If your business is attempting to win more public sector work, and finding it difficult, you are not alone.
Many businesses that apply for public sector work will fall short due to high volumes of competition and lack of knowledge of the tender process.
Luckily, there are some ways of increasing your likelihood of winning your dream public sector contract.
Along with the methods above, there is another way to increase your success rate and that is by looking to see what framework agreements you can bid for.
Framework agreements are set up and reflect what was previously an approved suppliers list. Once these framework agreements it often means you have access to a wider range of public sector buyers.
The most well known and successful of these is managed through The Crown Commercial Services Framework (CCS).
The CCS framework has the goal of making public procurement simple, saving the supplier and buyer time and money.
So, without further ado, let’s explain everything you need to know about it!
What is Crown Commercial Services?
Crown Commercial Services is an executive agency and trading fund of the Cabinet Office of the UK government. The CCS aims to bring together policy, advice and direct buying by providing commercial services to the public sector.
The reasoning for bringing these together is to:
Make savings for customers, in central government and the public sector.
Achieve maximum value from every commercial relationship.
Improve the service delivery for common goods and service across government.
Increase savings for the taxpayer
CCS achieve these benefits by managing the procurement and centralising the buying requirements of common goods and services, as well as leasing on procurement policy on behalf of the UK.
Currently, CCS works with over 17,000 customer organisations in the public sector, while having more than 5,000 provide their service.
What is the CCS Framework?
Crown Commercial Services or CCS is arguably the most successful Public Sector Procurement Hub for National EU Compliant Framework Agreements in the UK.
Similar to NHS Supply Chain, for example, their focus is to save public sector buyers time through pre-establishing agreements which buyers can either direct call-off from (without any further competition required – simply offering a compliant route to work with suppliers) or run mini-competitions in order to source the best partner across a huge array of services.
By pulling together the buying power of many organisations not only can they arguably save time for busy procurement teams, but also ensure greater economies of scale, to encourage suppliers to bid more competitively and therefore save the public-sector money, while offering EU Compliance.
Why is the CCS important to businesses?
To give an idea of scale, CCS currently have 126 live framework agreement (EU complaint agreements, which different groups of largely public sector buyers can use). Broadly these range from:
- Buildings – construction, utilities & fuels, workplace
- Corporate Solutions – document management & logistics, financial services, fleet, marketing communications & research, travel
- People – contract centre, people services, professional services, workforce health & education, PSR & permanent recruitment
- Technology – digital future, network services, cyber, technology products & services.
Across these agreements in 2018/19 they helped over 18,000 public sector contracting authorities save over £945m through the use of these agreements.
In many sectors, it is often a key requirement to be on one or more of these central public sector procurement frameworks and it will be a continual challenge to the sales teams making contact with Councils, NHS, Housing Associations etc. asking the question, ‘are you on CCS?’.
What is useful with CCS is that they look for early engagement from the supply chain, when developing their frameworks.
This gives bidders an opportunity to plan for upcoming tendering opportunities through Crown Commercial Services, engage and ensure they have as much evidence, and pre-bid activities completed in order to both ensure compliance with their requirements, as well as being able to compete with rival bidders.
What to consider when bidding into CCS
There will be an SQ (Selection Questionnaire), which is a mix of self-declaration statements, but will assess the financial stability, technical and professional ability (references and trade certifications), insurance levels, Cyber Essentials etc.
Then followed by an Award Questionnaire/ ITT, which will be the specific technical requirements and usually the opportunity for bidders to respond to both a pricing and quality section.
Evidence of your quality systems, performance and the success of your team is very important.
This will be through procedures, CVs, Case Studies and Statistics, so something that should be considered well before the tender is advertised, wherever possible.
By building this base of evidence, bidders can focus on responding to the specifics of the tender, rather than having to source evidence to support it once the opportunity is live.
How do you get onto the CSS?
Shaping the wider procurement environment, Thornton & Lowe have worked with CCS to help refine their procurement documents.
Looking to improve engagement with bidders, we provided constructive feedback to support their Crown Commercial Services Simplified Tender Pack.
We have successfully helped our clients secure places on over 40 of these often-business critical framework agreements, with over a 95%-win rate across the National Frameworks.
If you are looking for a bid writing team who understands CCS and what they are looking for, understands public sector procurement, and can provide bid writing and management capacity and expertise, please make contact today.
Are you wondering how you can find CCS opportunity and contract awards?
Look no further.
At Thornton & Lowe, we have built our very own software to help people find specific tenders for their industry.
Our software, Tender Pipeline, has access to millions of tenders & bids across Europe.
Within a few easy clicks, you can be browsing our tender pipeline and monitor who is winning public contracts in your sector.