What are framework agreements?
Frameworks are “umbrella agreements” that sets out the terms – particularly relating to price, quality and quantity – under which individual contracts (call-offs) can be awarded throughout the period of the agreement (normally a maximum of 4 years). They are typically used when the buyer(s) identify a need for specific products or services but are unsure of the scope or time-frame.
Continue reading “Framework Agreements: What You Need to Know”
It’s Valentine’s Day. That time of year when people pay attention to the special connections they have in life and take a bit of time to celebrate them. Or maybe you are still looking for some special connections? Still searching for that one relationship with long term potential, stability and plenty of money…
Of course, here we’re talking about your business connections – specifically your connections with public sector buyers and tendering. With contract life spans of three years plus, 30 day payment terms and a high chance of you retaining a contract once you’ve won it once – what’s not to love? Continue reading “The tender matchmaker…”
The Public Sector is providing more and more contracts for Construction sector suppliers. Although times were tough for the industry following the recession, things have rebounded and opportunities have never looked better for suppliers and contractors working with the Public Sector. The future looks brighter still with this sector having a projected average growth of 2.6% from 2015-18.
Certain sub-sectors of construction have had significant increases over the past year. A 12% increase in road related tenders, 8% increase in new build tenders, 25% increase in architecture/design team tenders and the biggest increase is in the renewable energy sector (areas like solar power, wind power and geothermal) of around 35%.
With the High Speed 2 project, floods defence work, major road schemes across the UK, along with affordable housing and other projects it’s no surprise that things have rebounded in this sector.
Millstream has created an infographic on this to highlight the key facts and you can view this here: Construction Infographic
More than 4,000 private sector companies use Tenders Direct to find new business opportunities, of those over 950 are construction businesses, accounting for around 22% of the customer base. Tenders Direct work with thousands of public sector organisations in the UK, Ireland and Norway to publicise their contracts, allowing direct access to contracts that many are unaware of. The dedicated research team solely identify contracts and include them within the Tenders Direct database – many of these are smaller contracts that would not be published by the Official Journal (OJEU) or on any other central resource.
The Tenders Direct team, also manually categorise all tenders to ensure that only highly relevant opportunities are provided and therefore personalised to individual preferences and areas of specialism and are sent to subscribers every day.
To find out how Millstream can help you find opportunities in public sector construction, call 0800 270 0249 or visit www.millstream.eu
In our blog about election manifestos one thing that was clear is that all the main parties feel that involvement of SMEs in procurement is the key to economic growth. The current Government set a target of 25% of all Central Governments spend to be with SMEs when it came to power in 2010 and it met this target in the 2013-2014 financial year. Framework agreements represent around 45% of procurements in the UK and compared to other EU nations the UK uses this type the most. The purpose of this blog is to explain how important framework agreements can be for SMEs.
Continue reading “Why are framework agreements important to SMEs?”
Despite the three election debates, none of us are any the wiser precisely how the next Government will cut expenditure in order to pay off the financial deficit. We know that change is (hopefully) coming that will reduce the size of ‘Big Government’ and while change often brings threats, it also brings opportunities.
UK Party Leaders
Continue reading “Public contracts after the General Election”
Recommendations first outlined in the Glover Report to help small businesses identify contract opportunities are now coming to fruition.
The Glover Report – Accelerating the SME Economic Engine states…
“Tendering opportunities thought especially suitable for SMEs or consortia of SMEs should be flagged by the procurer during the advertising process.”
Although this idea has been around for a while, the OGC have recently published a paper entitled Small supplier big opportunity, Flagging your contracts to SMEs which follows on from the Glover Report’s recommendations and outlines the procedure to be adopted by purchasers in highlighting suitable opportunities for SMEs.
Continue reading “Flying the Flag for Small Businesses”
PQQs (Pre-Qualification Questionnaires) are issued by awarding authorities, as part of a restricted procedure, in order to short-list suitable suppliers before inviting them to tender. Suppliers are assessed according to pre-set criteria based around financial position, ability to deliver, quality standards, and the company’s policies on health and safety, sustainability and equal opportunities.
Continue reading “How to score with PQQs”
With its wildly different culture, risk adversity, rigid processes and sometimes outright incompetence, is it any wonder that so many suppliers are put off working with the public sector? Probably not.
So, you should just forget it right? Getting into the public sector market will involve hard work and perseverance. You will have to spend a bit of time understanding the public sector procurement processes and pick up some new skills. You will more than likely face frustrations along the way, you might even have to change some of your preconceptions about this elusive market. Sometimes it’ll seem like it’s just not worth the hassle so you don’t bother pursuing it.
But could it be worth a second look? Is it worth getting your company geared up to do business with the public sector? If you supply a product or service that the public sector demands then here are a few things to inform your decision:
– The UK public procurement market is worth over £175 billion a year;
– Public sector organisations are not going to go out of business any time soon, this means a level of security and certainty that you won’t get with a lot of private sector organisations;
– Public sector clients tend to make prompt payments;
– There’s a high chance of repeat contracts;
– Processes are (largely) open, transparent and fair.
Now, if you’ve had a negative experience with a public sector buying organisation, you might well disagree with this last point. However, the first thing you need to remember is that no two public sector purchasers are the same. This can be a difficult thing to get a handle on to start with. On opposite sides of the spectrum you could have one organisation keen on innovation, communication and strategic partnerships and another still firmly operating in the master and servant mindset. It is up to you to do some digging, find out what’s what, then decide which organisations you want to work with. Tricky, but worth it perhaps?
Francis Maude - Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester yesterday, Francis Maude, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the party would publish online, every item of government expenditure over £25,000 and all government tender documents for contracts worth over £10,000.
The Shadow Minister said that he thought that this would allow ‘an army of armchair auditors’ to crawl all over the governments accounts and not only help them to spend money better, but it would also help to rebuild trust.
This isn’t the first time that politicians have promised to make government procurement more transparent:
- In 2003 the Better Regulation Task Force published ‘Government Supporter and Customer?’ Recomendation No. 1 was that the government should advertise ‘lower value contracts from across central government and include information on future contract opportunities.’ This set the scene for the Supply2.gov website, which due to a woeful lack of support from the Department of Business failed to reach its true potential and is due to be replaced by a new website implementing the Glover recommendations (see below).
- In 2005 the Office of Government Commerce and the Small Business Service published ‘Smaller supplier…..better value?‘ which pointed out the challenges facing SME’s and how the government could help by publishing their future contracts online.
- Also in 2005 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (when John Prescott was still a force to be reckoned with) published the ‘Small Business Friendly Concordat: Good Practice Guidance’ which yet again urged public sector organisations to use their websites to publish ‘details of forthcoming bidding opportunities.’
- In 2006 the then Scottish Executive published a ‘Review of Public Procurement in Scotland’ authored by John McClelland, which recommended that ‘a single public sector “electronic portal” should be established. Suppliers must be able to access all essential information on opportunities to offer services and bid for contracts for the supply of commodities and services to the whole Public Sector in Scotland.’ This report resulted in the establishment of the rather effective Public Contracts Scotland website in 2008, which is run by the (some say, brilliant) team behind Tenders Direct.
- Most recently in November 2008, the Glover report or ‘Accelerating the SME economic engine: through transparent, simple and strategic procurement,’ as it was more formally known, yet again, you guessed it, recommended that:
- ‘By 2010, contract opportunities above £20,000 across the whole public sector should be advertised electronically with standard indicative contract value ranges, and accessible through a single, free, easy to search online portal.’
So at numerous times over the last six years, various politicians, government departments, quango’s and notable report authors have called for more transparency in the publication of government contracts.
The main barrier to progress has definitely been the lack of a clear lead by central government, either to publish its own contracts, or to establish an infrastructure and clear guidelines or regulations to ensure that other public bodies publish their contracts. The secondary barrier has been an unwillingness by staff in local authorities, NHS trusts, etc., to publish their contracts. This unwilling attitude stems from a variety of reasons such as a fear that they will be inundated with suppliers, that they want to keep contracts for local suppliers, that they ‘know’ who the best suppliers are anyway. Provided the procurement activity is approached professionally these fears are either groundless, well intentioned, but illegal and ineffective, or simply wrong. All of them get in the way of efficient procurement, or as the Right Honorable Member for Horsham put it yesterday we need to ‘spend money better.’
The Department for Business and the Office of Government Commerce have been making some progress towards implementing the recommendations contained in the Glover Report. Unfortunately progress appears to have slowed as the General Election looms closer. At least it seems that the Tories have a similar, if not even greater, enthusiasm to open up public procurement, so that regardless of who wins power next year we should have a new era of open access to government contracts.
Selecting the right contracts to go for is critical to the growth of your business. So often we waste a huge amount of time responding to tenders we are destined never to win. It can be due to a lack of resources, limited experience or it simply just doesn’t fit with your core business.
Here’s a quick and effective checklist for deciding whether you should go for a contract or not.
Rank your response from 1 to 5, with 1 as the most negative and 5 as the most positive answer. If the total score is below 20, you should seriously consider whether it is worth proceeding to Step 2.
1. Were we aware of the opportunity before it was advertised?
2. Do we know the decision-maker(s)?
3. Do we have a significant technical or other competitive advantage?
4. Have we done an effective job of pre-selling for this project?
5. Do we have a champion in-house who is motivated to win?
6. Have we allowed enough time for preparing the proposal?
Answer yes or no to the following Qualitative Factors:
1. Will our price be competitive?
2. Does the opportunity match our target market area and services?
3. Does the project present us with an unusual opportunity to break into a new market?
4. Will the submittal effort be proportional with the expected fee?
5. Is the project consistent with our minimum/maximum project size objectives?
6. Can we make a profit doing this project?
7. If we cannot make a profit, are there any prevailing reasons to want the project?
8. Do we have qualified staff available to perform the work?
9. Do we have the staff and time available to prepare a quality proposal?
10. Do we have the track record/experience for the project?
If you have answered ‘no’ to more than two of these questions, you should seriously consider whether this is the right contract for you.