There are many different types of contracts within the public sector. Most contracts are single supplier and therefore the procurement process will exclude all but one. However, many framework agreements exist for buyers to work with a range of suppliers.
Framework agreements make it easier for a contracting authority to make longer-term arrangements with more than one supplier, and in some cases with suppliers covering a range of industries. Within public procurement it is common for a buyer to require a range of services; a good example of a framework agreement would be a local authority looking to procure ongoing construction services, and splitting a framework into lots such as roofing, scaffolding, general building etc., to build up an agreement with specialised companies without continually going out to the market. In theory, this should also benefit further supply chains, over a guaranteed period of time.
What is a framework agreement?
A framework agreement establishes terms of separate contract group for one or many services can be fulfilled by one or many suppliers.
The most common use of a framework agreement is when there is no set schedule or scope for particular services. Unlike regular bids or tenders, once a company secures a place on an agreement, there is likely to be no guarantee of work, with the procurement documents and set terms and conditions outlining this.
Although this can deter many companies, it is important, however, to consider the scope of the agreement and number of contractors who secure a place. Due to the larger number of suppliers, framework agreements offer a higher chance of success for businesses that choose to tender, and can be great for forming long term relationships. As mentioned above, although it is likely a framework agreement is split by sector or specific work (commonly seen in the construction industry), many national framework agreements are split into geographical regions, and can be a key source of ongoing work for businesses and establishing dynamic purchasing system.
In many cases a framework agreement is a way in which the contracting authority can create one blanket document for their suppliers. This means that there is no need to tender more than once. The benefit of this for companies is that once you have a place on the agreement you have access to a large amount of potential work, with the set quantity envisaged. However, it is common for a buyer to “call off” packages of work via call off contracts, mini competitions or even a further tender process if required, which will be outlined in the award criteria.
The tendering process
The tendering process for framework agreements follows the same procedure as the regular UK procurement model for all public sector procurement.
Procurement rules dictate that the contract notice is posted on both Find a Tender and Contracts Finder where any interested supplier can view all information, and express an interest in the contract. Following this will be the release of the pre-qualification questionnaire. Should a company be successful at this stage it will be invited to tender (ITT). The contracting authority will then notify successful companies of their place on the agreement. Often the PQQ and ITT will be together, in a single stage process for awarding both framework agreements and sole supplier contracts.
Beating the competition
The important thing to note when competing for a place on a framework is that levels of competition will be much higher. This is simply due to the size of contracts and the higher number of places.
Although your company has a technically higher chance of success due to there being more than one approved supplier, competition can make success incredibly difficult and you should focus on the award criteria, analysing the procurement documents carefully before you start bidding.
Both the PQQ and ITT must be of the best quality. You should follow all rules of bid writing best practice and back up all your points with evidence and added value.
Those that do best on frameworks are those who constantly find new ways to add value to the required service. These companies will in turn stand the best chance of securing contracts when they get called off.
For more information on framework agreements, contact us on 0800 612 5563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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