Craig joined Opus Telecoms in 2017 having supported Opus as a Marketing Consultant for 8 years before that. Craig spent 16 years at BT in their R&D labs before studying with the Chartered Institute of Marketing and enjoying various marketing roles across the telecoms industry including manufacturing and distribution before owning his own marketing agency and joining to Opus as our Marketing Director.
An SME’s experience of applying for a major Framework
Over Christmas, the Crown Commercial Service gave Suppliers the normal Seasonal present of the opportunity to bid for a place on a major Framework. This year, it was for RM3808, Network Services 2, the replacement for RM1045, Network Services. This framework will provide Public Sector the main procurement route to buy Network based telecom services for the next four years and is worth an estimated £5Bn of revenue.
During the Summer, Innopsis spent time advising CCS of the improvements that Industry would like to see to Network Services 1. We wanted less of a focus on price as the entry point and to increase the breadth and quality of Suppliers rather than just the volume. Of course, we wanted to ensure a level playing field for organisations of all sizes so that SME organisations could compete.
In this podcast, we talk to Craig Walden of Opus Telecoms, an SME and a new potential supplier to the framework, about his experience about applying for a Framework. What was good and what could have been better?
Competing for a Framework
Lynne is the Innopsis Director focused on Podcasts and Design.
From a chemical process research background she has moved into the telecommunications business. Her day job is working for the Daisy Group.
Outside work will find Lynne tending for her horses and dogs in the Home Counties.
About the Episode
The Government’s stated aim is to encourage Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) to supply Government. The target is for £1 in every £3 to be spent with an SME by 2022. To achieve this target means that more SME suppliers need to be included in the procurement routes that the public sector use. To help achieve this, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), the body that provides the main procurement route into government, has increasingly made it easier for small organisations to win a place on its Frameworks.
The Frameworks are a group of procurement vehicles that CCS have put together to make it easier for the Public Sector to buy services. Each Framework will be defined for a group of products or services with a common set of terms and conditions agreed. Each Framework may be separated into Lots, or sub Groups, each with a selection of Suppliers who are deemed to be suitable organisations to supply government and can provide good value for money.
To gain a place on the Framework, a process similar to a Tender is undertaken. CCS invite Suppliers to bid for a place. The process takes about six weeks, or more if over a holiday period. Suppliers are asked about their fiscal status, if the company or directors have any convictions or are guilty of a malpractice. If these are satisfactory, then questions are asked about the services each organisation can offer, how they deliver the services, what standards they adhere to and other questions that a buyer would want to know. Lastly, there is an element of price competition.
At the start of the Framework application, the scoring is laid out. Each Supplier will know what weighting is applied to each answer and guidance is provided to enable each supplier to respond accordingly. At the start of the procurement, supplier can ask written questions for clarification purposes via a dedicated on-line portal. The answers and questions asked are provided to all competing suppliers.
Each procurement has a submission date for the entries and then the assessments are done. This is normally carried out by a group of procurement and subject matter experts from around the public sector. Each answer is scored by the team and the top scoring suppliers are selected for each Lot in the volume set out in the initial framework notice.
Following the scoring, the successful suppliers are notified of the intention to award a place on each or multiple lots. There then follows a 10-day cooling off period after which, contracts for the Framework are offered for signature. When the contracts are completed, the Framework is open for business.
Some Frameworks, like the G-Cloud series, have a very low threshold for entry. Hundreds and thousands of suppliers can achieve a place. Whilst this can be a good thing, it means that the average revenue earnt per supplier is very low. Most of the revenue is recorded against a small number of suppliers. As a procurement tool, there is too much available to the procurement professional. Being able to down-select to a handful of suppliers is a challenge.
Network Services 2 is allowing for a smaller number of Suppliers; approximately 10 to 40 suppliers. depending on the lot. Therefore, the contest for a place is greater and the entry threshold is higher. It is also more prized as the likely revenue that each Supplier will earn from the framework is increased. Network Services 2 has a projected contract value of £5Bn.
Against this backdrop, Innopsis are keen to find out ‘Was it good for you?’