How To Access Framework Agreements

4th October 2023
Public Sector Sales, Tenders

Securing a spot on a coveted framework agreement can be a transformative experience for a business. It offers direct routes to a wealth of contracting opportunities with public sector organizations. However, the tendering journey can be labyrinthine. Here’s a comprehensive look at the stages involved in piecing together a robust tender submission for a framework.

1. Framework Announcement and Decision

Research: Once the framework is announced, the very first step is exhaustive research. Understand the framework’s scope, specific lots, and the kind of suppliers the framework is targeting.

Decision-making: Decide whether the framework aligns with your business offerings, and whether it’s feasible for you to meet the criteria and deliver on the contract if successful.

2. Collation of Preliminary Documentation

Before even touching the tender documentation, ensure you have:

  • Financial Records: Many frameworks require bidders to demonstrate financial stability, often spanning several years.

  • Company Policies: These may include health and safety, equality and diversity, environmental policies, and more.

  • Accreditations: Relevant industry certifications, affiliations, and awards can enhance your submission.

We will expand on this later within this post – keep reading!

3. Thoroughly Review the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) or Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)

This stage is about proving your business’s suitability. The procuring entity will evaluate:

  • Company Details: Basic information about your organization, its structure, and its principals.

  • Financial Stability: Typically assessed through turnover, profit and loss, and liquidity ratios.

  • Technical and Professional Ability: Showcase your experience, past contracts, and feedback.

  • Compliance: Ensure your business adheres to regulations, especially around health and safety, environmental standards, and equality.

4. Delve into the Invitation to Tender (ITT) Document

The ITT is where you will make your pitch. Key aspects include:

  • Method Statements: Detailed descriptions of how you’ll provide the services/goods.

  • Case Studies: Demonstrative examples of past projects that highlight your prowess.

  • Pricing Structure: A clear breakdown of your prices, ensuring they are both competitive and realistic. Prices may not be relevant for all frameworks, although they will feature on every tender.

  • Value-added Propositions: This could be innovations, community benefits, or training opportunities you offer, setting you apart from competitors.

5. Engage Stakeholders

Tender writing shouldn’t be a solitary endeavor. Engage:

  • Operational Teams: For insights into practical aspects of delivery and ongoing service (if appropriate).

  • Financial Teams: For accurate pricing

  • Marketing and Sales: For value propositions.

  • Legal Teams: To ensure compliance and review terms and conditions.

If you are writing your own framework response, it is key to approach your information gathering from the head of each business function and coordinate their responses. Each business function will be specialists in their field or area, they will understand the customer journey whilst their business unit will be supporting the customer.

6. Drafting and Refinement

Start early. Draft responses to each section, then revisit them multiple times. Refinement includes:

  • Alignment: Ensure every answer aligns with the framework’s objectives.

  • Clarity and Conciseness: Eliminate jargon and fluff. Be direct.

  • Evidence-based Responses: Support claims with facts, statistics, and testimonials.

Consider keeping a reference log from your clients with phrases and their feedback. It is much easier to revert back to one place if you are looking to substantiate a claim or statement within your framework response (or your tender response.)

7. Quality Assurance and Review

Before submission:

  • Internal Review: Have a team (preferably those not directly involved in the initial drafting) review the submission for clarity, accuracy, and compliance.

  • External Review (Optional but Beneficial): Consider engaging an expert or consultancy familiar with the framework to review your submission.

Often referred to as a Peer Review, every section should be reviewed and approved by an internal stakeholder to verify that the content is a true and accurate reflection of that business function. Once the content has been approved, this can then form part of the sales collateral for a tender response or any other sales or marketing collateral needed in the future.

8. Submission and Follow-Up

Once confident, submit your tender before the deadline. After submission:

  • Query Handling: Some frameworks allow for a clarification period where you can raise queries or answer the procuring entity’s questions.

  • Presentation: Depending on the framework, you might be invited for a presentation or an interview as a part of the evaluation process.

Lets go back now to the documentation needed to submit onto a framework. This may vary from framework to framework, however this is a good sample list.

Collation of Preliminary Documentation for Framework Tender Submission

The process of tendering for a spot on a framework agreement necessitates a comprehensive collection of preliminary documentation. This not only provides a foundation for a strong bid but also establishes your business’s credibility, professionalism, and capability. Here’s a deep dive into the components of preliminary documentation and the essentials of collating them:

  • 1. Financial Records

    You will be asked for Financial Standing and whilst there are several ways in which you can do this, you may need one or more of the following:

  • Annual Reports and Accounts: Most frameworks will require up-to-date financial statements, including balance sheets, profit and loss accounts, and cash flow statements, to demonstrate your financial health.

  • Financial Ratios: Key indicators such as liquidity ratios, solvency ratios, and profitability ratios might be examined to assess your financial stability.

  • Bank Statements: Recent bank statements or a financial reference from your bank can further attest to your financial standing.

  • 2. Company Policies

  • Health and Safety: A policy demonstrating commitment to maintaining safe practices, often complemented by risk assessments and safety training records.

  • Equality and Diversity: A policy highlighting your commitment to fair treatment and inclusion for all employees and stakeholders.

  • Environmental Policy: Detailing your business’s dedication to sustainable practices, energy conservation, waste management, and other green initiatives.

  • Quality Assurance: Demonstrating your commitment to delivering quality services or products, often underpinned by recognized quality standards (e.g., ISO 9001).

  • Data Protection and Privacy: Especially crucial in the age of GDPR, this policy outlines how you handle and protect data.

  • Insurance Certificates: Proof of relevant business insurances (e.g., public liability, professional indemnity, employers’ liability) ensures you’re adequately protected and compliant.

    You may also be asked for statements or policies for Modern Slavery and Carbon Reduction or Sustainability plan depending on the size of your business.

  • 3. Accreditations and Certifications

  • Industry-Specific Certifications: Depending on your sector, there might be mandatory or recommended certifications. For instance, IT service providers might consider ISO 27001 for information security. ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environmental) are other common standards that are asked for – but each framework is different and you may not be asked for any.

  • Professional Memberships: Affiliations with recognized industry bodies or associations can elevate your business’s standing.

  • Training and Development Certifications: Evidence of ongoing staff training can highlight your dedication to professional growth and service excellence – this includes Cyber Essentials.

    You may also consider Prompt Payment Code here as well.

  • 4. Case Studies and Testimonials

  • Past Projects: Detailed accounts of similar projects you’ve undertaken, the challenges faced, and the solutions provided.

  • Client Testimonials: Direct feedback from previous or current clients about your services or products can be a powerful testament to your capabilities.

    For more information on how to write a good reference see here and download our references template.

  • 5. Technical and Equipment Details

  • Resource List: Detailing machinery, technology, or tools at your disposal to execute the required tasks.

  • Software and IT Infrastructure: For tech-related tenders, a comprehensive list of software, platforms, and IT infrastructure can prove your readiness.

  • 6. Personnel Details

  • Key Personnel CVs: Highlight the expertise and experience of your team members, especially those who would play pivotal roles in the framework.

  • Training Records: Evidence of any special training or qualifications your team has undergone, relevant to the framework.

  • 7. Legal Documentation

  • Business Registration: Proof of your business’s legal registration and any relevant licenses or permits.

  • Non-Disclosure Agreements: If required, especially when dealing with sensitive information.

  • Contracts and Agreements: Previous contracts can be a testament to your experience and reliability.

Even if you are not an eligible company defined under the Modern Slavery Act (threshold annual turnover £37m), you will still be asked to demonstrate how you are compliant with MSA within your business and your supply chain.

Modern Slavery Action Plan:

  • Relevance: Modern slavery pertains to exploitative practices, such as forced labor, bonded labor, child labor, and human trafficking. Companies are expected to ensure that none of their operations, domestically or internationally, contribute to these malpractices.

  • Evaluation Criteria Inclusion:

    • Policy Documentation: Organizations may be required to submit a modern slavery policy or statement, illustrating their commitment to combatting these practices within their supply chains.

    • Due Diligence Processes: Details about procedures to identify and mitigate risks related to modern slavery in both direct operations and supply chains.

    • Training and Awareness: Information about any training provided to staff regarding modern slavery and how to spot potential risks.

    • Monitoring and Reporting: Mechanisms in place to regularly review, monitor, and report on modern slavery risks and actions taken.

Sustainability is a key factor for all tenders now and whilst the questions may not carry a score, they may carry a pass/fail metric if the tender is large enough. Regardless of your company size, it is important to consider your own sustainability and carbon reduction plan.

Carbon Reduction Plan:

  • Relevance: With global emphasis on combatting climate change, organizations are expected to contribute by reducing their carbon footprint. This encompasses efforts to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, adopt sustainable practices, and possibly offset carbon emissions.

  • Evaluation Criteria Inclusion:

    • Carbon Footprint Analysis: A baseline assessment detailing the organization’s current carbon emissions.

    • Reduction Targets: Clearly defined targets for carbon reduction over specified time frames, aligned with international goals like the Paris Agreement.

    • Action Steps: Specific measures the organization plans to take to achieve these targets, such as transitioning to renewable energy, optimizing transportation, or enhancing operational efficiency.

    • Monitoring and Reporting: Systems for regularly tracking carbon emissions, reviewing reduction strategies, and reporting on progress.

    • Engagement with Stakeholders: Efforts to involve suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders in the organization’s carbon reduction initiatives.

Tips for a Successful Application

  • Detail is Key: The CCS seeks detailed responses. Avoid generic statements and focus on specific examples and evidence.

  • Price Appropriately: While competitive pricing is essential, avoid under-pricing to the extent that it compromises service quality.

  • Use Framework Workshops: The CCS often holds workshops for potential suppliers. Attend these to gain insights and ask questions.

  • Stay Updated: Frameworks don’t last forever. Keep an eye on expiry dates and be prepared to reapply or adjust as new frameworks emerge.

Tender Response stands out in the bid writing landscape with a unique fusion of seasoned Bid Writing Consultants and an unparalleled commitment to excellence. Our collaborative journey begins with a Strategy Workshop, where your organization’s subject matter experts converge with our team, paving the way for a meticulously crafted bid strategy. We not only design this strategy but also implement a comprehensive production schedule. Our modern approach ensures we keep pace with your needs, using video conferencing for our workshops and discussions, eliminating unnecessary travel and maximizing efficiency.

As we dive deep into the bid preparation, our dedication to transparency is evident. All response-related materials are securely stored and accessible for your review, ensuring you’re updated at every step. Upon reaching the draft phase, we encourage your invaluable feedback, refining and tweaking the bid to meet your exact specifications. With our joint efforts, the bid evolves into its most compelling version, ready for submission. If you’re aiming to elevate your bidding process to unparalleled standards, book a call with the Tender Response team today.

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