Once a supplier has been awarded a framework, what happens next?
If it’s a single supplier framework, each call-off/piece of work will initially come to procurement to be signed off. Once approval is given, the service area in the council will then contact the supplier directly about whether the supplier would like to accept the work to ensure both capacity and availability. If the supplier is happy to accept, a small call-off contract will be issued to the supplier to legally enter into the contract for that piece of work; this may also include specific KPIs that the council are looking for their suppliers to work towards.
If it’s a framework with mini competition available, where possible STAR will put out an EOI (Expression of interest) to all successful suppliers under the framework. The EOI will be a notification of upcoming work and suppliers can state whether they are interested, have the capacity or are willing to bid for the upcoming work. Even if suppliers don’t respond or are unsure, they can always express an interest and opt out when the actual mini-competition goes live.
The mini competition will be a short procurement exercise between suppliers on the framework, possibly with just a couple of quality questions and a request for price on that piece of work. This will be evaluated by the council and the successful supplier will win that work. Each contract put through the framework is assessed individually and all suppliers will always have an equal chance.
Is there typically a pipeline of mini-competitors?
If STAR or the council has a pipeline of work, we will always issue estimated dates to successful suppliers on the framework. Frameworks are often created when we don’t have a guaranteed level of spend or dates available, so we work off estimates until the mini-competition becomes available and we are then able to be transparent.
Do you expect the supplier to market their services to your members?
We don’t require suppliers to market their services to our members. STAR, where possible, puts all opportunities out openly on our E-Tendering portal ‘The Chest’ which is free to register. Suppliers can express interest or tender for any/all opportunities on there.
If the supplier doesn’t receive any opportunities after being awarded a framework, what do you recommend that they do?
The supplier at any point can send a message on ‘The Chest’ which will be picked up by our project team. There will also be contact details provided in the framework agreement that suppliers sign up to once successful on the framework. However, whilst there is no ‘commitment’ or ‘guaranteed spend’ with a framework, there is always projected work when we set the framework up. Therefore, almost all of the time opportunities would come through to the suppliers on the framework. If for any reason we are not going to use a framework we would inform all suppliers at the earliest point.
From your experience, what steps should a supplier take to ensure that they are engaged and will be successful on the framework?
Ensuring you are registered on ‘The Chest’ and have your pro class settings on correctly will mean automated emails will be sent when any opportunities go live. Suppliers can also search for any opportunities across the North West on ‘The Chest’ at any point.
The STAR website: star-procurement.gov.uk has tips for tendering documents, support for Social Value submissions and all kinds of guidance documents for suppliers. Being pro-active and reading up on any areas the suppliers may need guidance with will aid their submissions.
The suppliers should always read the tender documents clearly and give themselves the most time available to put their submissions together. Any questions regarding documents or their contents can again be asked through ‘The Chest’ prior to submitting.
What shouldn’t a supplier do once awarded a framework?
They should never assume they are guaranteed work or put no effort or resources into the mini-competitions. For frameworks that will run on mini competitions, as stated above, these will all be treated and evaluated individually. The suppliers must be competitive even when awarded a place on these frameworks to win work.
How can suppliers reach out to/engage with your members to understand their pipeline of work?
The suppliers will have ‘Key Personnel’ outlined in their framework agreement which will be their contact in the council, but procurement will also be proactive and inform all suppliers with any available pipelines of work.
How might suppliers better engage with you (the Framework Managers) to maximise the success of the framework for all parties?
STAR will often communicate through ‘The Chest’ as this is our auditable system. Simply responding swiftly on this platform to any communications will allow things to run smoothly. The stakeholders in the council will be the contacts for contract monitoring each project and as long as the supplier delivers all elements of the specification and is working in line with the KPI’s set out in the contract, this will lead to the successful delivery of the framework/call-off contracts.