About the Author

Ken Cole
SPS Consultancy

Ken Cole has worked in senior positions in both the public and private sectors and was one of the founding Directors of SPS in 2001. He recently completed a three year secondment as Director of the London Centre of Excellence. Ken has thrilled many public and private audiences with his incisive analysis, robust delivery and his belief in 'telling it as it is'. His blog is a regular commentary of the improvement and efficiency agenda.

Make sure you pay a frequent visit to find out Ken's latest thoughts on the workings of government, the latest policy initiatives and much more...

Recent Blog Posts...

Hijacking Procurement
Ken Cole
Mar 25, 2013
Mr Pickles uses the 'P word'.
Ken Cole
Mar 07, 2013
Haringey Leads London
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Feb 14, 2013
Time to rethink Supplier Evaluation
Ken Cole
Aug 30, 2012
Smoke and Mirrors in Whitehall!
Ken Cole
Jul 12, 2012
Collaboration at its best
Ken Cole
May 25, 2012
Latest Procurement Card Scare
Ken Cole
Mar 21, 2012
iESE - a model for a Big Society?
Ken Cole
Mar 06, 2012
I wandered lonely as a Cloud
Ken Cole
Feb 03, 2012

Framework Contracts - a false science in the making

Jun 04, 2008

Hardly a week goes by without an announcement about the letting of another framework contract in the name of efficiency. Usually, they are accompanied by claims of potential savings often running into millions of pounds. Saving someone a day of work? - Well that must be worth £300 multiplied by 1,000 for all the projected transactions going through the contract. Voila, a £300k saving! It is almost like the absurd statement in a National eProcurement Project (NePP) guidance document several years ago which claimed the wonders of  "e" could deliver local government over £1 billion worth of savings. Sadly, people actually believed such nonsense which was all based around notional transaction cost reductions.

Let us put frameworks into context. For tactical goods and services with lots of potential suppliers and proportionately low costs, they are a Godsend. In the eyes of a smart purchasing organisation, they remove the stress and hassle, free up scarce resources and allow online customers a fast track to getting all their commodities/services to run the business quickly and efficiently, and usually backed up by a service level agreement.

Deployed in the wrong markets they are often a licence for suppliers to print money as well as restricting innovation. Shortening the procurement timetable is the perceived gain, but the penalty in reality is often increased actual cost and inferior service levels as suppliers exploit their captive market. Organisations that think that putting a bulk of their third party portfolio under frameworks will deliver vast cashable savings are going to be in for a rude awakening. They are one of the many tools in the efficiency armoury which need to be selected by people with commercial acumen if they are to deliver measurable cashable gains.

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