Mark SayManaging EditorWednesday 11 October 2017

CCS reviews future shape of digital frameworks

Crown Commercial Service officials indicate that all options are open in effort to build ‘more dynamic’ mechanisms – and call for input on renewal of Microsoft MoU

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is looking at the future shape of its procurement frameworks for digital products and services, with the possibility that it might develop alternative mechanisms.

Abstract - shopping trolley with iconsDan Saxby, category director at CCS, outlined its thinking in a breakout session of public sector IT association Socitm yesterday.

He said there is an acknowledgement within the organisation that its frameworks are not fully aligned to the buying needs of local government. CCS estimates that the UK public sector spent about £16.4 billion on technology in 2016-17, of which only £3.3 billion went through its frameworks.

In an effort to increase the share, it believes it has to be “more dynamic” in its offerings and to cooperate with public authorities to develop a new approach.

“It will only feel collaborative if we listen, have some good strategic alignment and you will feel like you’re getting value for money,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of work we need to do to even change the language and the construct around public procurement.”

Saxby said it is already taking feedback from Socitm on the issues and is making a big increase in the size of its public sector engagement team to get more organisations involved.

Changing conversation

He said there will still be a need for standardised contracts between authorities and suppliers, and that CCS will renew some of the agreements that are due to expire over the next two years. “But what we want to do is change the conversation from ‘This is what I need’ to ‘This is what I want to do’.”

This could involve a move away from some frameworks, but he emphasised that they will retain their place if they continue to prove they can attract suppliers and save buyers from a lot of the due diligence needed in procurement.

“But there are many other models you can use to contract, and we’re very open to listening to develop the right type of models.

“This isn’t CCS stating a fundamental shift away from frameworks; it’s about saying let’s have the right type of conversation at the right time – very early on – and creating the right vehicle to suit the needs. We’ve defaulted to frameworks per se, but I think we need to blend it now.”

He said that a new approach, in contrast with the existing focus on delivering specific services, should encourage people to talk with the desired outcome in mind.

 “I just want a marketplace to change where, as a supplier, you can bring your skills and the value you add, it doesn’t really matter about the detail of the terms and conditions, but you can have some early conversations with the buyer, at the right time in the journey, to talk about the appropriate nature of how you can work with them to deliver an outcome.”

Microsoft renewal

One of the CCS’s key arrangements, its memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Microsoft for sales to the public sector, is due for renewal in April of next year. Saxby’s colleague Ben Knight said he has been working on trying to understand what its customers need from a new arrangement and is looking for input on issues such as terms and conditions, pricing and migration to its cloud services.

Socitm president Geoff Connell told UKAuthority that he is working with CCS on the issue and is keen to take input from public authorities to feed into the discussions.

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