Public sector procurement of IT services and products has undergone something of a makeover in recent years. When once we ran slow, onerous, cumbersome and expensive processes, today things are altogether swifter and smarter thanks to the advent of the more agile and dynamic purchasing frameworks.
Purchasing frameworks have two very strong and compelling strings to their bow. First, buyers can use them to access an immediate ‘longlist’ of approved suppliers – suppliers that have been already vetted for quality and stability as a condition of their place on the framework. So buyers no longer have to do their own research, their own due diligence; they merely have to build a shortlist from accredited vendors that offer the service or product they’re after.
Secondly, all the contractual legalities, terms and pricing around each service/product have also already been done for buyers by the purchasing authorities. So no protracted to and fro between lawyers, suppliers and customers, rather the opportunity to move and deploy the solution quickly.
Taken together and you can see the upside very clearly – a massively contracted procurement cycle, minimal legal wrangling and expenditure, price certainty, quality assurance, all adding up to a highly cost-effective, low risk alternative to traditional methods.
The Buying Revolution – Nearly
So what’s the problem? You’d think given the upside that the public sector would already have switched to frameworks as their default. And there are signs that in places it has – central government for example. But the ambition was for it to revolutionise things for those who perhaps didn’t have the procurement specialists, or the money for lawyers, or the time to waste or the luxury of making a poor supplier call – those in austerity-afflicted local government, or under pressure blue light services, or best value driven housing associations or charities. And the fact is that we simply haven’t seen the take up of frameworks by those outside of central government that I think everyone was anticipating.
There aren’t any catches – frameworks still accommodate direct award or mini-competitions – they just accelerate, simplify and underpin the making of good choices. Redcentric has worked hard to satisfy the purchasing authorities on a number of frameworks – we feature currently on G-Cloud, NOE CPC, JISC, HSCN Access Services, Procurement for Housing and the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework, but we also need to share responsibility for continuing to get the word out, and championing a new mindset: what was once a marathon can now be a sprint.
For more information, contact the team on 0800 983 2522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.