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Funeral for a framework?


Have recent changes to procurement made conventional frameworks obsolete? Alan Heron, head of procurement at the Procurement Hub explains

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Funeral for a framework?

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The world is changing at an ever-increasing pace, but are the procurement methods we use still fit for purpose?


The ubiquitous framework we all know was established almost 12 years ago, but in that time a lot has changed. In fact, the rate of change seems to be increasing almost daily. However for many organisations the framework is the only tool in the proverbial toolbox. We live in a period of huge uncertainty, and we need a range of solutions to deal with the challenges presented to us in the most intelligent and effective manner we can.


In a tempestuous sea of change we need a flexible, agile and intelligent procurement vehicle to navigate our way through. Although the trusted framework is sturdy, is it as agile and flexible as we need?


Frameworks were born in a time when we were still watching VHSs, social media was unheard of, a global financial crash was unthinkable, and no one would ever recognise the word ‘Brexit’. How quickly the world has changed, yet how many of us still think of the framework as the solution to any procurement problem? Are we living in the past? Is there an alternative? Is it time to write a eulogy for the framework?


We should constantly strive to challenge ourselves and our environment, or complacency takes hold. How confident are we that the procurement tools and techniques we use are the ‘best in class’, or the ‘most suited to the requirement’, or are they simply ‘what we have always used’?


Buried within the considerable changes introduced in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 were some significant changes to a procurement platform called the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS). The revised regulations of 2015 unshackled the DPS from prohibitive constraints and administrative red tape that had previously relegated it to being practically unusable. These cumbersome measures included a requirement to publish a new contract notice each time a new contract was intended to be let from the DPS, and a restrictive four-year limit (similar to that still in place for frameworks).


But what is a DPS, and how does it help us? A DPS is effectively similar to a framework apart from:

  • New suppliers can be added at any point
  • A DPS can be in place for 20 years or more

The flexibility of a DPS opens up myriad possibilities - better engagement with SMEs, more localised focus within procurement exercises, the flexibility to deal with complex environments and the opportunity to introduce new technologies and suppliers as the environment changes around us - all in a fully Official Journal of the European Union-compliant manner.


The DPS is no nearer a panacea than the framework is, but what is crucial is that for the first time in 12 years it provides us with choice.


No longer should we consider the framework as the only solution to procuring goods, services or works. While the framework may still be the most appropriate vehicle for some exercises, it is not the most appropriate for all.


At Procurement Hub, we fundamentally believe in challenging our environment and delivering innovation. That is the reason we have introduced a range of procurement solutions which comprise both frameworks and dynamic purchasing systems.


The framework may not be dead, but at long last it has competition.

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