New Crown Commercial Service Consultancy Framework – What Will Drive Value?

Last week, the Crown Commercial Service (the UK government’s central procurement arm) finally issued the tender documents for the remaining “Lots” that form their management consulting framework.

You may remember the problem that caused a previous iteration to be abandoned – we offered some hypotheses here as to why that might have happened. (We think the theory that some or maybe even all of the “big firms” failing to win a place is probably nearest the truth.)

So now the details of the new competition have been issued. The “vendor neutral” lot that was trailed as a possibility has disappeared, so we have four lots which will provide services for:

Lot 1  - Business Consultancy Services

Lot 2  - Procurement, Supply Chain and Commercial Consultancy Services

Lot 3  - Complex and Transformation Consultancy Services

Lot 4  - Strategic Consultancy Services

Lots one and two aren’t traditional frameworks (limited number of suppliers, strong competition to get a place). They are much more around the “G-Cloud” model of almost open access to suppliers and a catalogue-type approach. They rely on pretty broad tick-box-type questions that obviously you have to answer “correctly”, and then a price marking methodology that means unless you are horrifically expensive, you will get a place. There really is no point putting in your “best” prices here and it’s a marking mechanism that absolutely promotes (illegal) bidder collusion too!

The lots 3 and 4 are aimed at large firms – in fact, the process is designed so only large firms can win a place. These will still be large lots, with up to 30 suppliers, but the marking is based on more traditional essay questions, although some of those are somewhat odd at first sight. One is pretty unintelligible to be honest. But again, price is not terribly important with a weighting of just 20%.

Indeed, while there are some positives in the design, our initial take is that CCS has given up any serious attempt to actually drive value for money here. If value is achieved it will be at “call-off” stage – this is all about trying to create a situation where buyers can basically engage pretty much any consulting firm they want to, as long as it has bothered to go through the process.

We may come back with more on this later, but if you’re interested, there is a good article here from Charlie Middleton who , it is fair to say, is not a fan!  He is perhaps a little too negative about the issue of how you indicate which services and localities you can cover as a bidder – my take on it is you can just say “I do this service line across the whole country”. But many of his points are good ones.

 

Voices (3)

  1. Charlie Middleton:

    CCS has recognised some of their failings on the framework design and have now changed it to take out the regional element – it was strange that they spent six months trying to get this right and they have now done four iterations of the service filters questionnaires.

    They also ran a webinar yesterday to give further guidance to bidders, but started by saying that they would take no questions and so it was just a 27 minute presentation where they gave absolutely no information that wasn’t already in the documents. Laughably they did reiterate that they have a target for 20% of work to go to SMEs despite designing a framework that is just about the least SME friendly they could possibly make it.

  2. Secret Squirrel:

    Oh my days…..that cost evaluation method…..never in my life……

    Assuming that the rates descend from partner to junior consultant, the only rates that ever get evaluated are principal and senior. Also, it assumes you have all of those rates.

    Some niche consultancies would only have principals and above…..

  3. Secret Squirrel:

    This is the core issue of CCS (and GPS and Buying Solutions for that matter). How does it add value to these sort of arrangements? From my experience there, it can’t add significantly. That’s not for the want of trying but what they are doing is establishing an approved supplier list. What value can you add beyond ensuring you’re not ripped off and the supplier is capable of performing generally? Not much, IMO.

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