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 timeframe.
Do they need to be advertised in the OJEU?
In line with public procurement legislation. if a framework agreement is publicly funded and the estimated total value of all the potential call-offs exceeds the relevant EU procurement threshold then it should be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
Who can use them?
Any organisation subject to EU public procurement regulations can publish a framework agreement. Many are published either on behalf of multiple buyers or left open for use by some or all public sector organisations.
How do I secure a place on one?
- Notices announcing framework agreements are published in the same manner as standard invitations to tender
- Suppliers wishing to participate must register interest using the details provided on the notice and will be awarded a place subject to their ability to satisfy selection criteria
- Only those suppliers who respond to the original notice and are selected will be eligible to participate in any call-offs made under the framework
How are call-offs awarded?
If the framework agreement is awarded to only one supplier, the buyer can simply call-off a requirement from them as and when they wish. If the framework is awarded to several suppliers, there are two ways in which call-offs can be conducted:
- If the terms laid out in the framework agreement are detailed enough for the buyer to identify the best supplier for a particular requirement, they can directly award a contract
- If the buyer is unable to identify which supplier could offer them best value for money for a particular requirement, a mini-competition can be held between all the approved suppliers
What are the advantages?
- Possibility of being awarded multiple contracts
- Reduction in administrative burden due to streamlined procedure
- Chance to build lasting working relationships with multiple buyers
- Less downtime between identifying a need and fulfilling it
- Reduction in administrative costs with removal of OJEU process for every requirement
- Potential savings with economies of scale – suppliers may offer more competitive prices
What are the disadvantages?
- No guarantee of business even if you’re selected as an approved supplier
- Suppliers unsuccessful at the selection stage are locked out of any call-offs for the duration of the agreement
- Frameworks are unresponsive to change. There may be new suppliers and/or new solutions within the market that were not included when the agreement was initially set up
- They apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which may make it difficult for buyers to satisfy their own procurement objectives
If you found this blog helpful but want to know more, you can join our free webinar on Thursday 30th August 1pm – 2pm which covers Framework Agreements and Dynamic Purchasing Systems. You can also view a recording of the previous session.
Questions? Feel free to leave a comment, call us on 0800 222 9009, or visit www.tendersdirect.co.uk
In our last blog we outlined the challenge faced by suppliers when attempting to find suitable public sector contracts. Missing out on just one opportunity – particularly a framework agreement which can encompass many invitations to tender – is a nightmare scenario for any company. In this post we focus on how Tenders Direct prevents lucrative public work from passing our customers by.
Continue reading “A Closer Look: The Fix”
A little heads up can go a long way in the world of public sector tendering. Suppliers usually rely on Prior Information Notices (PINs) to give them a heads up that a contract was soon to be out there to bid on.
PINs are a great way to prepare for a bid response, but the time a supplier has to prepare their bid off the back of a PIN can vary: some PINs can be live for as little as a month before the contract notice comes out.
The longer the supplier has, the better position they are in to make a successful bid. That’s why Tenders Direct has launched Advance Tender Alerts.
Advance Tender Alerts provide suppliers with notifications of tenders, related to their business, up to six months before they expire – covering both above and below threshold opportunities.
Continue reading “Tender Forecasting”
A few months ago my colleague Cindy published a blog on the Pet Hates of Buyers which went through some of the main issues that buyers have had when dealing with suppliers. This blog will consider the other side of the coin and cover some of the pet hates that suppliers have when bidding for tenders.
Through my experience working in the Tenders Direct support team I have put together this blog from feedback that we have received from our customers and other external companies that are involved in public sector tendering.
The issues can be broken down into two main areas. Firstly all issues relating to the tendering process (planning, identifying the needs, market analysis and tendering) and secondly all issues that relate to the post tender activities (contract management, supplier relationship management and the actual performance of the contract). Continue reading “Pet Hates of Suppliers (What not to do if you are a buyer)”
With £714 billion being spent on the public sector in the UK in 2014 you may feel that there is plenty of business to go around. However, if you are considering broadening your options or want to look further afield you could consider bidding for tenders across the European Union.
The European Union was created on the basis of it being a single market which includes the free movement of goods, capital, people and services across all member states. In practice this means that a UK company should have an equal chance of winning a tender in a different EU member state as the local companies and there should be no barrier to intra-EU trade. We often hear of dissatisfaction that local contracts in the UK have been awarded to non-local suppliers and so this could be considered the other side of that coin.
While it may seem like it is easy to go for these types of opportunities there are certain things that need to be considered before taking the leap! All the points made by my colleague Gemma on this blog: How SMEs can break into the public sector will apply but there will be other aspects that will need to be considered as well.
Continue reading “Tendering across Europe – How to step out of the UK”
The most common question that we get from Tenders Direct customers is: ‘What rights do we have once we put in a bid?’
The answer to that is dependent on what stage of the process the supplier is at and the rights for both stages are listed below:
For the PQQ
Questions should only be asked of your company and not your potential solution (It should be about selection of suppliers and not an evaluation of your product).
Buyers have a legal requirement to notify candidates eliminated at the PQQ stage “as soon as reasonably practicable”.
Continue reading “Your Rights as a Supplier”
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?”
Following on from our recent blog regarding the changes to the PQQ stage in the new 2015 Procurement Regulations we are going to look at what has changed at the ITT stage and what suppliers need to be aware of when tendering to the public sector.
The most important changes to the ITT stage for suppliers are:
1) There is now greater clarity regarding the rules on social and environmental aspects being taken into account in tenders meaning that:
- social aspects can now also be taken into account in certain circumstances (in addition to environmental aspects which have previously been allowed);
- contracting authorities can require certification/labels or other equivalent evidence of social/environmental characteristics, further facilitating procurement of contracts with social/environmental objectives;
- contracting authorities can refer to factors directly linked to the production process.
The caveat to this is that any factors taken into account must be reasonably achievable for all suppliers so as not to favour larger companies or specific methodologies. We would encourage suppliers to keep a check on your key buyers to see what policies they have in these areas and how they are likely to implement these new rules. For example do they have a big drive on apprenticeships or carbon emissions you could support them on? In general it would be a good idea to start gathering data, case studies and evidence of your company’s positive social and environmental impacts to use in your responses going forward as the level of detail asked for in these questions is only going to increase.
2) Full life-cycle costing can be taken into account when awarding contracts; this could encourage more sustainable and/or better value procurement which will hopefully save money for tax payers in the long term. Continue reading “2015 Procurement Regulations – Changes to the ITT stage – What Suppliers Need to Know.”
I recently attended our latest training courses on completing PQQs and Bid Writing. One of the messages I picked up was that the public sectors’ evaluation of suppliers is a lot like a risk assessment exercise. Public sector authorities have to be scrupulous when spending tax-payers’ money. They have to balance various priorities, including quality, budget, delivery, timescales, policies on equality, sustainability, supporting SMES and local businesses, and abiding by the relevant regulations, while also avoiding the risk of anything going wrong during the course of the contract.
So, as a supplier going through the tendering process, your task is not only to demonstrate to the purchasing authority that you can provide the requirement (and more if possible), but also that you can mitigate any risks that might be involved.
Continue reading “Avoiding Risky Business”
If you’re looking for new markets and have stumbled upon the public sector option – do not be misled into thinking it will be exactly the same as selling to a private sector client.
The private sector purchaser can largely suit themselves when it comes to what they buy, who they buy from and how much they pay. But the public sector purchaser has a lot of different factors to take into consideration, not least that they are spending public money and have to comply with set processes and legislation.
Continue reading “How well do you know your buyer?”