CCS Management Consultancy Framework – New Lots Announced

Yesterday, Crown Commercial Service announced the result of the tenders for the Lots that form the Management Consultancy Framework Two (MCF2). You may remember some of the previous issues, around this process but CCS seems to have got there in the end. You can see the lists here.

There are four new Lots, and CCS are keen to emphasise the success of SMEs (smaller firms), on three of the four Lots anyway.

  General business consultancy (Lot 1) Procurement / Supply Chain / Commercial (2) Complex / Transformational (3) Strategic Advice (4)
Number of suppliers 282 91 32 31
Number of SMEs 211 52 2 10


We know from our own experience, working on both buy side and assisting sell-side firms, that smaller businesses often just aren’t very good at bidding in the formal public sector environment – we suspect CCS would have liked more SMEs on Lot 3, but you can only evaluate what is in front of you.

Lot 1 and Lot 2 to some extent were very much based on the G-Cloud model where really, as long as you filled in the forms and met the pretty basic threshold conditions, you are in. We understand that only a “handful” of bidders failed on Lot 1, and the number of SMEs certainly suggests that the threshold was not too much of a barrier for 211 firms anyway!

All the major firms that you would expect to be on Lots 3 and 4 are present. Rumours persist that this was the reason the previous iteration of the procurement was terminated – too many of those firms didn’t make it. Like it or not, politicians as well as the top civil servants do want to have the choice to use McKinsey, PWC and so on, so CCS probably has to reflect that.

Another criticism with the process design was that having so many firms on Lot 1 would mean that in reality, users would just make direct awards without competition. However, having  met the CCS team behind this framework, we do believe they have a genuine desire to see real competition take place at the call-off stage, when users actually choose which firms to use. That applies whether we are talking about cases where the Minister wants his or her particular favourites; or a more junior executive wants the simplicity of going back to their regular small firm for a £20K assignment.

So effort is going into both directly advising users on how to drive that competition, and on tech to support it. By the end of the year, CCS plans to have a technology platform – the latest element of the “Crown Marketplace” – available to help users run an “expression of interest” process that will select a short list of potential providers from the longer list.

That tool will take the information collected in the bidding process, so if you say “I need a change management firm with experience in social care and preferably based in the north-west”, it will identify which of the 282 firms fit that bill. You then still have to run the “competitive” element of the process, but including just those pre-selected firms.

That sounds good, and similar technology will assist in the FM, Legal Services and Supply Teachers frameworks too. What is somewhat surprising is that the provider for this platform has not been selected yet although an announcement is expected next week. But we hear that considerable development work has been done internally already – however, that timetable seems quite tight to us. But it sounds like a good idea in concept at least – we will watch the progress of that initiative with interest.

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Voices (4)

  1. P Black:

    52 procurement consultancy firms. That’s a joke surely! Who on earth are all these 1 man bands claiming to be a consultancy firm. I could count the number of true procurement consultancy firms on 1 hand.

    1. Little Acorn:

      A very offensive comment regarding the SMEs admitted to the Lot 2 some may well be micro businesses. Focusing on lot 2 would imply that you don’t have an issue with the SMEs in the other lots

      1. James Kelly:

        Looks like everyone that bid got on the list.

        Why do you need this many procurement consultancy firms at all, irrelevant if they are SME or not.

        “Very offensive” – rubbish. It’s a fact!

        1. Secret Squirrel:

          You don’t from a buyer perspective. But what you need to do if you are CCS is comply with SME policy.

          I did some analysis on ConsultancyONE and the use of the procurement lot. Essentially, it wasn’t used then. I suspect it won’t be now. Nearly everything then was defined as ‘multi-disciplinary’. I suspect it will be the same now,

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