What are frameworks, how do they work and what are the benefits?

We get asked about frameworks a lot, so to help we have put together a simple guide of everything you need to know, including the different types of frameworks and suggested frameworks for the education sector. Our guide to frameworks covers:

So, let’s talk frameworks…

Click here to read our simple guide: Let’s Talk Frameworks

Tackling Procurement Jargon

One of the first steps to overcome when starting any new tender is understanding procurement jargon. We have put together a list of the most common terms you might see and hear to help you decipher the secret language of procurement.

Term Definition
Framework The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 defines a framework agreement as:

"In these regulations, “framework agreement” means an agreement between one or more contracting authorities and one or more economic operators, the purpose of which is to establish the terms governing contracts to be awarded during a given period, in particular with regard to price and, where appropriate, the quantity envisaged."

In practice, a Framework is a procurement route in which suppliers have already been pre-approved (such as financial viability). This means that a one stage procurement process can be run which is called a ‘mini-competition’.

OJEU Stands for ‘Official Journal of the European Union’ and is the online journal that is home to all public sector contracts that are worth above a certain value.
SQ Stands for ‘Selection Questionnaire,’ and if you’re undergoing a Restricted OJEU process, this is the first stage which asks a number of mandatory eligibility questions as well as questions regarding the Bidders’ relevant experience.
ITT Stands for ‘Invitation to Tender’ and refers to the tender documentation package during the second stage in an OJEU Restricted process.
RFT Stands for ‘Request for Tender’ and refers to the tender documentation package for an OJEU Open process. Sometimes RFT and ITT will be used interchangeably as it essentially refers to the main tender documents (evaluation criteria and service specification).
Site Visit The Site Visit is a great opportunity for potential Bidders to come visit your school site(s) to see your lunch service (catering), building layout and age (cleaning) or to hear out your current capability and strategy (ICT). We recommend the Site Visit to occur sometime in the second week of the tender being out to market – this allows time for Bidders to read through all the tender documentation.
Bidders Presentation Bidders Presentation’s are a great mechanism for the School/Trust representatives (i.e. Heads, Governors) to be presented with a summary of the key components of the Bidders tender response. The School/Trust have an opportunity to ask clarification questions and understand more about the Bidder and their response.
FM Stands for ‘Facilities Management.’ This is a broad category term which includes cleaning, catering, grounds maintenance etc.
PAT Stands for ‘Portable appliance testing’ and is the process in which electrical appliances are routinely checked for safety. You’ll see this in Cleaning tender documents where there is a requirement that the Successful Bidder routinely PAT tests their cleaning equipment.
ABS Stands for ‘Admitted Body Status’ and refers to the certification needed by a commercial company to take Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) staff members onboard following a TUPE process.
Data Collection Catch-all term of collecting the necessary information for the School/Trust on your service to be able to create robust tender documents.
TUPE TUPE is an acronym for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. This can be quite complex, but its intent is to protect employees if the business they work for changes hands. TUPE is applicable in most instances. For the tender process, you need accurate TUPE Workforce Data from your incumbent so Bidders can calculate a precise cost of labour for the service.
Mobilisation Kick-Off This refers to your first meeting with the new Supplier where you can start talking about implementation details, logistics, staffing etc.

What are the different routes to market and how long do they take?

The more time you have to develop your procurement requirements and manage the process, the greater level of competition you can drive from the supplier market and the better value solution your school will receive.

We have gathered some useful information and deadlines to help you keep track of the different routes to market and when you should start the process:

Direct Award


Mini Competition


Full Tender


Timescale for this route to market 1-2 months 2-4 months 6-8 months
Route to market overview We are uniquely placed to offer a direct award service. You can compliantly appoint a supplier that provides the best quality service, benchmarked by us to assure best value. A mini competition allows you to market your tender to a small pool of suppliers who are ideally positioned to successfully deliver your contract. If you require a full tender, we will run an end-to-end procurement to find suitable companies across the UK, we will develop the specification and evaluate the bids.
Why use this route to market? If you know you want to retender with your incumbent supplier or have a preferred supplier in mind, a direct award with our solution allows you to compliantly do this. It also cuts the procurement timescale considerably. A mini competition allows you to reach a selected group of suppliers who have already demonstrated that they have the knowledge and know-how to deliver your contract. We will work together to select the right suppliers for the process. A full tender process allows you to open your bespoke tender to all suppliers across the UK. We will manage the process for you, from writing the specification and facilitating site visits, all the way through to evaluating the received bids and awarding the contract.
What do I need for this route to market? For a direct award you need to be sure that the quality of your chosen supplier is best suited to your needs. We will benchmark the cost to make sure this is the best value for money. A mini competition still requires a detailed specification of your schools’ needs and the relevant data, we will help you complete this. You will receive an assessment report at the end of the process to help make an informed decision. To run a successful full tender it is important to really capture your school’s needs within the tender document. As with all procurements the more accurate your specification (including the data requirements) the better level of service you will receive.

Remember, this will vary slightly depending on whether you have your data requirements ready and if TUPE applies. We always advise you to start the process as early as possible to run a compliant tender and ultimately get better value for your school.

Talk to us about planning your procurement timelines today!

What is a contracts register?

Quite simply, a contracts register is a list of all your current service contracts. It is the best way to keep on top of all your procurement needs and tender start dates. All you need to do is have one master document with all your contracted services including the name of the provider, the start and end dates and the costs. We would recommend you build in an extra column stating when you should begin the tender process.