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Framework agreements - the secret to swift procurement

What are framework agreements?

Framework agreements are contracts which allow eligible public sector organisations to appoint a supplier without undertaking a separate tendering process. In some cases, framework agreements are open to public sector organisations in a particular region, such as Councils in Scotland or NHS Trusts in Wales. In other cases, they are open to a particular type of organisation, such as universities. However, framework agreements can also be very wide-ranging, with some being open to all public sector organisations, nationwide.

KiddiVouchers currently holds several framework agreements, which together allow any public sector organisation to have access to our childcare voucher schemes or to our sister products, including employee discount schemes and benefit portals.

What are the advantages of framework agreements?

Tendering exercises are often time-consuming and expensive, typically involving members of several departments in writing specifications, drafting terms, scoring tender submissions, attending presentations and ensuring the legalities of contract award are properly adhered to. By selecting the right framework, public sector organisations can implement a contract which closely meets their needs, while at the same time avoiding the cost of conducting their own tender.

Framework agreements can also be used to combine the buying power of several organisations, helping to ensure the best value for money. The Government considers the use of framework agreements to be an example of best practice in public sector procurement.

Who runs the framework agreements?

Frameworks are often established by procurement hubs, typically as a result of an extensive tendering process which is conducted by the procurement hub on behalf of its members. However, frameworks can also be established by individual public sector organisations which are conducting a tendering exercise to meet their own needs, for example when a council, NHS trust, university or Government department chooses to allow other organisations to access their contract.

Once an organisation has chosen to use a framework, they normally take full control of contract management and run their scheme in the same way as if they had conducted their own tender.

How can I be sure that a framework will satisfy my organisation's needs?

We understand that every client has their own requirements and preferences and so we regularly adapt our processes to ensure that each client's needs are met. We offer bespoke arrangements as part of our standard public sector service, always holding a scheme set-up meeting shortly after contract award to ensure we fully understand each client's priorities.

In some cases, organisations may be cautious about signing up to a framework, in case the contractual service specification fails to address their own needs. However, in our experience the use of a framework has never restricted the service which we have been able to offer to participating organisations. Indeed, some of our frameworks specifically allow for the inclusion of bespoke service level agreements, which enable participating organisations to ensure the contract directly addresses their requirements.

What are the advantages of appointing KiddiVouchers?

KiddiVouchers has a reputation for combining quality of service with genuine value for money. We were delighted to win the 2009 Government Opportunities Award for Excellence in Public Sector Procurement and have continued to have success in business awards in 2010 and 2011.

In the last three years KiddiVouchers has been awarded more public sector contracts and more framework agreements than any other childcare voucher provider. Our experience in the public sector makes us well-placed to provide relevant advice and to understand your needs. And we're also popular with parents, with 99.4% of our customers saying they would recommend us.

KiddiVouchers is a friendly family business which, despite having all the controls and facilities you'd expect, still has a passion for personal service. We're proud to donate at least 5% of profit to UK charities and we're also committed to being carbon neutral.

What if my organisation wants to consider a range of suppliers?

Some frameworks use a single supplier, while others name a number of potential suppliers. In the latter case, participating organisations can run a mini competition to decide which of the potential suppliers they would prefer. The competition could involve asking the named suppliers to provide a presentation, or alternatively suppliers could be asked to respond by post or email to a list of questions. Whether an organisation uses the preferred supplier or runs a mini competition to make their own choice, the costs are likely to be far less than those incurred in a full tender.

We hold frameworks which have been awarded exclusively to KiddiVouchers, but we also hold frameworks which name KiddiVouchers as one of a number of potential suppliers, so we can help regardless of which approach you prefer.

Is it easy to use a framework agreement?

It is normally much easier for an organisation to use an existing framework than for them to conduct a full tendering exercise. In some cases, organisations can choose a framework and appoint a supplier in just a few days.

Are there any costs involved in using a framework agreement?

In some cases, the procurement hub or lead organisation may charge an access fee. However, in most cases it is free for organisations to sign up to our frameworks.

How can I find out about available frameworks?

Although framework contract awards are published in the European Journal, there is no central database and so it can be difficult for organisations to find out about the available frameworks. However, we hold a range of frameworks which ensure that any public sector organisation can easily access our services. Simply contact us to discuss your preferences and we'll explain the options.

We have several clients who are using KiddiVouchers through a framework and we are very happy to put you in touch with them, so that you can find out just how easy it is to join.

What are the next steps?

To find out more about our framework contracts or to arrange a no-obligation presentation, please call us on 0800 612 6110 or email business.enquiries@kiddivouchers.com.