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Public Sector Frameworks - what are they?

Category: Frameworks

What is a public sector framework agreement?

You may have noticed multi-provider, multi-lot government Framework Agreements when perusing tender portals.  These public sector opportunities become available when a buyer wants to narrow down the number of potential suppliers or secure guaranteed pricing for a specified list of goods, services, products, works or utilities they need, referred to as ‘Lots’.

‘Lots’ are the buckets of work that the invitation to tender (ITT) is divided into, e.g., Lot 1 Mechanical Services, Lot 2 Electrical Services etc. Usually, companies can select which Lots they would like to apply for, which could be one or multiple Lots.

Frameworks remove the need to go out to the marketplace every time the organisation wants to purchase something. Instead, the buyer can issue a contract for the work required based on the terms and pricing agreed as part of the procurement process; this is known as a ‘call-off’, i.e., the client is calling off against the pricing offered as part of the original framework agreement.

The ITT will tell you how many places are available for each Lot on the framework; this should give you a good idea of how likely you are to win a place. However, just like other ITTs, submitting a tender response requires a lot of time and focus as they can be hugely detailed, and incredibly competitive. So, it’s essential to qualify it properly before diving in – ask yourself if you can win it, do you want to win it and can you deliver it?

Making a framework work for you

So, you decided it was for you and pulled out all the stops to submit an outstanding response that got you on the framework. Time to sit back and reap the benefits? We’re afraid not. Getting onto the framework is only the start of it.

Contract notices often state significant revenue values for frameworks, e.g., £400m over three years. However, before you get too excited, remember that this is just an indication of the value of the entire contract and that there is no guarantee of securing even £100 of business just because you’ve made it onto the list of approved suppliers. It’s also worth considering that every contract is open to the number of companies that secured a place on the framework for that Lot, so there will still be an element of competition or negotiation required to win the work.

However, if you can get to know the framework and take advantage of its opportunities, you can undoubtedly win some business. Part of this is being well prepared long before you’ve submitted your proposal, this includes:

  • Understanding the framework – get to know the framework inside out and build a relationship with the framework manager who will control access to contracts.

  • Building your strategy – detail how you will win business from the framework. Understand how much of the overall revenue ‘pie’ is potentially yours and then follow your plan to win that business. As part of this, you need to understand your target audience and focus on where you can win.

  • Adding value – be the specialist authority on your product or service and promote yourself as the go-to company that will help the buyer understand what they need rather than just selling units.

  • Creating a marketing strategy – tell the marketplace that you’re on the framework and how buyers can access your goods and services. Use all available marketing channels to help you do this.

It’s your responsibility to make the framework work for you, and although it is hard work, the effort will pay off if you pick the right one and get your ducks in a row.

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