Crown Commercial Service Technology Products 2 – Looks Good!

The Crown Commercial Service Technology Products 2 framework went live last week. In total, 68 companies have won a place on one or more of the six Lots; Hardware, Software, Combined hardware and software, information assured products, “volume hardware requirements” (direct from OEMs) and “Catalogue” (commoditised products via an electronic platform).

That final Lot is an interesting one, given the intent to move to the “government marketplace” concept and offer more of CCS’s contracts through electronic means. The announcement says that the new catalogue platform to facilitate delivery of this lot is in the final stages of development and testing and  will be launched shortly.

CCS says that improvements include:

  • dynamic direct award catalogue
  • reseller lots for hardware, software and combined solutions
  • simplified terms and conditions for user friendliness
  • direct contracting with manufacturers for aggregated hardware requirements

This looks like a big win for Crown Commercial Services. We’ve never been hesitant to criticise the organisation, but this is a major framework, with an expected value of £2 billion - £4 billion a year, that seems to have been delivered to time, and as far as we know, there are no outstanding legal challenges.  Some reports suggest that a handful of firms have been added since the provisional list was published, but if CCS has managed that tricky process of handling some objections from disappointed suppliers well, then all credit to them for that.

Other positives: the contracts have been developed in conjunction with MoD and two of the local government regional buying consortia – ESPO and YPO. There is more innovation (in terms of past equivalent contracts) as well, such as “capped margins - suppliers’ margins are contractually capped and audited on a monthly basis by CCS which ensures best value”.

54% of the suppliers are SMEs (smaller firms), although as always we will have to wait and see what proportion of the actual spend goes to SMEs, which is what really matters. The other point we should make is that the real benefits and outcomes come when users choose their actual providers from the framework, and perhaps run further competitive processes to drive the value at point of commitment. That, as well as this first (major) stage,  still needs to be done well.

There are customer engagement events coming up to launch the framework in London, Norwich, Wakefield and Leicester over the next month (that’s a bit of an “east of the Pennines” theme, don’t you think)?  There is more about that and about the whole framework here – well done to CCS and the people involved anyway.

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First Voice

  1. Secret Squirrel:

    Going to disagree, Peter. I don’t see many improvements here at all….

    1) A dynamic direct award catalogue – That’s something that they had going back years through Zanzibar and the old Buying Solutions website. And I suspect the new ‘catalogue platform’ will be a rehash of the ‘G-Cloud’ website with no transactional capability
    2) reseller lots for hardware, software and combined solutions – I’d love to see a piece of hardware with no software on it…..And the combined lot is just the creations of something which was always the process in place
    3) The simplified terms only go to 82 pages……really simple…..
    4) Direct contracting with manufacturers for aggregated hardware requirements looks the same as before
    5) The process of collaborating with ESPO, YPO and MOD is just the same as they did last time around

    I’m afraid it looks like more of the same to me.

    That said, getting something of that scale through challenge free is an achievement.

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