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Making a Government Framework Work For You: A Guide for SME Suppliers

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Jul 11, 2023

For many small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers, navigating the complexities of UK Government contracts and frameworks can be a daunting task.

However, understanding and successfully engaging with public sector frameworks can open doors to a multitude of opportunities for your business. Read on to learn how to make a government framework work in your favour.

Understanding Government frameworks and procurement

Government frameworks are structured agreements between the Government and suppliers, outlining the terms and conditions for procuring goods, services, or works.

These frameworks streamline the procurement process, allowing government agencies to access pre-approved suppliers quickly. As an SME supplier, participating in government frameworks can provide a steady stream of business opportunities and increase your visibility in the market as discussed in more detail in our guide to the pros & cons of a framework agreement.

When searching for framework opportunities, it is important to remember that different types of Government contracts and frameworks exist, for example, Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS), and specific contract arrangements.

Equally important to note is that frameworks target different industries and scopes of works, so there is no one-shoe approach for finding the perfect framework. For further guidance on finding your perfect framework, get in touch or browse our framework toolkit blogs to easier understand the purpose and goals of the most popular UK opportunities.

For a more hands-on approach, and to find relevant frameworks in seconds, we recommend using the free Tender Pipeline database for instant access to all live and upcoming opportunities.

Researching and identifying opportunities to bid for

To make a government framework work for you, it is crucial to invest time and effort into researching and identifying suitable opportunities. By understanding the procurement landscape and aligning your business with relevant government contracts, you can increase your chances of securing valuable contracts.

Here are our top tips for research success:

Use Government procurement websites/portals: Start by exploring Government procurement websites and portals specific to the area you cover. These platforms are valuable sources of information as they list available contracts, frameworks, and tender opportunities.

Reward yourself by familiarising yourself with these websites and regularly monitor them for updates, maximising the time you can spend perfecting your bid.

Understand the framework requirements: Take the time to read the framework requirements and understand the specific criteria necessary to deliver the types of works listed under the scope.

Each procurement opportunity may have distinct eligibility criteria, technical specifications, and evaluation criteria, so it is important to carefully review these details to ensure you meet the necessary qualification

Identifying suitable frameworks: Once you have gained an understanding of the procurement landscape and requirements, the next step is to identify frameworks that align with your capabilities, products, and services.

Remember, gaining framework placement is only half the battle; you will likely need to re-tender for contracts during the framework lifetime, so it is important to invest your time bidding for placement on frameworks with contract scopes that you can reasonably deliver. Check out our search and selection service to see how we can save you time and money on this crucial step.

Industry associations and networking: Engage with industry associations, chambers of commerce, and business networks relevant to your sector. Attend industry events, workshops, and seminars to expand your network and gain access to valuable information.

For guidance on doing this without breaking procurement rules, see our business-2-government (B2G) sales and marketing FAQs.

Explore subcontracting and sub-supplier opportunities: This allows your SME to participate in Government projects indirectly through collaboration with prime contractors. To maximise the value of this and win a contract you otherwise couldn’t win alone, research prime contractors and understand their subcontracting requirements to find suitable partnerships.

Market intelligence and competitor analysis: Conduct thorough market intelligence and competitor analysis to understand the competitive landscape. Identify other SMEs and larger firms operating in your sector and analyse their past performance, strengths, weaknesses, and unique selling points.

This analysis can help you identify gaps and opportunities to differentiate your SME from your competitors, helping you come out on top during the procurement process. See how we can help with our range of Contract Management Services.

Build a competitive advantage over other bidders

When bidding for framework awards, building a competitive advantage is essential as it enables you to differentiate your businesses, highlight your strengths, and position yourself as the preferred choice for public sector buyers. It is crucial to assess your business capabilities by conducting an honest evaluation of your strengths, areas of expertise, and unique selling points.

Once identified, you should identify the target sectors that align with your offerings. By concentrating on specific markets, you can develop a deeper understanding of the sector's needs and requirements, positioning themselves as experts in those areas.

To build a competitive advantage, it is important to clearly communicate the unique benefits you will bring to the framework by emphasising how your solution addresses the buyer’s challenges, drives efficiency, reduces costs, or creates social impact.

Moreover, obtaining relevant certifications, accreditations, or quality management standards demonstrates your commitment to excellence and compliance. These certifications instil confidence in Government buyers and showcase your adherence to industry best practices.

Compliance and partnerships within frameworks

Compliance with regulations and forming strategic partnerships are crucial for SME suppliers in government procurement. Adhering to legal and ethical requirements while forging collaborations significantly enhances success.

You must ensure thorough compliance with financial, environmental, safety, and labour regulations, maintaining accurate documentation and reporting whilst prioritising cybersecurity and data protection.

How Thornton & Lowe can help you make government frameworks work for you

We know that our clients have what it takes to win, and we champion the SMEs that make it happen. With a success rate of 75% and 90% client retention, get in touch and let us be the voice that helps make Government frameworks work for you today!

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