The UK Government spends over £19 billion on ICT each year, and a significant proportion of this spend goes through public sector frameworks. By using public sector frameworks, private sector organisations can gain access to the market while saving time and money. However, with numerous frameworks available, selecting the right one can be a daunting task. This blog post will explain what public sector frameworks are, their benefits, the most common and popular frameworks, and guidance on how to choose the most suitable framework for your products or services.
What is a framework?
Let’s strip it back a second and take a look at what a framework is. A public sector framework agreement is a selection of pre-qualified suppliers where the buyer selects suppliers and sets out terms and prices for a period in advance. You can read a little bit more about the process and benefits in our ‘What is a government procurement framework?’ here.
Why should I consider frameworks in my strategy?
UK Government Frameworks and Dynamic Purchasing Systems are compliant, fair, and faster routes to market. The ICT spend with UK Gov in 2021 reached over £10 billion. Frameworks help unlock that potential revenue and give access to a market that suppliers may not have been able to reach otherwise.
The streamlined procurement process allows both buyers and suppliers to save time and reduce costs. From the supplier’s perspective, they can submit a single proposal or bid to be considered for multiple contracts, instead of having to go through this process for each individual opportunity.
Using frameworks reduces risk, thanks to the pre-negotiated terms and conditions of any framework. These are in place to ensure the process is as smooth as possible for all parties involved. This can help to build trust between suppliers and public sector organisations, too, due to the greater transparency and accountability involved.
Types of public sector frameworks
Framework providers create new frameworks for almost every industry you can think of. When it comes to selecting a framework, it’s important to understand the different types of products and services that are available. For example, some frameworks may be tailored to specific industries or sectors, while others may be more general in nature.
To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of just some common organisations that run frameworks and the industries they serve. This isn’t an exhaustive list at all, but these are all great places to start looking!
Crown Commercial Service (CCS)
CCS provides procurement and commercial services for the public sector. Some of the most procured through frameworks are CCS frameworks. For example, G-Cloud, which allows public sector organisations to purchase cloud-based services, has been running since 2012! CCS also manages the Digital Outcomes framework. This route is used to procure digital services such as website development, user research, and data analysis.
Government Digital Service (GDS)
GDS frameworks are designed to help public sector organisations transform their digital presence. For example, their Cloud Hosting framework offers access to cloud hosting solutions for governmental departments.
NHS Shared Business Services (SBS)
SBS frameworks can be used by NHS trusts and other public sector organisations for IT services, financial services, and more. One example is their Total Workforce Solutions framework, which provides access to suppliers who can offer staffing solutions for the healthcare sector.
Health Trust Europe (HTE)
HTE is also a provider of frameworks for healthcare organisations. Their frameworks are designed to help organizations in the healthcare sector streamline their procurement processes, reduce costs, and improve patient care.
Transport for London (TfL)
TfL offers transportation-related frameworks for local authorities and government departments. They cover areas such as construction, engineering, and professional services. You’ll likely know of the Crossrail project, aka the Elizabeth Line, which used the NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract framework to manage multiple contracts.
How can I decide which is right for me?
Choosing the right framework to sell your products and services is key to targeting the right public sector bodies. Here are 5 steps we recommend following to find the one that’s right for you.
1. Understand your business needs
Understanding the services you offer and the competitive edge you have with them is the first step to considering which frameworks you can shortlist. Frameworks often are created for particular public sector needs, such as the way G-Cloud is a procurement vessel for cloud technologies – cloud hosting, cloud software, and cloud support.
2. Identify your target market
Before you conduct your framework search, you should also consider whether there are any public sector organisations you would prefer to work with. It may not be so easy as finding out they always use a particular framework, but if you’re wanting to target the healthcare sector you may want to consider frameworks managed by NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) or Health Trust Europe (HTE), for example.
3. Research and shortlist
Research the frameworks that are available and create a shortlist of those that align with your business needs and your targeted organisations. You can find information on framework provider websites, such as Crown Commercial Service, and by attending industry events.
Once you have your shortlist, consider which framework(s) would be the most appropriate for your services and evaluate their potential via the following criteria:
- The framework guidelines and regulations
- Scope of services covered
- The process for submitting proposals and bids
- Terms and conditions
4. Assess your capabilities
On some frameworks, it may be necessary to meet certain requirements. This may include technical expertise, experience in delivering similar projects, and adequate resources to manage the procurement process.
It may be beneficial to keep in mind your competition when assessing your capabilities, too. Consider the level of competition for each framework and whether your business has a competitive advantage over other suppliers. Compare them to see which ones are likely to provide the most business opportunities, i.e. you’re able to compete!
Your capabilities also include the time you have available. Make sure you check the procurement timetable for each framework to understand when opportunities are likely to arise and whether you can meet the deadlines for submitting proposals and bids.
5. Seek advice
If you are unsure about which framework is right for you, consider seeking advice from procurement specialists. We understand that the process of finding and applying to the right frameworks can be daunting. The team at Advice Cloud can help you navigate the complex world of frameworks, providing guidance on which ones are right for you and supporting you through the application and bidding process. So far, our clients have won over £1 billion on just the G-Cloud and DOS frameworks alone. You can learn more about our services here.
So it’s clear that selecting the right public sector framework can be challenging, but understanding the different options available and the benefits they offer can help make the decision-making process easier. By carefully considering your organisation’s needs and priorities, you can choose a framework that aligns with your goals and provides a range of benefits, from cost savings to streamlined procurement processes. So take the time to research and compare your options, and don’t hesitate to seek expert advice to ensure you make the best choice for your organisation.