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Frameworks offer a standardised way for public sector organisations to procure goods and services from a list of pre-approved suppliers. This article provides a brief overview of the frameworks our SASE solution has been selected to appear on.

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Introduction to frameworks

Frameworks offer a standardised way for public sector organisations to procure goods and services from a list of pre-approved suppliers. They allow your procurement team to identify companies that specialise in certain fields, and can simplify the bidding and contract award process through common terms and legal protections.

Each framework is structured differently depending on what services are being offered, and the size and calibre of suppliers allowed to use them. Tender, bidding and contract award process vary, with some frameworks designed to be very light-touch and streamlined. Others will carry stricter governance around bidding and contract award to ensure compliance with industry regulation, and to promote fair competition between suppliers.

Generally, suppliers will be asked to prove that they can supply the products and services defined in each framework, and need to submit evidence that they have the relevant insurance and qualifications in place before being awarded a place on the framework. This article explains all the frameworks where Cloud Gateway can currently be found. We are actively developing our framework presence in order to reach more customers in the public sector who would benefit from our solutions.

Why should I use a framework?

Frameworks can eliminate the need for you to carry out your own tender process, and help you to access a range of suppliers that can deliver on your organisation’s needs. If used correctly, frameworks will do much of the heavy lifting on your behalf, allowing you to save time and money. Depending on your industry, the type of product/service, and the overall contract value, it may be mandatory to procure through a framework.

Crown Commercial Services (CCS) have a handy guide called ‘Procurement Essentials’ that can help you to identify the right framework depending on your unique requirements. Click here.

G-Cloud - RM1557

CCS Description:

“G-Cloud 12 helps customers in the UK public sector find and buy cloud computing services. Any call-off will have an initial maximum duration of 24 months. You are allowed two extension options of up to 12 months each and must specify this in the initial contract terms. Certain restrictions apply to central government contract extensions.”

Benefits 

  • G Cloud is one of the largest frameworks run by CCS. It contains over 38,000 services and over 5,200 suppliers across Cloud Hosting and Support disciplines. All supplier offerings can be searched online without needing to register as a buyer

  • G Cloud pricing and service definitions are published online too. This allows you to get an idea of what solutions are out there, and how much they could cost - well in advance of the actual procurement process

  • A key tenet of cloud is for solutions to be scalable. Most services listed on G-Cloud allow you to start small, pay for what you use, and grow on demand when your needs evolve

  • The framework supports direct award, giving you a quick and easy route to market

  • The framework is refreshed annually, with all submissions scrutinised by CCS. This ensures you have access to the latest cloud-based technologies in the market

G-Cloud is particularly easy to procure through. You don’t need to register to use it, and the buying process is streamlined into 6 simple steps via the Digital Marketplace. The framework provides a range of templated documents including call-off and framework agreements, schedules and supplier lists. You can direct-award a contract with G-Cloud too.

Technology Services 3 (TS3) - RM6100

CCS Description:

“TS3 provides access to technology strategy and service design as well as services to provide support with moving to the operational running of an IT estate. It also provides support for large projects, up to top secret classification and a range of other technology services”

 Services include: 

  • Provision and management of IT service desk

  • End user device support

  • Network support

  • Asset disposal and application maintenance

  • IT infrastructure support (for example, server and storage hardware)

 Benefits 

  • TS3 offers value to the public sector by promoting competition between suppliers on every contract

  • It can reduce timescales by eliminating the need for further OJEU process upon procurement completion

  • Terms and conditions are pre-written and templated, saving time and resource to draw up specific contract terms with your supplier

  • Promotes wide choice of supplier solutions through a single framework, with a common scoring mechanism to assess them fairly

  • Caters for a wide range of scenarios. Large contracts can be aggregated or disaggregated, and multiple purchasing customers can collaborate on a tender together

  • There are over 200 pre-approved suppliers on the framework, of which over 60% are SMEs

The framework is divided into multiple lots, some of which are available for direct award. TS3 also provides a further competition structure that allows you to launch a Request for Information (RFI) and an Invitation to Tender (ITT), complete with evaluation criteria and bid scoring structure. Each lot has its own call-off term templates and evaluation process, allowing you to carry out a detailed discovery process for more complex requirements.

HSCN Access Services DPS - RM3825

CCS Description:

“This agreement provides access to the HSCN for health, social care, and related organisations. The HSCN is a data network that enables health and social care services to access and share information reliably, flexibly and efficiently. The agreement includes support for transition and implementation. The framework uses a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) which helps customers find relevant suppliers through a filtering system.”

Benefits 

  • All suppliers have already evidenced their HSCN compliance with NHS-Digital, so you can be confident that all organisations on the list can provide HSCN connectivity 

  • You can purchase supplementary network services including PSN Connectivity, Cloud Connectivity, VPNs and Internet Connectivity on this framework

  • You can also purchase network security services such as Firewalls, Intrusion Prevention and Intrusion Protection (IPS/IDS)

  • Professional services to support migration and implementation can also be obtained on this DPS

  • HSCN Connectivity is generally a lower cost compared to legacy N3 connectivity, which is being phased out

  • A DPS often improves choice and therefore value for money

To procure through this DPS you first need to register as a buyer. Once registered, you can view and filter all appointed suppliers according to your needs, and invite them to run a further competition using CCS’s esourcing tool. CCS manages the procurement from start to finish. This DPS has a facility where you can run an aggregated procurement, allowing you to link-up with other organisations with a similar requirement. By teaming-up to obtain an aggregated quote, it is possible to leverage better commercial terms with suppliers.

Spark DPS - RM6094

CCS Description:

“Spark: the Technology Innovation Marketplace can help government and public sector to access new and emerging technology products. It allows customers access to proven new technology innovations which are useful for solving public sector problems.”

Innovation is a broad term that spans a number of technology areas. Spark DPS allows you to filter by 8 specific disciplines:

  • Internet of Things (IoT)

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation

  • Simulated and enhanced environments

  • Engineering/materials science

  • Data

  • Wearables

  • Transport

  • Security

To help whittle down the options, you can also filter by problem area, technology type, location and security classification. 

Benefits 

  • To be listed on Spark, each supplier has to prove their technology innovation with real-life examples. You will only have access to suppliers that have demonstrated that their solution works

  • Spark can be used for any size project. There is no minimum or maximum value

  • This agreement has no lots, which makes procurement much simpler. You simply use the filter system to produce a list of potential suppliers based on your needs

This DPS has a similar registration and shortlisting process to HSCN Access Services RM3825. It can be used to conduct a simple call for competition without carrying out Pre-Tender Market Engagement (PTME), Capability Assessment or a Presentation. However, all of these steps are possible under the Spark DPS and is recommended if your project has a high value or complexity.

Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) - RM1043

CCS Description:

“This agreement can be used by all public sector organisations to find suppliers who can design, build and provide bespoke digital services using an agile approach. Call-off contracts placed under this agreement will have a maximum duration of 2 years.”

Benefits

  • DOS allows you to specify bespoke requirements within a flexible lot structure, and publish them for suppliers to respond to

  • There is no restriction on the value of an individual call-off contract. The framework has an overall OJEU value of £2 billion

  • The framework terms and conditions follow a pre-approved public sector format, but you have scope to tailor your call-off contract in accordance with your unique needs

  • You own the intellectual property rights and source code for any bespoke development done under the DOS framework. This allows you to re-use and share these with other public sector buyers if you wish

  • DOS is a breeding ground for SME’s that are generally very responsive and flexible. They will often use an agile approach when designing your digital services

With DOS, you need to run a two-stage further competition process to find a suitable supplier. There is no option to direct award with this agreement. You should get approval to buy what you need before conducting the further competition and prepare a description of your needs, which will be publicly published on the Digital Marketplace. 

Suppliers will respond with questions and express their interest, giving you a selection of options from which you can build a shortlist. Shortlisted suppliers are then invited to an assessment stage where official written proposals can be collated. After reviewing and scoring the written proposals you can award a contract to your chosen supplier.

What next?

The relevance and value of supplier proposals from these frameworks will be much greater if you fully understand your core requirements and can convey them clearly in your RFQ or call for competition. This is simple in theory, but it can be tempting to make assumptions about the kind of solution you need before you even start. This could bias your framework approach, and limit your choice of supplier - inadvertently closing the door to viable options.

There are often multiple ways to solve a business problem, and the tech landscape is constantly evolving, so we recommend engaging with the tech industry to get a high level understanding of available technologies before diving into your framework application. This will help you to form a well-rounded business requirement that can attract a broad set of possible solutions for you to assess.

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Download our latest A Rough Guide to SASE ebook.

By way of an introduction to Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), we have launched our Rough Guide to SASE ebook showcasing the different component parts of the framework and providing an explanation of the value and benefit they can deliver for your organisation.

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