Consulting » Procurement » Are Tender Frameworks the way to go?

So, you’re reviewing your finance system and decided it’s time you hear from new suppliers. But what procurement route do you plan on taking?

It’s understandable if you might be leaning towards the framework route. It’s the safe option. You’re a finance professional, not a procurement expert. And with the documentation all created for you it will surely save countless hours.

But, by using an off the shelf tender document, how can you ensure the true needs of you, your team and your organisation are met? After all you’re the finance expert – no one knows them better. Frameworks once had their place, but with technology and software having evolved so much over the last 15 years, has this procurement format been able to keep up?

1. Are you considering the right suppliers?

By opting for a framework you’re instantly excluding half of the suppliers before you’ve even spoken with them. So what does that leave you with? Using many frameworks, you’ll be left with just a handful of suppliers and a re-seller or two – hardly a competitive market place.
And those that are involved are paying for the privilege, the cost of which almost certainly won’t be coming from their bottom line.

2. Are you asking the right questions?

In a typical framework tender questionnaire around 93% of the questions revolve around simple software functionality. You can guarantee the most basic of systems will provide the ability to do Purchase Orders, and if they all DO the same, they’ll all score the same.

You need to think about wider business goals. Where is your organisation heading and what will you need from your software to best support you?

Think about things like:

Ask more about the supplier themselves too. If you’re planning on embarking on a long relationship with this company make sure they’re also in it for the long haul. Are they investing in future technology and more importantly will they even still be around?

Plus another issue with extensive functionality questions… there’s a lot of them! A typical framework tender often contains over 4000 questions, needing countless hours to complete. You may think that’s the suppliers problem, but no doubt a supplier will look to recoup the cost of this time should they win the contract.

3. Are you really covered?

The regulations around utilising these frameworks are complex and far from transparent. Far too often organisations use this route, only to find when things go wrong that they were never covered by the framework’s agreement in the first place.

According to one framework’s terms and conditions:
• “A framework is only applicable to the parties identified in the original contract notice”
• “A framework is closed from adding additional parties between its formation and termination dates”

So if you plan on using an established framework, ensure the official journal (OJEU) appropriately identifies you beforehand, otherwise you’re operating outside the safety of consortium regulations.

If you are covered, be aware that all terms and conditions can be overwritten by the final contract and so offer no purpose to your long term relationship with the given supplier.

4. Whose interests are they looking out for?

The majority of leading procurement frameworks are commercial organisations, not regulated by any governing body or public organisation. Therefore they have no obligation to the interests of buyers or suppliers.

Think: Are you happy leaving your procurement process in the hands of a completely unregulated organisation?

What now?

So perhaps utilising a framework may not be the best route for the needs of your organisation, but when it comes to producing your own procurement specification, where do you even start?

Producing a document from scratch is all very well, but in reality you simply may not have the time. Which is why bluQube are here to help you create something based around YOUR needs, not anyone else’s. We make sure all the main points are there, covering the necessary functionality details, as well as questions that look wider at the supplier and what else they can offer you.

But don’t leave it there. Chop, change and tweak the questions to best suit your organisation and the way you envisage your finance department working to ensure you choose a supplier that’s truly the right fit for you.

Get in touch with bluQube today on 08456 44 77 88 or fill out a form on bluQube.co.uk for a free, no-obligation consultation for your business.

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