Framework agreements are an agreement between a buyer and one or more organisations which clarifies the key terms (usually quality, price and quantity) governing work which will be awarded during a given time period.
If a supplier is successful in gaining acceptance onto a framework agreement they are an approved supplier of that organisation within the terms of the framework agreement. Whilst this does not guarantee business for the supplier, it means that the supplier is effectively shortlisted by the buyer and that they have the opportunity to win work which is not available to organisations outside the framework agreement.
In summary, by being a member of a framework agreement, the supplier is not guaranteed to be awarded work, but they have taken a significant step forward in terms of the opportunity to win work with the awarding organisation.
It is important to remember that framework agreements outline work that is expected to be required by the buyer over a defined time period (which can be anything up to 10 years), but the work is usually not contractually guaranteed.
Framework agreements are usually announced in a similar manner to standard invitations to tender. All UK public sector frameworks will be in line with OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) procurement thresholds which gives all businesses the opportunity to bid on the framework should they fulfil the criteria set.
Many bid management companies, including BWS Bid Writing Service, have access to public and private sector framework agreement opportunities through dedicated software. They can monitor upcoming opportunities and alert you to any which may be relevant to your business.
Once you identify a framework agreement which you wish to apply for, you must approach your application with due diligence and consideration. The opportunities that can arise by being selected to be a supplier within a framework agreement mean that it’s important that you take the time to fully evidence to the buyer how your company fulfils and ideally exceeds, the brief.
Enlisting the support of a specialist bid writing company can help you to identify your unique selling points, convey them in the most compelling manner and give you the best chance of being successfully selected onto the framework. If you wish to write the application yourself, take a look at our recent blog ‘2021 Guide to A Successful Tender Submission 2021 Guide to A Successful Tender Submission which gives guidance on how to create a compelling bid submission.
It’s crucial to remember that framework agreements are legally binding. So if you don’t think that you are able to complete the work to the terms proposed in the framework agreement notification brief, do not apply. Look for another framework agreement that better suits your business capabilities and objectives.
This usually depends upon the number of suppliers that have been approved to be on the framework and their commitment to the key terms, which as outlined above, are usually quality, price and quantity. The work can either be awarded as a direct award or the buyer may establish a mini-competition.
Direct awards are usually offered when there is only one supplier within the framework agreement who can fulfil the requirements of the work required. This may be on the basis of geography for example.
Where several approved suppliers meet the need, a mini-competition may be established whereby suppliers within the framework compete to be awarded the work. Because suppliers have already been through a pre-approval process (to merit being part of the framework) these mini-competitions are usually a much quicker process than a standard tender process would be.
When deciding whether a Framework Agreement is something that you feel that your organisation should apply for, consider the following advantages and disadvantages:
Advantages to the supplier
- Framework agreements unequivocally offer the possibility of being awarded multiple contracts with one organisation.
- Being on a framework can reduce your administration time. Initially you’ll need to put substantial effort into securing your place on a framework agreement, but once established within the framework, mini-competitions usually involve significantly less administration than a standard tender process for a similar opportunity usually would. You’ll also save time by not needing to continually look for new tender opportunities, if you can secure sufficient business through a framework agreement.
- You have the opportunity to build a long-lasting relationship with an organisation.
- Framework agreements offer the potential for greater business stability, especially during uncertain times. Whilst they don’t guarantee income, they put you a step closer to being awarded the work.
- Framework agreements are often used by public sector bodies, so once established on a framework, it can support your ability to secure future work in other areas across the public sector.
Disadvantages to the supplier
- Even when you have successfully secured your place within a framework agreement there is no guarantee of business, so it’s important you go into a framework agreement fully aware of this. It is entirely possible you will invest significant time into your application for ultimately no return.
- There will still be work to do in terms of maintaining the relationship with the buyer. The work does not stop once you are on the framework – stay front and centre of the buyers minds.