and internal mail on desktop printers, using standard postal services, is costing them a huge sum every year. Outsourcing this process is a an obvious efficiency move, but authorities want to be certain that they select a supplier that is not only cost-effective but that also has a proven track record of quality. The framework provides that assurance.
Today, these authorities are directing this postal mail via a portal from their desktop to our purpose-built production mail facilities where we print it and post it, delivering economies of scale which result in savings for the client.
Ultimately, frameworks exist to make the procurement process quicker and more reliable for public sector authorities. Decisions can be taken in the knowledge that providers have already been thoroughly tested. For the authority, this means a quicker buying cycle, quicker integration, and quicker generation of savings.
1st published in IRRV Insight Magazine September 2016