Technology Products 3 Supplier Briefing
Here's Ella with the latest info from the recent Technology Products 3 supplier briefing.
The OJEU for TP3 will be published in March 2019, we heard at today’s briefing with CCS. Although this is a longer wait than expected for Suppliers, there is good reason. CCS have had a great deal of engagement and lots of suggestions from Suppliers and Buyers. Wanting to improve the framework and not just re-iterate, this means the design stage will take longer.
The day started with a quick introduction to the new Public Sector Contract, which has begun to replace the T&Cs of frameworks – as seen with DAS already. It will eventually be rolled out across all agreements, with G-Cloud as the possible exception, so its worth having a read of it!
We then split into 3 different workshops, to discuss:
- Scope and Structure
- The Bid Pack
I joined the bid pack group, and it soon became clear that the application process for TP2 had left Suppliers feeling frustrated. “Ambiguity” was the word of the day, as Suppliers shared their challenge of trying to understand what the questions were really asking.
It looks like the Selection Stage will mostly stay the same, with contract examples being requested to demonstrate past performance. Though it was mentioned that it’d be preferable for referees to only be contacted at the end of the process rather than upfront – I.e., once you’ve passed/scored enough points on all the other sections.
There will be 4 quality questions (per Lot) in the Award stage, 2 of which have been defined already.
Number 1 will be about partnerships, as it was with TP2, and Suppliers must meet the minimum requirements set in terms of the vendors they have partnerships with – how this is evaluated is still being discussed, with talks over scoring based on quality instead of quantity.
Number 2 will be about social value. Suppliers must provide assurance that they have an ethical supply chain that meets public law. This will cover 3 topics: environmental sustainability, labour rights, and accessibility. A useful pointer to bear in mind here, is that CSS “don’t need to know WHO you buy from, only WHAT you’re buying and WHERE it comes from.”
In terms of the other 2 quality questions, CCS are still open to suggestions. What can we measure and evaluate to separate a “good” company from a “bad” company? It was suggested that a Supplier’s ability to commit resources, and provide advice and guidance to a Buyer would make them more attractive than a VAR with less of the V – but how to demonstrate that ability? Not to mention, a problem pinpointed with the TP2 catalogue (Lot 6) is that you lose much of that Supplier-Buyer relationship.
Suppliers in the room had the same thoughts:
- The bid pack needs clear and concise messaging to avoid any misunderstanding
- Opportunities could be templated before the tender stage, to make them easier to understand
- A communication portal is needed so Suppliers can ask questions about opportunities
And the Buyers in attendance also gave their opinions:
- A search box, filtered by Supplier or product, maybe even enhanced by an AI model, would make it easier to find what is needed
- Real-time stock levels are needed, to avoid wasted time pursuing an out-of-stock item
- The ability to toggle the basket to show either the lowest priced product or the lowest priced basket
Lastly, it was quite firmly agreed that Lot 5 simply isn’t working.
All in all, it seems as though CCS are very much open to making some quite substantial improvements to the framework, particularly when it comes to better digitising the process. And there are some good ideas coming out of these sessions. It’s clear that both Suppliers and Buyers like the purpose of the framework, but just want it to be more streamlined when either selling or buying through it.
Good luck to CCS – we look forward to seeing the results in due course!