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Government needs to look beyond the framework agreements

From the Knowledge Centre

The various public sector contract notices appearing every day seem to show that some Government departments and agencies are open to expressions of interest from suppliers of all shapes and sizes, as long as they’ve got the right credentials and experience.

The various public sector contract notices appearing every day seem to show that some Government departments and agencies are open to expressions of interest from suppliers of all shapes and sizes, as long as they’ve got the right credentials and experience.

On the other hand, some departments are limited by frameworks, with a mandate to invite bids only from a small number of massive providers, effectively excluding smaller but otherwise highly qualified alternative suppliers for years.

While major outsource providers undoubtedly have a role to play, for many opportunities massive capacity isn’t actually required. As a result, customers can easily end up locked into contracts for services that could be delivered equally well by smaller, agile providers.

While there’s a clear Government drive to outsource the delivery of public services where possible, we think it’s important that departmental procurement professionals take steps to analyse just what it is that they’re looking for in their customer contact outsourcing partner. For a significant number of mid-size projects particularly, there’s still a need for enterprise-class service delivery. However these type of engagements are often of a much lower value than those sought by the larger outsourcers.

If there’s complexity involved – and there invariably is in public sector outsourcing projects – don’t some departments deserve more choice than a few major global outsourcing providers? Sometimes you just need a partner that can help you get the job done.

At Echo we’ve been successfully engaged in public sector customer contact projects since we were formed almost 15 years ago, and we’ve got specialists in place who’ve been tendering for public sector contracts for 20 years. Our clients deserve a great deal of credit for taking a longer-term view of their customer engagement challenges - for example we’re immensely proud to have worked with the Royal Air Force for nearly 15 years and with the National Apprenticeship Service for over 10 years.

This level of experience gives us a real insight into changing Government procurement approaches, and reinforces the value of a more focused contact approach that always aims to provide first time resolution and successful, measurable outcomes for public sector customers, whichever contact channel they choose to use.

So if you’re a public sector organisation that’s unsure about the next step to take with your customer engagement project, we would encourage you to look beyond the framework agreement – there are plenty of alternatives out there!

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