Are Frameworks Doing Their Job?

Continuing with some of our favourite guest posts from 2016 . Here, in the second of two posts, Jon Milton, director of temporary labour supply specialist Comensura, looks at what the future holds for public sector frameworks, and considers how framework providers could work more effectively with suppliers.

In part one I considered how frameworks should change in the future to become more practical  for the public sector. Key to the success of a framework is the suppliers that are selected to go on it. But what’s in it for them?

  1. Are frameworks worth the effort for suppliers?

Just as frameworks are proving to be a complex landscape for users, getting on to a framework as a supplier isn’t without its complications either. Frameworks provide suppliers with a tried -and-tested route to an existing customer base and let’s face it, without suppliers there would be no frameworks. So why make it more challenging and difficult than it really needs to be for suppliers to get on frameworks in the first place?

The challenge for most suppliers, especially SMEs, is the time and effort it takes to go through the tender process to get on the framework. Many find the process unnecessarily complicated and steeped in red tape with no guarantee of work at the other end of it – and that’s even if they successfully make it onto the framework.

There are many things a framework could do better for suppliers:

  • Provide guidance on potential return based on market opportunity, the level of interested buyers and their intentions.
  • Place a significant weighting on technical capability, and test that technical capability in the tender. This will help to award suppliers based on best fit, rather than purely price, as can be the case.
  • Provide a forum for chosen suppliers to network with customers.
  • Listen to, rather than ignore suppliers as they are a vital source of market knowledge and can shape a framework to make it more market relevant.

What frameworks shouldn’t do for suppliers:

  • Promise the world and deliver nothing – over time this will mean the supplier pool will diminish as a ‘lack of opportunity’ realism sets in.
  • Impose onerous, and sometimes completely inappropriate terms, and then expect the supplier to accept the terms or risk being excluded.
  • Encourage low price or poor fit tendering.

The time has come for a root and branch review of tendering processes and communication standards that really help suppliers to understand what a framework can do for them. This leads me on to my next question.

  1. Is the selection criteria for getting on to a framework in the interests of the public sector and the economy?

The selection criteria for getting onto a framework can be wide ranging and, for most tender processes, price will be the overriding factor. Price is of course critical but should not be at the cost of all other factors.

As a managed service provider of temporary staff, we have seen tender processes that have been completely based on price. How can this be right for such a complex category if capability and capacity to deliver services aren’t taken into consideration?

Frameworks are without doubt an essential part of the public sector’s procurement toolkit but they need to evolve to become more versatile and fit-for-purpose. My view is that it is the responsibility of the buying organisations to do a lot more to establish frameworks that are fit-for-purpose and meet market needs and work with their suppliers to achieve this.

 

Discuss this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *