Our top 5 tips for running a further competition for Multifunctional Devices

You have determined your need for a Multifunctional Device (or a number of devices) for your organisation and have looked through the documents on the RM3781 Agreement, but are still unsure how to run a further competition and what information to include.

A further competition simply means you run a competition, between a set of pre-qualified suppliers, to find the best option for you.

Here are our top 5 tips for what to include:

Tip 1: We would suggest you consider pre-engagement as part of the bid process. This can be beneficial as you can get a feel for how suppliers will respond to your competition and it allows for the opportunity to glean information from suppliers that you may not have considered.

Tip 2: Have the most up to date information to hand, regarding your print infrastructure. This will help suppliers fully understand your current situation.

  • How’s your organisation structured? How many locations and buildings do you have? Is this likely to increase or decrease over the contract?
  • Obtain an audit report from your existing supplier. This will enable you to review your requirements better. How many devices do you have? How are they being used? How many users do they have by type?

Tip 3: Provide as much detail around your specific requirements as possible. 

  • Number and type of assets in scope (photocopiers, MFD’s, desktop printers, etc.)
  • Network infrastructure (locations of servers, active directory, security standards, etc.)
  • Include dimensions of print areas or devices
  • Include print management licenses /certificates

Tip 4: Include a section on innovation, where bidders can list areas of their proposal which are innovative or differentiators.

Tip 5: Keep pricing appendices as simple as possible. 

 

Including this information upfront in your tender documents will hopefully reduce the number of clarification questions you may receive.  However, if you find you still receive some questions, answer these as quickly and in as much detail as possible, as this will assist in meeting the deadlines of the bid process.

Allow as long as possible for bidders to return the completed tender.  As a general rule, we recommend you allow between 4 – 8 weeks for suppliers to prepare their responses, dependent upon complexity.

Learn more

Visit the Multifunctional Devices web page for more information about getting started.

Got a question?

Call us on 0345 410 2222
Email info@crowncommercial.gov.uk
Fill in our online form

Make substantial savings on your water services through a CCS eAuction

Since April 2017, public sector organisations have been able to switch their water supplier to find a better deal and CCS have been helping customers in Central Government and the wider public sector by setting up water aggregations.

Aggregations are where we match customers with similar requirements of common goods and services, allowing them to buy as a single customer and leverage on the higher volume with suppliers pricing and added extras. Since this was launched in 2017, we have helped our customers save up to 10% against the retail average, reducing annual bills by between £100 to £10,000 depending on the estate size.

This further competition is open to all public sector, non-residential premises and will allow participating customers to switch their retail supplier.  We will combine the requirements of participating customers to increase buying power to secure the best retail margin for water and wastewater services. Customers will also benefit from high standard servicing from a dedicated customer service team.

With the past successes we have had, we are running another Lot 1 – Water and Wastewater supply aggregation in early October and to get involved please download and complete the switching template RM3790 Switching Template and return the document to info@crowncommercial.gov.uk by 25th September 2019.

What can we learn from how Dubai ‘does’ financial services?

Earlier this month our Financial Services team was approached by Mastercard to see if we’d be willing to host a delegation from the Dubai Government. As part of their visit to the UK they wanted to understand what role we played in encouraging innovation in financial services, especially in the payments sector.

I thought it sounded like a great idea and a chance for me to understand more about global financial services based on their experiences. 

So, after brushing up on important Arabic customs and greetings I welcomed them to the HM Treasury building for what was a really interesting discussion. 

CCS’s Financial Services team with representatives of Dubai’s government

Leading the group was Ms Amna Mohamed Bin Lootah, Director of Dubai’s Smart Financial Services division (SFS). She explained her role as delivering outstanding and smart financial services so that a citizen’s experience of paying for public services in Dubai is as positive as possible.

We both agreed that there is definitely a role for organisations like ours to encourage innovation, as evident in the world of payments. Whilst the public sector has very little to no competition when it comes to accepting payments (when I need to renew my car tax there’s only one place I can buy it from), that shouldn’t stop us looking at how we can make citizens’ experiences of using our services as slick as possible. It was interesting to discover that there is a body similar to our Government Digital Service in Dubai. 

Just as CCS’s Financial Services team works closely with GDS on payments innovation and increasing cashless payments, the SFS of Dubai works closely with their own digital counterparts.

We spoke about Open Banking – which has been driven by recent EU legislation and will, eventually, affect everyone who banks here, consumers and businesses. Whilst Open Banking is still in its early stages the team is attempting to support and more importantly encourage it in the public sector by looking for innovative services in our next Payments Acceptance framework. As an example; we’re seeking Payment Initiation Service Providers, or PISPs (who in this area are predominantly small fintechs) which provide a quicker and simpler way of making a payment. For anyone taking a non-cash payment for goods and services they are also cheaper.   

It’s obvious that there’s a lot we can learn by listening to others’ experiences but it’s also interesting to hear about the challenges we share in two countries as seemingly different as the UK and Dubai. 

Now that the relationship with the SFS of Dubai has been established I’ll be keeping in touch to carry on sharing and comparing how they and we continue to drive innovation.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions, get in touch and speak to one of our experts today. For information about how our Financial Services frameworks can help you optimise your finances so you can bolster frontline funding, visit our website.

CCS’ Public Sector Vehicle Hire Solutions framework leads the way in social value

Social value is any additional environmental, economic or social benefit provided by a supplier that is relevant to the subject matter of a contract.  It is being increasingly recognised as a vital way to add value in public procurement. 

In light of this, our new Public Sector Vehicle Hire Solutions framework is a flagship for including social value in a centralised procurement.  The framework provides clarity for suppliers and customers, while giving you the flexibility and freedom to decide how best to implement social value within your own supply chains. 

What has changed at framework level?

CCS conducted our pilot procurement using a new approach which ensured only suppliers with a responsible attitude to key social value priority areas were awarded places on the PSVHS framework. 

As part of the framework specification, CCS and our stakeholders developed a social value priority statement (‘the Statement’), which outlines a range of critical governmental targets that we require suppliers to support the public sector in working towards, in the following areas:

  • Supply chain diversity
  • Fair and ethical employment
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Modern slavery
  • Community benefits

For this framework procurement, social value questions on the first three areas listed above accounted for 10% to 20% of the total available marks, with suppliers evaluated and scored against their current business processes and plans for improvement. 

The invitation to tender also required suppliers to disclose their awareness of modern slavery in their supply chain. This is an important area for this framework to address because instances of modern slavery have been reported in the wider car wash market and suppliers need to valet cars regularly to ensure they are clean for the next customer. CCS will work with suppliers to address any labour risks identified in their supply chains throughout the life of the agreement. 

How are customer call-offs different?

We have given you choice and flexibility at the call-off stage to choose which elements of social value to focus on to best meet your organisation’s priorities by opting for one of the three approaches below:

  1. Supplier proposal – you ask suppliers to outline what they can deliver to support  the Public Sector in meeting the Statement’s priority areas in general, including a commitment to self proposed targets.
  2. Customer led – you pick specific targets from the five policy areas in the Statement for suppliers to focus on. Selection questions ask suppliers how they will meet the specific targets. 
  3. Customer plus – you evaluate suppliers on different social value deliverables which are based on your specific organisation’s priorities. 

What’s happening with supplier management?

At CCS, we appreciate that commitments made in a tender are only part of the jigsaw and that performance must be monitored in order to deliver real benefits. 

  • At the call-off level, KPIs are in place requiring suppliers to provide you with an annual delivery statement detailing how they are meeting the agreed social value commitments.
  • Suppliers must also submit an annual report to CCS outlining their social value delivery across all call-offs. 

During this framework we aim to learn from what our suppliers do well and use our market position and expertise to establish best practices which will help all CCS suppliers to improve social value delivery in the future.

If you’d like to get in touch with us about social value or vehicle hire please fill in our online form, call 0345 410 2222, email info@crowncommercial.gov.uk or visit our website

Tackling modern slavery – what CCS is doing

UK Government statement of commitment

Stamping out modern slavery in supply chains is one of the UK Government’s top priorities. 

The Government’s Taskforce on Modern Slavery has endorsed a government-wide strategy to tackle this issue. The strategy has identified actions to ensure modern slavery is tackled in government supply chains through public procurement and has committed Government to publishing its own Modern Slavery Statement in December 2019.

What has CCS been doing? 

We have been working closely with the Home Office and Cabinet Office to deliver an approach to managing modern slavery risk in public sector supply chains, which will inform the Government’s Statement.

As part of this activity, we have:

  • worked closely with the Home Office, Cabinet Office and NQC to develop a Modern Slavery Assessment Tool (MSAT) to help suppliers identify and manage potential modern slavery risks in their supply chains;
  • carried out a risk assessment of our current and planned commercial agreements to identify which contracts are in the sectors and categories where there is greater risk of modern slavery occurring; 
  • compiled a list of high and medium risk framework contracts;
  • run a series of training sessions with NQC to familiarise our Commercial Agreement Managers with the MSAT Tool.

What’s happening next?

We are inviting suppliers that are working under framework contracts in those sectors and categories where there is a greater risk of modern slavery to complete the MSAT assessment. 

To reduce the burden on suppliers, government is adopting a “tell us once” approach using the HMG Supplier Registration Service (‘SID4GOV’). Suppliers will not have to provide the information again for other government departments, but will be asked to approve sharing the information with them.

Our Commercial Agreement Managers will be reviewing suppliers’ assessment results and holding follow-up discussions with all of those suppliers returning a high or medium risk score.

They will then work in partnership with them to ensure that they are putting effective risk mitigation plans in place and addressing modern slavery in their supply chains. 

We recognise that this is not a one-off exercise. As a result, our Commercial Agreement Managers are also risk assessing their future framework contracts to ensure that modern slavery risk is effectively identified and addressed in CCS’s future procurement pipeline. 

The Modern Slavery Assessment is part of a learning process to help government understand how its suppliers are approaching this important issue. The results will not be used as part of any procurement competition.

Get in touch

If you have any queries please get in touch:

  • fill in our online form and mention ‘Modern Slavery’ in the comments box
  • call us on 0345 410 2222

Learn about Spark’s new technology innovation offerings

Do you have a need for new and emerging innovative technology products? Have you been looking for a compliant route to market to access it? If so, then Spark: The Technology Innovation Marketplace could be the answer.

Spark was launched in April this year to provide a smarter way for public sector customers to access the very latest and proven technologies. It is a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) enabling suppliers to join Spark and add new service offerings at any point during its lifetime and includes a filter system to help customers search for products and shortlist relevant suppliers for their bespoke further competitions. As our current appointed suppliers will testify, it’s a simple and quick application process, helping to remove the barriers faced by some SMEs and start ups to doing business with the public sector and enabling true exploitation of innovation.

The number of appointed suppliers has been steadily growing since April and there are now 21, 15 of whom are SMEs, offering a wide range of proven technologies, which are predicted to have the largest impact over the next 2 to 5 years. 

The suppliers’ innovation offerings are not just new and exciting but improving and simplifying everyday life. They cover: the Internet of Things (IoT), AI and automation, simulated and enhanced environments, engineering and materials science, data, wearables, transport, and security. Below are some of the examples;

  • Among the SMEs, Connexin specialises in delivering Smart City and Internet of Things (IoT) technology services to local authorities. 
  • Intechnology also provides Smart City products designed to add social value, increase sustainability and protect the environment. It has rolled out one of the UK’s first city-wide networks for the IoT in Coventry to pilot high-tech public services to improve air quality, pest control, waste management and street lighting. 
  • Some of the other types of innovation on offer from SMEs include GDS Digital Services’ provision of a platform to support IP-based Telecare, Telemedicine and IoT devices within a social care context. 
  • Ocasta provides a ‘gamified’ learning system called “Albert” to improve knowledge among public-facing staff which uses ‘Spaced Learning’ to counteract the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve effect, where knowledge is lost over time.
  • Codebase8 provides software development capabilities, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology, automating the low value, mundane and repetitive administrative tasks within businesses.
  • Placecube develops integrated digital services, turning them into re-usable products that government can more easily consume. Co-designed with government, Placecube has already created quick-to-deploy, reusable solutions for local public services, community collaboration and place-based service directories. All their solutions are based on leading open source technologies and an open ecosystem of reusable digital components.
  • Becrypt provides Paradox, an operating system developed in collaboration with UK Government that reduces cyber security risks and ensures that endpoint devices (desktops, laptops, thin clients, kiosks) always boot into a ‘known good state’ free of any malware or compromise. Updates to the operating system and full application stack are also provided by Becrypt. 
  • Among the larger suppliers, Fujitsu focuses on fast IT technologies such as IoT, analytics, AI, blockchain and quantum inspired computing. 
  • Kainos’ experience spans across emerging technologies including AI, machine learning, security, IoT and data, helping to transform citizen experiences and meet user needs by securely embedding intelligence into software to assist human decision making.
  • Pinacl Solutions focuses on IoT and Smart Places, whose expertise extends to smart street lighting, environmental monitoring, waste management, smart traffic, smart housing and smart parking.

The appointed suppliers are based all around the UK from Brighton, Bristol, Reading and Oxford to Belfast, Manchester, Harrogate, Hull and London, and all offer both levels of security classification.

If you would like to find out more, you can: 

Get in touch to speak to a member of our expert team.

Register for one of our monthly Spark webinars

Visit the Spark web page

Why procurement should be part of your transport project

Over 4,100 wider public sector organisations used Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to purchase technology in the financial year 2018/2019. Were you one of them?

In our experience, an area of technology which is complex and time consuming for buyers is transport technology.

We have commercial agreements with over 75 suppliers in the transport industry and strongly recommend engaging with them. Make procurement part of your project, and let us help you!

A spokesperson from Leeds City Council said:

“Using Crown Commercial Service allowed the Council to select an appropriate contractor to design, install, operate and maintain the Leeds Clean Air Zone. CCS provided prompt support throughout the process, and delivered a platform for the Council to seek tenders from a number of suppliers experienced in [the transport technology] sector.”

In addition to guidance and support from CCS, you can learn about what other towns and cities are doing and share best practice using the Intelligent Transport Society (ITS (UK)) interest groups. The groups cover topics such as local authority/urban, smart environment and public transport, plus many more.

An ITS (UK) Executive Member said:

“The use of CCS frameworks helps reduce the time and resources taken to procure a service as there is no need to identify and select suppliers. Call-off agreements have already been prepared for you to use and access to a catalogue service allows for ad-hoc requirements to be met easily.  As an end user it enables the delivery of a service to be achieved quicker and more cost effectively, which is often a benefit to the public whom we serve, whilst maintaining a fair, open and transparent procurement process. It should be every local authority’s first port of call.”

CCS are committed to ensuring you save time and money on buying transport technology, as well as the other everyday goods and services you need. Work has begun on our new transport commercial agreement and we’ll seek views on our design summer 2019. Please track our progress using our dedicated web page and take the opportunity to get involved!

For further information

To find out more about our new transport commercial agreement, you can:

View the commercial agreement page

Complete this online form stating your requirements

Call us on 0345 410 2222

And the award goes to..

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) financial services team received recognition as one of the top 10 deals of the year at the Trade Finance Awards 2019. The event was well attended by many international financial intermediaries and trade press. The award is for our work with NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) through the Supplier Early Payment Solutions (SEPS) framework. This allows pharmacists delivering prescription services in the UK to be paid earlier than their contractual payments terms, releasing much-needed working capital and supporting the delivery of key public services.

It is extremely rewarding being recognised by the trade finance market along with other winners on the night including leading international financial institutions such as BNPPHSBC and Santander. There was also recognition for UK Export Finance and their work in the trade finance arena.

Financial services team photo

We have been able to offer NHS BSA a market leading commercial model to allow their key pharmacy supplier base to bepaid early, securing access to local community pharmacies for taxpayers nationwide. Through our collaborative approach with NHS BSA, we are able to offer a significant specification improvement at zero cost to them. This is helping generate recognition for the Pharmacy Early Payment Programme (PEPS) and the important low-cost liquidity it offers to those organisations delivering frontline services.

It has been a successful award season for us with awards from Supply Chain Finance (SCF) Briefing (Best European SCFProgramme) and the Global Trade Review. Our success would not have been possible without the support of our supplier Taulia, their capital provider Greensill and our colleagues at NHS BSA. CCS have truly delivered a market leading commercial solution and have worked closely with our customers to ensure they could not be happier with the service and support we offer.  We will continue the positive momentum and make the next award season even better.

Want to know more?

If you have a specific question, get in touch and speak to one of our experts today or visit our website for further information around our SEPS framework

Spring forward, fall back – getting your facilities ready for Autumn

The great British weather…from basking in glorious sunshine to flash flooding, thunderstorms and lightning, all in 1 week.  And although we’re not wishing the summer away, it won’t be long the days start to shorten and the beautiful Autumn colours arrive. 

 We understand that facilities managers face daily challenges in ensuring your sites are kept to a high standard. So whilst we can’t control the weather, we can help you plan for seasonal activities, limiting potential autumn threats to ensure that your sites’ facilities are taken care of. 

Check out our top tips to help protect your property this Autumn 

  • Roofs and gutters

Can your roof withstand our ever changing climate? From high temperatures to heavy rain, make sure your roof is well weathered. Now is the perfect time to check your roof for any loose tiles or slates. Look at your gutters and clear out any debris or leaves which might affect water drainage. 

  • Heating & Draught-proofing

The great British summer doesn’t last long and nobody wants to be cold.  Get your boiler ready for winter. Well maintained boiler burns less fuel – save money and avoid any breakdowns by getting your boiler inspected and serviced.  

Do you have back-up power and emergency generators? No-one can predict the UK weather and power cuts. Having a standby generator provides backup power protection during an outage.  Different sizes are available to either back up essential circuits or complete coverage for your business. Whether it’s for lighting, computers, heating or security, it’s important to have a back-up power plan in place.

  • Lighting

As our natural daylight reduces, check that you have sufficient outside lights to keep your property well lit. Have you maintained your street lighting? Light levels can decrease due to dirt so keep your fixtures cleaned on a regular basis.

Equally, make sure your indoor lighting is ready for autumn. Lighting isn’t just essential for the obvious reasons but can also contribute to a business’s energy costs. Convert traditional light-bulbs to energy efficient lighting and control usage through automated lighting in your building. 

CCS Facilities Management

  • Security

With longer nights, keeping your buildings and occupants safe is essential. Make sure your security protections are in place. From mobile security, remote monitoring, manned guarding and technology solutions, there’s lots of ways to ensure you have the most effective security solutions.

  • Ground maintenance

Don’t wait until Autumn to put your ground maintenance programme in place.  When leaves start to drop, paved areas can become slippery with leaf algae and mould – use a high pressure washer to keep your paths clear. Trim trees to get rid of any dead branches, prune back hedges and tidy borders. It’s not a jungle out there. 

And although we can’t think of winter just yet, check your supplies of rock salt for gritting paths when the weather starts to freeze. 

Find out how our team can help today.

We can help you save time and money on everything from maintenance to waste management, cleaning to catering services, and mechanical to electrical services. 

Our FM frameworks provide access to a wide range of specialist suppliers, offering you more choice without compromising on quality. And with our regional lot structure, you can procure services locally and tailor your contracts to match your social value priorities. 

Whether you require a single year contract or a call of contract let for up to 10 years, we can help you drive real value for money for your organisation. 

If you would like to find out more about any of the CCS facilities management solutions and how they can support you please get in touch and quote ‘FM’.

Eye care: the benefit that pays for itself

This article explores the importance of eye care provision for public sector employers and staff alike, and explains how CCS can help. 

The importance of regular eye tests

An eye examination can do far more than just test visual capabilities. It enables the optician to check the health of the eyes for conditions like glaucoma and cataracts. It also allows them to examine the small blood vessels at the back of the eye. This can aid in the detection of serious health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, tumours and high blood pressure. 

Wellbeing for staff

The early detection of serious health conditions obviously has huge implications for the health and wellbeing of staff. Less serious issues like migraines, headaches and dry eyes can, however, also be detrimental to an employee’s performance at work. By treating such problems, eye care can help improve productivity at work. Research shows that employers believe improved health and wellbeing and productivity are the biggest advantages of workplace eye care. This is stated by 42% and 37% respectively*. 

Obligations as an employer

Under health and safety regulations covering Display Screen Equipment (DSE), employers are required to provide eye care for all screen users. In the modern workplace this is likely to include the vast majority of employees. Under the rulings, employers must offer organisation funded eye tests and glasses, if required solely for screen use.  

Eye care as a benefit

Regardless of whether your employees’ fall under the various health and safety criteria for requiring workplace eye care, it can be of great advantage to all. It can also be a valued employee benefit. 

Although organisations may understand that eye care can assess the optical health of their employees, few are aware of the wider health issues that can be picked up.  

How CCS can help

If you would like to review your organisation’s eye care provision or set up a service for your employees our Occupational Health Services, Employee Assistance Programmes and Eye Care Services framework can help you: 

 

*Research conducted on behalf of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare by Opinium from 17 to 26 July 2018 among a sample of 507 HR decision makers across the UK.

How can modular help address the housing crisis

Modular construction will have considerable impact on the housing sector in the next few years. With a shortage of labour and rise in cost of materials, modular housing is not only cheaper to build, but can take up to half the time of traditional construction methods. And with the shift in trend moving towards the use of greener materials in construction, modular buildings help minimise waste whilst utilising recycled and sustainable materials.

Modular is by no means a new form of construction. 

After the second World War, modular construction emerged in the 1950’s as a quick way to build homes. With many houses either damaged or destroyed, modular construction provided a quick alternative to solve the housing crisis. Although this was planned as a temporary measure, many of these houses are still being lived in today. 

So for many, when we hear the term modular, this often conjures up images of pre-fabricated homes, erected to address the post second World War housing shortage.

CCS Modular Buildings

Building a more affordable future – the next generation of housing

Today’s modular homes use construction methods which are more sustainable than traditional methods. Not only are they cheaper, greener and easier to build, but with eco features such as solar panels and ground source heating, they have added benefits in being environmentally friendly and cheaper to run. 

Tackling the UK housing shortage

As the UK faces challenges of housing shortages, modular will play a crucial role with the potential to ease the housing crisis; providing new builds which are quick to build and more importantly, affordable. 

The housing sector is set to change. With huge demands on housing, traditional building methods will not be enough to meet demand. The uptake of modern construction methods are rising with the main benefits being high quality, reliable, energy efficiency and affordability. 

And with many councils investing in modular, this form of construction could provide the solution to the growing social housing waiting list. From the first pop up village in London, created to house homeless families, to regeneration schemes in Manchester, modular is set to be the home of the future. 

Our Modular Building Solutions framework is now live, developed to provide the housing sector with a low cost solution to their building requirements.

Next steps:

For more information, please visit the web page or use our contact form to get in touch with our modular experts quoting “Modular” in the comments box.

Vehicle lease, fleet management and flexible rental solutions launches to support public sector fleets

The CCS Fleet team are pleased to announce the launch of our new agreement for vehicle lease, fleet management and flexible rental solutions, building on the successes of the previous agreements and widening the scope of suppliers available.

You can continue to support social value and localism through your fleet management, contract hire and flexible rental solutions by working with the suppliers in a way that suits you. You can opt for supply and after sales services from your suitable local dealership or build in added value features into your Call Off contract.

There is a wide range of vehicles available from cars, 4x4s and motorcycles to vans, light and heavy commercial vehicles, minibuses and coaches. Availability of electric, alternatively fuelled and other ultra-low emission vehicles too. The framework includes everything from standard production vehicles and their options, to specialist modified or fully converted vehicles.

Opt for standard contract hire and lease management, or choose more enhanced fleet management services in a “sole supply” arrangement. Vehicles can be accessed for either operational purposes or as part of an employee benefits scheme, with convenient financial options to suit every need.

This new framework offers you the ability to lease a range of vehicles for 2 years or more, access to fleet management services and options for vehicles hired for 28 days or more, known as flexible rental

What is Flexible Rental?

Flexible rental describes a way in which you can acquire vehicles and use them within a fleet. In essence, it is the hiring of a vehicle with more flexible terms

Flexible rental offers solutions from 28-days and more, all the way up to 2-years plus. This solution can, therefore, be used to bridge the gap between vehicles taken onto the fleet for longer periods of time, and those spot-hired for short periods. 

What are the benefits of using the new framework?

  • Competitive Discounts: Using an average market rate comparator, CCS discounts are currently 11.3% better than the average of the top 10 leasing companies in the market.
  • Direct Award: Customers can make a direct award for standard cars and light commercial vehicles via the Fleet Portal.
  • Online Fleet Portal: Obtain real-time quotations and a full breakdown of costs allowing you to compare options and whole life costs.
  • Local Dealer options: Option to use a local dealership for delivery, supporting SMEs
  • Environmental & Social Value: Access vehicles of all fuel trains to make available ultra-low emission vehicles, helping you achieve air quality targets.

Total Fleet Solutions

Our fleet solutions cover the purchase, lease and hire of a wide range of vehicles in fuel trains of all types This is supported by a range of additional services including vehicle conversions, fleet management and maintenance, tyres and telematics. This helps fleet managers cover the whole vehicle life cycle from vehicle hire to fuel cards and insurance to traffic management technology solutions – we have got all of your fleet needs covered, however big or small.

If you would like to find out more about any of the CCS fleet solutions and how they can support you please get in touch and quote ‘flexible rental’.

Alternatively, if you would like to find out more about what we are doing to support public sector fleets download our whitepaper.

To register for access to the CCS Fleet portal follow the link below: https://fleetportal.crowncommercial.gov.uk/

Driving innovation through contact centres

The way citizens want to access and interact with public services continues to evolve at pace. The growing use of digital solutions and the ever changing social media landscape is increasing the many touch points in people’s lives – and changing the way people want to communicate.

It is more important than ever to collaborate to ensure we provide the best possible contact centre solutions for public sector organisations, we plan on doing this by sharing our learnings.

To support this we host customer forums, giving you the opportunity to network with your peers, share best practices, hear from suppliers and customer guest speakers to understand the art of the possible in this fast moving environment.

Latest from our customer forum

Our latest Public Sector Customer Forum took place in May 2019 with the theme of ‘The Customer Journey – Mapping, Optimising, Mobilisation’. The feedback we got on the day was great, with many quoting that it was a brilliant learning opportunity with a mechanism to network and build relationships across the public sector.

The next forum is being planned for September/October in central London.

If you are reviewing your contact centre requirements and would like to learn more about the current possibilities, our customer forum event is ideal for you. See below to reserve your place now.

What our customers say

‘The opportunity to learn from others, listen to real case study presentations and network with other government departments.’

‘To share issues and ideas, discuss innovation and share best practice.’

‘Really helped understanding of all aspects of the journey with a real willingness to share and support across departments.’

What our suppliers say

‘The Contact Centre Customer Forums have proven to be a perfect format with an excellent mix of presentations, networking opportunities and open discussion around key topics with learning for all. ‘

 

Get in touch

If you would like to reserve a place at the next customer forum, please get in touch quoting ‘contact centres’ in the comments box to register your interest.

You can also learn more about the framework by visiting the framework page.

The benefits of a managed service for your school’s temporary staff needs

Did you know there is a way to have a relationship with a single supplier for all of your agency supply needs? This month, Miranda Broadley from the CCS supply teachers team discusses what a managed service is and how your school or multi-academy trust can benefit.

Let’s start with what is a managed service and then I’ll help you explore if it could it be right for you. 

Put simply, a managed service means a single supplier manages several temporary staffing agencies on your behalf, so you only have to go to one place to go to find a worker. 

What a managed service provider does

All managed service providers will do the following things for you:

  • Be a single point of contact. This means your school or multi-academy trust (MAT) only has to go to one place to find a worker instead of ringing multiple agencies.
  • Provide structured information and reporting. You will get regular reporting on the agency workforce provided to your school or MAT. This will help you budget for costs and manage workforce planning.  
  • Market intelligence. You can get benchmarking information and market intelligence.
  • Negotiate with agencies. Your managed service provider will negotiate with agencies regarding the mark-up element they charge you.  
  • Compliance. The managed service provider will be accountable for all of the compliance of the workers they provide to you, giving you peace of mind.
  • Accuracy of all charges. Managed service providers often use a technology system called a vendor management system (VMS). This ensures that charges are accurate and timesheets aren’t duplicated.
  • Audits of agencies. Managed service providers audit the agencies for you to ensure adherence to the contract terms.
  • Handling all invoices. Managed service providers can consolidate billing for you. This means you can move from having one timesheet and invoice per worker per week, to one consolidated weekly or monthly bill, depending on your needs. This will greatly reduce the time you need to spend processing paperwork.
  • Tiering of agencies based on performance. You can add agencies to your roster and track how well they are performing and ensure that agencies that perform best get more chances of filling a role, keeping them incentivised to work hard for you.
  • Management of the temporary workforce. Need to discuss a worker matter? You only have one place to go: your managed service provider. 

How does it work?

You would contact the managed service provider with details of the role you have available and they would fill it.

The CCS supply teachers deal offers a choice of two different kinds of managed service providers – master vendors (lot 2), and neutral vendors (lot 3).  

A master vendor first looks for candidates themselves. If they can’t fill the role for you, they then send the role on to other agencies to fill. A neutral vendor sends the role straight on to their roster of agencies to fill.   

How do you know if a managed service is right for you?

If your school, group of schools or MAT spends a lot on supply staff – typically upwards of £500,000 a year – then a managed service might suit you.  

That being said, there isn’t a minimum spend threshold before you can access a managed service provider, so if your spend is less and you feel it could be the right option for you, please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

If you are unsure about choosing a managed service straightaway, there is also the opportunity to use the framework’s preferred supplier list through lot 1 and transition to a managed service solution at a later date. 

If you choose the managed service option, you will still benefit from all the other features of the supply teachers deal. These include robust background checks on workers, free temp-to-perm transfers after 12 weeks subject to 4 weeks’ notice and bespoke management information on your spend. And as you’d expect, you’ll be able to access the same trusted support from the CCS team whenever you need it.

Getting started

If you want to go down the master vendor route, we advise running a further competition (also sometimes referred to as a mini competition) through lot 2. We’re on hand to support you throughout the process. 

The further competition process will help you establish what is important to you and tailor the requirement to meet your needs before you invite suppliers to bid. This may result in suppliers offering you more competitive rates. 

Alternatively, if you want a neutral vendor managed service, you can directly award without a further competition as there is only one supplier on lot 3.  

Once you have appointed a supplier, it will take on average 12-16 weeks to get set up. We can support you with the roll out across your schools/academies.

Next steps

If you would like to discuss the managed service option in more detail please call us on 0345 410 2222. 

You can also fill in our online form or email info@crowncommercial.gov.uk mentioning ‘managed service solutions for supply teachers’ in the comments box or subject line. 

View full details of the supply teachers deal

Sustainability and the transformation of university estates

Our world is becoming more focussed on construction which is sustainable, energy efficient and compliant. With the shift in trend moving towards the use of greener materials in construction, modular buildings help minimise waste whilst utilising recycled and sustainable materials. And with environmental issues high on the student’s agenda, building in this way also enhances the university’s reputation as being ecologically friendly.

Modular construction is less costly than a traditional build, with typical savings around 50%. This is because this type of construction is faster and less labour intensive. As the majority of the build takes place off site, the project time is sped up by avoiding delays due to bad weather. This also has the advantage of having fewer materials on site, reducing construction hazards and resulting in minimal disruption to campus life.

Flexibility to suit your needs

With growth demands in both staff and student numbers, modular buildings provide the ideal solution. Whether the need is increasing classroom sizes, expanding existing libraries/rooms or building more student accommodation, modular addresses a variety of requirements.  And with bespoke options tailored to your specifications, modular is flexible to meet the increasing demands of any campus.

Key benefits of modular buildings

  • Financial savings – cheaper to build
  • Lower to run as more energy efficient
  • Adaptable – suitable for a wide range of purposes
  • Sustainable and eco-friendly
  • Speed – half the time of traditional construction build
  • Minimal disruption whilst being built

Our new Modular Building Solutions framework is now live, developed to provide the education sector with a low cost solution to their building requirements.

A total of 24 suppliers, 80% of which are small or medium-sized enterprises, have been chosen to deliver the framework; giving access to the latest in supplier innovation and development.

Next steps:

For more information, please visit the web page or use our contact form to get in touch with our modular experts quoting “Modular” in the comments box. 

Digital Buying Community – what we’ve learnt so far and what’s to come

A couple of weeks ago, we held our 5th meet up of the Digital Buying Community for public and third sector buyers of all things digital. This time we changed the location and took the community up north to Manchester.

We had around 60 people in the room, with 80% new to these meetups. It was great to see so many new faces, and to provide a platform for buyers to share their digital journey, including current struggles or concerns, with us at CCS and with each other.

Now, we’re back to work on our next one and I wanted to reflect on a few things we’ve learnt so far to give you some insights into this growing community and share the details of the 6th meet up with you.

The power of a community

The Digital Buying Community meet ups provide an honest place where buyers can be heard and network with each other – feedback shows having direct access to others sharing the same journey is invaluable. We have met so many buyers who want to make a positive change, they want to provide the best possible services for citizens and save money for the nation which is inspiring to see.

We, at CCS, are keen to continuously improve our support to digital buyers, so a community can provide a safe environment where we can interact with you, listen to your needs and provide the best advice when using our agreements. It is also nice to put a face to a name and understand the landscape of your technology/IT strategy!

Empathy is different from sympathy

Empathy enables me to put myself in your particular situation, understand your feelings and be able to provide a solution from my perspective. I do not buy under my framework, but I need to feel like our buyers to be able to empathise and share their journey.

Through the Digital Buying Community, I am given the opportunity to listen and not provide a ‘sugar-coated’ response, but support buyers’ journeys and help achieve the best outcomes possible.

A common problem – a common solution

A community is born where there is a common problem or challenge. When buyers understand that there is a group of others going through the same challenges (governance, approvals, etc.), it is from there that a community can be successful. This community has shown me the importance of finding that common denominator between our buyers and providing solutions for it.

The community is not ours

The community belongs to the buyers. This was set up for you and so it’s important we listen to your feedback: what topics you want to know more about, which speakers you’d like to hear from, the format and the location. So please always take the opportunity to get involved involved with your suggestions for future meet ups.

The next Digital Buying Community meet up

Our 6th Digital Buying Community meet up will take place on 6th August at CCS’ London office at 151 Buckingham Palace Road.

As always, we have taken on board your feedback from previous events about the topics you’d like to discuss and have shaped the agenda around your requests. Our CEO, Simon Tse, will be introducing the event along with a host of speakers throughout the day. We will be discussing a variety of topics including:

  • Agile requirements – a supplier and buyer view
  • Assessment methods – best practices and templates
  • Detailed guidance for a successful pre-tender market engagement
  • Feedback on supplier bids – what should we be doing? Best practices and templates
  • Choosing a route to market – the questions you need to ask yourself
  • Wellbeing and managing internal customers

If you’d like to attend and join the Digital Buying Community, please sign up today.

I look forward to seeing you there.

New Logistics & Warehousing commercial agreement from CCS

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Document Management and Logistics Category Team (DML), in partnership with YPO, are delighted to announce that in response to customer demand we are seeking to develop a Logistics & Warehousing commercial agreement.

This exciting development will be the first-ever cross public sector agreement in this marketplace.  We have issued a PIN notice to commence engagement with the market to understand the offerings, developments and future innovations and we are now reaching out to our colleagues within the Wider Public Sector and Central Government to ensure we design and deliver solutions that meet both your current and future needs.

Get involved

Our ask of you is that you join us right from the beginning of this process to help shape the design and scope of this agreement.  Regardless of the size or scale of your storage and distribution needs, we would highly value your input into:

  • The development of a fit for purpose, robust, commercially viable and highly competitive agreement that is suitable for all
  • Capturing the wealth of knowledge and experience of this market, and help us identify where we can learn from past experiences
  • The optimisation of commercial benefits that can be realised through a robust specification of requirements

By listening to your needs and combining a mix of suppliers that drive competition, our commercial agreement is intended to offer value for money whilst ensuring you have a fully EU compliant route to market.  As such we invite you to our initial engagement forums so that we can jointly shape this unique commercial agreement.

The dates for the forums are:

  • Thursday 11th July

Other dates and venues will be released shortly.

These will be hosted at Crown Commercial Service, 8th Floor, The Capital, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9PP

Get started

To register for a place at one of the forums, or if you have any questions, please contact us via:

Fill in this online form quoting ‘engagement forums’

To find out more about this procurement, visit:

https://www.crowncommercial.gov.uk/agreements/RM6074?

Email logisticsandwarehousing@crowncommercial.gov.uk

Call 0345 410 2222

Learn about the supply teachers deal at your local SBP network

It’s 9 months since the supply teachers deal went live and we have been busy attending events across the country to talk to schools and academies about the deal and how to access it.

From exhibiting at large events such as the Schools & Academies Show and EdExec to presenting at local school business professional (SBP) networks, we have been keen to meet as many of you as possible.

We want to introduce you to the deal, show you how it can help you and how to use it, but most importantly we want to:

  • Empower you to confidently make changes to how you source temporary staff and challenge the status quo with agencies
  • Help you manage your budget more effectively in this complex area, so that you can redirect savings to the areas in your schools where it is most needed.

Why attend a workshop?

Here’s what two of the SBP network leaders have said about our sessions:

CCS’ visit to our local primary SBP network proved invaluable. Jenny explained the supply teacher deal to us, which will in time save a lot of our schools a vast amount of money. Having the knowledge that we have the service to hand is extremely reassuring.”

Lesley Burton, Bradford SBM network 

“It was a very interesting session and provoked many questions with regards to how mark-ups from agencies differ and how schools can use this deal to gain both confidence when negotiating with agencies and budget savings.

Our own network will now be looking into collaborative working, to bring together a discounted supply offer for schools in the city. Jenny and her team will be working with us in the coming months to put this offer together, which will be a great help.

It was reassuring to know that moving forward, schools have both a contact and continued support from CCS.

We are hoping to arrange further sessions for schools in the new academic year and I would highly recommend other schools to engage in future sessions.”

Jo Coombe, Leicester Primary Business Managers forum

Join a network event in June

We will be at several events this month and it’s not too late to sign up:

Date     EventLocation
11 JuneYorkshire Multi Academy Procurement Network GroupHeckmondwike Grammar School, High Street, Heckmondwike, WF16 0AH
12 JuneEdExec Live London30 Euston Square, London Book a place
19 JuneKirklees SBM NetworkThe Textile Centre of Excellence, Red Doles Lane, Huddersfield, HD2 1YF
21 JuneWorcester SBM NetworkTBA
26 JuneSouthwark Diocesan Board of Education48 Union Street, London, SE1 1TD
26 JuneDurham SBM GroupEducation Development Centre, Spennymoor, County Durham

Contact the local network chair for more information about the event you’d like to attend. You can find out more about DfE’s SBP networks and contact details on GOV.UK.

Future events

If you would like to arrange a presentation or workshop in your local area please get in touch – we’re here to help:

Complete this online form stating ‘supply teachers workshop’ in the comments box or call us on 0345 410 2222.

You can also find out more about the deal on this web page.

Benefits of following CCS on LinkedIn channel

Following companies on LinkedIn is an easy way to stay in the loop regarding what’s going on behind the doors of a company you’d like to do business with.

We know that you’re pressed for time. So, what can you do to stay updated on the latest industry news? Well, by following CCS on LinkedIn you get a whole lot of useful news and latest updates all in one place – and we have a lot to share with you!

What will you get if you follow us on Linkedin?

  • Track updates and developments on our wide range of commercial agreements, finding out about how they could benefit your organisation and help save you time and money
  • Make sure you don’t miss out on the growing number of events and webinars organised every month by our expert category teams and specialist suppliers
  • Get the latest industry news, press releases, notices and awards instantly as we update our LinkedIn page daily
  • Get access to our recently published content and advice including blog posts, case studies, whitepapers and introductory videos
  • Learn more about our organisation through affiliated pages; who we are, our partners, our products and services, and job opportunities, finding the best solutions to suit your organisational needs
  • Build a partnership with CCS and collaborate with us directly, identifying ways to work together and finding out how we can focus on your priorities and areas where you need support
  • Be heard and have your opinion counted through polls or surveys which we run throughout the year, including getting involved in developing or improving our products which matter to you
  • Take a sneak peek into our company culture, finding more about our teams and how we work to facilitate the best solutions for you

Examples of our recent LinkedIn posts

There are lots of different types of content you can access on our company page – case studies, blogs, upcoming webinars invites, agreements updates, and more:

SARS social media post - CCS
Travel whitepaper social media post - CCS
Procurement awards 19/20 social media post - CCS
Digital buying community social media post - CCS
New website launch social media post - CCS

How to Follow our CCS Company page on LinkedIn

On the Linked platform, search for “Crown Commercial Service” and click “follow”…it’s that simple! So why not follow Crown Commercial Service today and enjoy the benefits?

To find out more and to start following us on LinkedIn today visit CCS LinkedIn page

Be prepared and ready for the launch of our apprenticeship training marketplace

We have a number of customer webinars this month, as well as a useful checklist and tutorial film to ensure you’re in the best position for the launch of our new Apprenticeship Training Dynamic Marketplace

We have had a great response from potential suppliers and we are now going through the process of getting as many approved as possible and making them live and available on the system.

The marketplace is being developed to make access to ESFA registered apprenticeship training providers quick and simple. We’ve designed it so we can add new apprenticeship standards as they are launched, new training offers can be updated at any time, and new suppliers can sign up as they become ESFA registered.

Want to be ready and prepared for our apprenticeship agreement?

We’ve pulled together a number of different resources below to help you and your organisation be fully prepared and ready for go live:  

  • Join a Webinar in May – Gives you the opportunity to learn more about the agreement and how to access as the buyer. The webinars are FREE and you can sign up here
  • Watch our tutorial film – We’ve developed a quick video guide on how to access the DPS and how to buy through the framework – Watch it here
  • Customer Readiness Checklist – Use this checklist to make sure your organisation is ready to use the Apprenticeship Training Marketplace procurement solution. Download it here
  • Get ready and sign up to the platform now – To save time now, why not sign up to the platform and be one of the first to use it – Click here to sign up now

If you would like to be notified of further webinars on how to get the best out of the platform please get in touch stating ‘Apprenticeship Training Dynamic Marketplace’ in the comments box

Apprenticeship

Spend Analysis: recovering your money

You may have recently seen in the news, reports of errors or incorrect payments being made by local authorities/councils in Scotland, which could add up to large amounts of money being lost for those public bodies.

Incorrect payments can happen in any organisation. In fact, it is estimated that around 1% of transactions (invoices and payments) contain some form of error. Although some of these may be picked up through internal processes, the more complex errors are often not identified resulting in losses for your organisation – and this can quickly add up to a significant figure.  There is a solution!

Using our extensive knowledge of the market and suppliers, we’ve developed a framework called Spend Analysis and Recovery Services 2 that will do all the legwork to identify if you have been incorrectly charged or have overpaid for services (up to six years after an error has occurred).

Our framework suppliers have industry specialists who will analyse your spend data and identify over payments and duplicates etc. Depending on the level and detail you require, they can also analyse your contracts to ensure you have been receiving the required benefits and discounts associated. All findings are reported to you and you can then authorise the SARS supplier to initiate the recovery process. These monies are recovered directly to you and only then will you pay a fee to your supplier of choice.

What’s more there’s no upfront costs and is no win, no fee – It can have significant financial rewards for your organisation.

Want to know more?
Watch our recent webinar that looked at what spend analysis is and included an example from the U.S. where the Government has mandated the recovery process . Also there is a view from Nigel Rudyard from the Department for Education on the importance of spend analysis for schools and how contract management can help reduce errors.

If you have a specific question, get in touch and speak to one of our experts today.

Visit our agreement page for more info.

Switching tracks for business travel – our guide to changing suppliers

Switch travel agreement - CCS

If your travel agreement is coming to an end soon, or you don’t currently have one in place, now’s the time for you to consider your options going forward.

At Crown Commercial Service, we can help you plan a smooth transfer onto our Public Sector Travel and Venue Solutions (PSTVS) commercial agreement. If you’re short on time, here are a few pointers to help you switch to your new agreement as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Why switch?

The benefits available to you under PSTVS include:

  • Access to a mix of approved suppliers to suit your needs, in a way that is compliant with the Public Contract Regulations
  • Low or no booking fees
  • Access to our negotiated programmes for air and accommodation leveraging c£700m travel spend.
  • Savings estimated at 13% independently benchmarked vs the market
  • Price match promise

What do I need to think about when planning to switch?

When does your travel agreement end?

Think about how much time you have left on your current agreement, and what timescales you need to work towards to put a new one in place.  

For large complex implementations, we usually recommend 8-12 weeks to fully transfer from your old supplier to your new one(s), once you have chosen them.  You should also account for the time needed to complete your internal approvals process when planning your transition.

If your existing agreement ends before this process would be completed, you have the following options to move quicker:

  • Direct award ASAP (including for solution 4 wherever possible)
  • Consider remaining with your incumbent, if they are party to PSTVS
  • Consider individual implementation timescales when picking a supplier, these can be shortened in some cases, if your requirement is straightforward.

What internal governance do you need to undertake before awarding your new agreement?

PSTVS includes a provision for direct award across all Solutions in a way that is compliant with the Public Contract Regulations, so ideally you should look to use this option wherever possible to save time, cost and resource (potentially reducing your timescales by up to a month).  

Find out what governance process your organisation requires you to follow to use a direct award – it may be a simple value-for money assessment, you may choose to ask the suppliers for demonstrations of their booking tools, or you may have a different process to follow.

For solution 4, we recommend that you only undertake a further competition if you need a supplier to develop proposals or a solution for your bespoke service requirements not included in the specification of requirements; and/or you need to amend or refine the agreement terms to reflect your requirements (to the extent permitted by the Regulations).

Does your requirement match the specification for one or more PSTVS Solutions?

For solution 4, we recommend that you use direct award where your service requirements are met by the specification.  Solutions 1, 2, 3 and 5 are single supplier agreements, so you must direct award under these solutions.

For solution 4, there are three suppliers but you also have the choice to direct award.  The transaction fees chargeable under Solution 4 are market-leading, meaning they are unlikely to be reduced further through a competition.  PSTVS also gives you the flexibility to mix and match the various Solutions to best suit your needs.

If you have any requirements that are not in the specification, consider whether you could amend your requirements slightly to avoid the need to run a competition (and potentially save you money), e.g. whether everything you are currently asking for is truly necessary, or simply a “nice to have”.  

Is your incumbent supplier on Public Sector Travel & Venue Solutions?

If you’re happy with the service you received from your current supplier, and they are on PSTVS, you could consider doing a short-term enabling agreement (up to one year) via direct award to ensure continuity of service, giving you more time to fully develop and plan your longer-term service provision.

Want to find out more?

Get in touch to discuss how we can help you transfer to our PSTVS agreement:

Email us travel@crowncommercialservice.gov.uk

Call us today 0345 410 2222

Visit our agreement page to find more info

Follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter

6 top tips to help you get the most from the supply teachers deal

Since the supply teachers deal was launched we’ve been talking to lots of schools and academies, providing advice and guidance. In this blog I have pulled together 6 tips to answer the questions that come up most often about the supply teachers deal and the agency selection tool.

I hope that these pointers will help you confidently source temporary workers and deal with supply agencies.

  1. How do you transfer a temporary worker to a permanent employee contract without incurring any extra costs?

So long as you give 4 weeks’ notice and the temporary worker has worked a minimum of 12 weeks then transferring them to a permanent employee contract is free of charge. That means there’s no finder’s fees to pay the agency.

Top tip: give notice to your agency supplier during week 8. This means by the end of the 12 week period you’ll be able to take the worker on permanently free of charge. But do bear in mind when calculating the 12 weeks, that mid and end of term breaks have the ‘clock’ paused.

  1. How do I check if one of my preferred agencies is on the deal?

We now have 120 suppliers who have been audited and accredited to the best practice standards in education recruitment on the deal. With national coverage you’re never too far away from a local office! There’s an A-Z list of suppliers on the framework page and using our digital agency selection tool you can quickly find all the agencies local to your school in a few simple steps. Have your DfE sign-in handy and follow this link to access the online agency selection tool.

Top tip: if you can’t find the agency you’re looking for on the agency selection tool try widening your search radius.

  1. Did you know the mark-up percentages shown on the digital agency selection tool are maximum rates?

The agency mark-up percentages you see are the maximum the agency will charge, so make sure you negotiate with suppliers to get the best rate you can.

Top tip: if a worker is being paid the same amount from two agencies, the agency with the lower mark-up percentage (that’s applied on top of the worker pay and pay-related on-costs) will always give you a lower total bill.

  1. Remember, all suppliers on the agreement are obliged to tell you that they are part of the deal and offer you CCS terms first.

If you know that a supplier is on the agreement and they haven’t offered you the standard CCS terms and conditions ask for them. If you’re unsure always ask the question.

Top tip: using the supply teachers deal doesn’t just mean better rates and cost effective supply. You will also have the peace of mind that your chosen supplier has been through robust checks and the worker you are getting has been fully vetted to ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ standards. To ensure you’re getting all of these benefits, fill in the the short order form – this only needs to be done once, at the start of your agreement with the supplier. You’ll find the form on the documents section of the framework page. 

  1. Did you know that if you know a worker you want to hire and refer them to an agency the mark-up percentage they charge will be considerably lower?

If you know a worker who isn’t signed up with an agency on the agreement and you want to hire them temporarily you can do this. This is often referred to by agencies as a nominated worker. You can ask an agency to put the worker on their books. Once the worker has signed up with the agency, you then have peace of mind that their pay and background screening checks are being taken care of. And of course, after 12 weeks (and 4 weeks’ notice) you can take them on permanently without paying any extra fees if you want to do so.

Top tip: mark-up percentages for nominated workers can be up to half the amount of a worker provided by the agency. This is a cost saving tip worth keeping in mind!

  1. Don’t forget, the agreement isn’t just for teachers.

Most roles that you will need to fill in your school are covered by the deal including admin staff, cleaners, teaching assistants and more. If it’s a role in an educational establishment, it’s highly likely it will be covered.

Top tip: different roles have different mark-ups so keep an eye on the mark-up percentages when you’re looking for temporary staff. It’s also worth noting that if you change the worker’s role during their temporary assignment, the 12 week temp-to-perm clock could start again. Speak to your agency to check and forward plan if you want to change somebody’s role so you can do it free of charge at the earliest possible moment.

‘Thanks to the guidance from Tom at CCS I felt confident negotiating with an agency and was thrilled to be able to bring the fee down significantly. The original fee was £4,500 and we were able to reduce this to £1,723 – saving over 60%. This meant we could bring the employee on sooner and not lose them. We will definitely use the agency supply deal in the future when employing supply teaching staff’

Margaret Dempsey, Business Manager, Lampton School, Hounslow

We’re here to help

Our team of subject-matter experts are here to support you every step of the way. Call us on 0345 410 2222 or email info@crowncommercial.gov.uk for advice on any matter relating to the supply teachers agreement and agency selection tool.

You can also watch our short film to help you get started.

Ready to start your agency search?

Sign-in to the agency selection tool

 

Finding the healthiest solutions for your temporary construction needs

We understand there is a balance between enhancing and future proofing your estate, meeting demands on space, and keeping costs to a minimum and avoiding disruption to the delivery of services.

Modular building solutions is a direction that the health sector are increasingly taking to address these issues, especially for temporary capacity demands during winter months, when there simply aren’t enough essential facilities, such as theatres and wards, to treat patients: particularly the elderly and the vulnerable who can fall ill in the cold weather.

Speed, safety and cost

Modular building solutions offer a number of advantages over and above ‘traditional’ build solutions.

It generally offers a construction period that can be significantly shorter than the traditional build approach, as site works (for example foundations and service installations) can be constructed on site while the modular buildings are being fabricated and constructed off-site, before being delivered to site for installation and commissioning. This approach can deliver a significant reduction in the construction period – and with it a reduction in the associated costs.

What’s more, as a significant proportion of the construction works is undertaken off-site in a cleaner and more controlled environment, the overall project build benefits from improved safety and quality – with less risk.

Saving time in construction, and having a very specific design life, modular buildings therefore often provide the lowest cost solution for your bespoke needs.

We have now awarded our new Modular Buildings Solutions framework which has been developed to provide public sector buyers with a low-cost solution to their temporary and semi-permanent modular buildings needs. The agreement provides access to 24 suppliers, 80% of which are SMEs, and with that comes access to the very latest in supplier innovation and developments.

There are 2 bespoke lots on the framework purely dedicated to the health sector: one lot for purchase and another lot for hire.

So, if you’re looking to avoid a winter crisis, and need a compliant, and quick and cost efficient solution, or want to explore your flexible, longer term solutions that are bespoke to your needs, find out more.

Next Steps

To find out more about the Modular Buildings Solutions framework, you can visit our web page, or if you have a specific question simply complete our form and one of our experts will contact you.

Transform your space with Fit Out

Do you need to renovate and refurbish your existing or new office space?

The latest Fit Out agreement (RM6073) is now available providing services for design, renovation and refurbishment of new and existing buildings. Its’ purpose is to support the modernisation and rationalisation of the Government Estate.

What is Fit Out?

Fit out and refurbishment is the process of developing new interior spaces or existing spaces to support new and more efficient ways of working. The wider public sector have the ability to create agile or activity based working following a construction phase, acquisition of a new property or review of existing property.

There are many benefits of how an office fit out affects work performance such as increased productivity, wellbeing and employee satisfaction. In addition, workplace design plays a pivotal role in demonstrating a business’s values.

Fit-outs can take a number of different forms such as Shell & Core, CAT A or CAT B, depending on the level of interior specification requirements.

  • Shell & Core

This is the first stage of a buildings’ fit out which is provided by the developer and generally comprises of the basic structure of the building. This often includes key communal areas such as reception, lifts, stairwells, toilets and meeting rooms. Once completed, this space will simply be an empty “shell” on the inside.

CCS Fit Out
  • CAT A

A CAT A space primarily provided by a developer or landlord could be habitable, but is typically an open plan finish which is treated as a blank canvas. Typically a CAT A fit out will include: raised floors, suspended ceilings, basic electrical services, smoke alarms and finishes to internal walls.

  • CAT B

This follows on from a CAT A fit out and is the completion part; allowing you to transform the blank canvas into a functioning space. This is usually tailored to the individual requirements of the business, delivering custom design elements which reflect your brand and work ethos. This could include anything from furniture, break out spaces, meeting rooms and office amenities.

CAT B Fit Out CCS

Get Involved

With both UK and regional coverage, the fit out agreement provides either a traditional or design-and-build approach to your project and suppliers can advise on the best solutions to meet your requirements.

To find out more or if you have a specific question, please complete our form quoting RM6073 and one of our building experts will be in touch.

Digital buying community hits the North

We are pleased to announce that we will be taking our next digital buying community meetup to the city of Manchester.

After the success of the last digital buying community meetup which was attended by over 120 buyers at Tech UK in London on 16 January 2019, we are really excited to announce that we will be taking our next event to DWP Manchester on 2 May 2019.

This event offers a great opportunity to network with and support a peer group of buyers from the public and third sector, to enable knowledge to be shared, common challenges to be discussed and solutions to be developed.

We have a great line-up of activities for this session, including an introduction from Craig Macdonald, Chief Digital and Technology Officer at CCS, plus a jam packed itinerary of team building and engagement sessions to discuss topics surrounding working as a multidisciplinary team, how to challenge culture, the importance of pre tender market engagement, awareness of accessibility and procurement and much more.

How can you get involved?

This event provides everyone involved with a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the procurement profession, share knowledge and expertise and agree best practices.

If you’re on the digital journey and wish to be part of our forthcoming event, simply fill out this form stating ‘2 May digital buying community’ in the comments box to receive an invite.   

Look forward to seeing you there.

Emilia

10 quick wins to take control of school energy costs

 

It is hard to escape the fact that schools are under financial pressure. A recent study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighted that by 2020, budgets for Education could facing up to a 20% reduction. Yet, alongside this, the Government is also promoting renewable targets and pushing for 20% of energy to come from ‘green’ sources by 2020.

Meeting the challenge of making the most of available resources, saving money and reducing carbon emissions, all whilst maintaining standards of education high is not an easy one.

So, what can schools do to take control of their energy usage and cut costs in the process? Well, the first step is to start with the quick wins. Whilst they may seem small, when aggregated, they can make a big difference:

  1. Switch off heating for the last hour of the day – most buildings should retain heat for this period.
  2. Use time switches – so heating is only on when the building’s in use.
  3. Temperature check classrooms – Children are actually more comfortable than adults at lower temperatures due to their higher metabolic rates. If you can turn the temperature of a room down by just 1 degree Celsius, you can save between 5-10% on your heating bill.
  4. Leave blinds open  – making the most of natural light and reduce the need for electric lighting.
  5. Install low energy lighting – whilst the initial cost might be higher they provide longer term savings. Switching to LED can save up to 80% on lighting costs.
  6. Switch lights off – it’s a myth that it takes more energy to switch lights on and off than just to leave on. Switch lights off when the room isn’t in use.
  7. Keep doors to different areas closed – this can limit thermal loss to unused rooms and the hallways between classrooms.
  8. Turn off appliances at the wall when they are not in use. Appliances that are not in use are running in the background. And unplug during school holidays.
  9. Check that none of your taps around the school are dripping. Hot water uses a large amount of energy to heat.
  10. Finally, switch supplier.

This last point is crucial and where the market has been lacking considering the domestic market has been able to switch supplier for over a decade. To address this, Crown Commercial Service (CCS) have launched a new energy switching service – School Switch –  in conjunction with their partners Gemserv and My Utility Genius, and supported by the Department of Education.

This, first of its kind, free service enables schools and academies to take control of their energy usage on one, easy to use online portal. Just like domestic comparison sites, it provides a flexible, simple way to compare quotes and buy your energy, without the need for specialist knowledge.

The service allows you to store site information, choose supplier and provide a fixed price at the time of order, essential for taking control of costs. There are also a number of additional benefits which include:

·       Instant and bespoke pricing based on your requirements

·       Full visibility of supplier prices

·       Fixed pricing for a contract term decided by you

·       A compliant process

To find out more and to start your switch today visit School Switch.

5 questions to ask yourself ahead of the new financial year

The nights are getting lighter and spring is officially here. And that means it’s just a few weeks before the start of the new financial year.

We want to help you make your procurement as effective and efficient as possible in 2019/20 so here are 5 questions we’d like you to think about as you prepare for Quarter One.

  1. How do you ensure you are not missing out on the latest public sector procurement news and are getting help from the commercial specialists here at CCS?

There are lots of different ways you can keep up to date, meet our team and access tips and advice on how to get the best from your procurements:

  • Follow us. Our LinkedIn and Twitter pages are updated daily with information about our events, new agreements, blogs, toolkits and more.
  • Join us. Our monthly webinars are a great way to hear from our commercial specialists and ensure you are getting the best solution for your organisation.
  • Meet us. We have a large event schedule at locations around the country to meet and engage with our customers and suppliers. Our monthly newsletters will keep you up to date with the latest event news.
  • Read about us. Keep an eye on our website for all our news and updates.  

   2. Have you considered aggregation to help you maximise your buying power?

You may have already seen information about our free to use aggregation service, and how we can help you make great savings.

By combining your requirements with other public and third sector organisations, we can not only help you save money, but also save you valuable time as we will do all the hard work for you.

If you don’t know much about our aggregation service take 2 minutes to watch our film to find out how it works.

We’ve got several opportunities coming up, from fuels and fleet to mobile voice and data services. Get involved now.  

3. Have you considered a financial audit?

Our Spend Analysis and Recovery Services (SARS) framework helps you recover funds by identifying overpayments and duplicate payments.

The use of spend recovery services is commonplace in the private sector, not just to identify and recover valuable funds, but also to understand where to make process improvements to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Under the framework, accountancy and audit specialists with expertise across areas like utilities, telecom’s and VAT will work with you on a “no-win-no-fee” basis. They will analyse your financial transactions and commercial agreements to identify monies that could be recovered. They will then recover them for you, and make recommendations so you can take steps to avoid such issues in the future.

We estimate that over £220 million could be recovered across the public sector over the next 4 years. With no upfront investment required, can you afford to miss out?

Take the next step to setting up a financial audit by clicking here

Or join our series of webinars, in March, to find out how we can help identify any lost spend and put the money back where it belongs – in your organisation.

CCS Aggregation

4. Can you take advantage of compliant procurement in minutes?

One of the many ways we help organisations like yours with its technology needs is through our Purchasing Platform – the new and improved way to buy technology products and off-the-shelf software. It’s quick, easy and can save you time and money.

  • Save up to 30% on technology products vs Amazon
  • Save time with the easy-to-use click and buy catalogue
  • Suppliers are all pre-checked, audited and financially secure
  • Plenty of choice, all in one handy place

Join the hundreds of organisations in the public sector that are already benefiting from the Purchasing Platform.

Visit the Purchasing Platform today to find out more.

Did you know that our Purchasing Platform offers you access to compliant, direct award solutions for technology products, office supplies and multi-functional devices for printing, copying and scanning?

There’s no need to run a further competition as click and buy catalogues mean you can buy in minutes. It’s ideal if you have urgent requirements before the end of the financial year or need to quickly buy a small number of relatively low value products – whether as a one-off purchase or on a regular basis.

As well as offering a speedy procurement solution, you can expect to make great savings – up to 30% on technology products, 50% on office supplies and 15% on multi-functional devices. Register now and learn more.

5. Have you heard about our supplier’s experience?

We’ve recently helped one of our suppliers create 60 new jobs and increase their turnover from £1.5 million to £4.5 million in just four years. This growth has come from contracts that have been awarded through our CCS agreements.  Watch the video to find out more…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrUP4BuBSmQ&list=PLEkvr0UMpTOwICFkrQexaV5OHEwm1ZHQ8&index=1

If you would like to know more or have any general questions then please get in touch.

School Switch set to make big savings for schools

This week, we launched our new energy switching service – School Switch – which allows schools and academies across the UK to switch their energy supplier in a few easy steps: and save money while they’re at it.

We’re aware of the pressures schools are constantly under to save money – more than £10billion a year is spent on non-staffing costs – and as the procurement experts for the public sector, we’re always looking for new ways to help schools and academies save time and money, in order to shift the spend focus onto frontline teaching.

School Switch is the first of its kind in the public sector and is similar to those used at home, providing a flexible and simple way to compare quotes and buy energy without the need for specialist knowledge. And you have the ability to fix prices for a term defined by you.

It gives you:

·      Instant and bespoke pricing based on your requirements

·      Full visibility of supplier prices

·      Fixed pricing for a contract term decided by you

·      A compliant process

·      Provides options on renewable energy

This new website is fully supported by the Department for Education, and follows the Education Secretary’s pledge to work with schools to bear down on unnecessary costs so that more money can be spent in the classroom.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said*:

“By saving money on their energy bills and avoiding high broker fees, the more money schools will have to spend on what really matters – getting the best teachers into classrooms and giving their pupils a great education.

This website is the latest step in our efforts to help schools reduce unnecessary costs, building on the School Resource Management Strategy I launched last year to provide practical advice and support.”

Get started with School Switch today – register.

Got a question?

·        Fill in our online form

·        Call us on 0345 410 2222

·        Email info@crowncommercial.gov.uk

* Read the full DfE announcement here.

 

New Technology Expense Management agreement from CCS

The latest Technology Expense Management (TEM) agreement (RM3802) is now live for customers. Through the agreement’s 7 services, customers can reduce communications infrastructure costs and achieve savings through improved management of telecom and related technology estates. The TEM agreement helps to drive control, enhance estate visibility, uncover savings and deliver real business value.

All UK public sector organisations can make significant savings through the TEM agreement which gives visibility to estates to help drive efficiencies, reduce costs or avoid them. It can also be of enormous help with reprocurement as it will identify exactly what assets an organisation has along  with assessing its needs.

Gareth Rhys-Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer said, “Technology Expense Management represents exactly the sort of initiative we are looking for to drive real savings for taxpayers.”

The previous TEM agreement which ended on 31 March 2018 helped customers save on average 20% of overall telecom spend in year 1.

Calero Software Limited, recognised in Gartner’s 2018 Market Guide for global TEM services, is the sole supplier for RM3802. As TEM involves bringing together billing, contractual and HR data onto a database, Calero’s IT system and security of personal data has been rigorously tested and assured to ensure customers have complete peace of mind that their data is safe when using the agreement.

Get involved

Interested in finding out more about our new TEM agreement? Our introductory webinars will take place on the following dates. Register today:

Business travel booking with Corporate Travel Management

Find out about our supplier to the RM6016 Public Sector Travel & Venue Solutions, Corporate Travel Management (CTM)

Introduction

As a supplier on Crown Commercial Services (CCS) Public Sector Travel & Venue Solutions (RM6016), we at Corporate Travel Management (CTM) are delighted to be able to offer you an innovative and cost-effective travel management solution. We focus on driving commercial benefits, customer service excellence and policy compliance to deliver a return on investment to organisations across central government and wider public sector.

The solution

CCS developed the Public Sector Travel & Venue Solutions agreement following a procurement strategy to reduce the overall cost of business travel. A broad-ranging solution to all of your travel requirements in one place, this agreement offers all public sector organisations a brand-new suite of innovative travel, accommodation and venue solutions. This includes both online and offline booking channels, service delivery models and Venue Booking Services.

Using this agreement, CTM is committed to provide you help with domestic and international business travel booking and management services with higher online transactions. We can also assist you with meeting and conference venue services.

CTM’s offer – why choose us

At CTM, we develop highly customised travel management solutions which make a real difference to public sector businesses. Our unique blend of broad-ranging solution agreements, customer service and innovative technology drives exceptional value at every step of your travel booking journey through:

– Greater savings

– Improved efficiencies

– Maximum safety  

No matter the size of your travel spend or how complex your travel needs, we’ll deliver a tailored solution that works for you.

Technology

Our technology is all developed in-house by a team of highly experienced and forward thinking developers. Our online booking tool tRIPS is completely tailored to meet the needs of travel managers, arrangers and travellers, allowing a completely personalised and customisable interaction. It’s simple search and results screens, filterable results and unobtrusive policy controls ensure your travel policies are enforced without causing disruption to the booking process.  

We continue to work with our supply chain to ensure we have the best possible content available. Offering customers everything from; split tickets, automatic rail refunds, simultaneous searches between air, rail and hotels and uniquely displays scheduled and low-cost airlines in one screen.

Innovation

We are committed to finding new and improved ways to enhance the travel experience and our continuous feedback channels empower employees and customers to share ideas on how to improve our service and product offering. It allows us to move quickly from idea-generation to deployment. It’s what we call our ‘Innovation Engine’ and we think the results speak for themselves across our operations, people, products and services.

ROI

CTM’s global buying power is second to none. For every pound spent on our travel services, we’ll return more in savings to our customers. Our proactive approach to account management ensures we are continually identifying new savings opportunities.

With CTM, you control every aspect of your travel spend. This transparency increases your savings potential. Our supplier negotiations deliver discounts and value-adds, which will significantly reduce your travel spend.

Who we are

Headquartered in Australia, the company provides local services solutions to clients across the globe.

We are committed to driving creative and innovative solutions tailored to your needs. By weaving our highly knowledgeable teams into the fabric of your business, we can truly understand your requirements and become an extension of your own teams. This partnership approach allows us to leverage the best in service and technology to really focus on the return on investment to your travel programme.

Our core values have remained the same: providing a highly personalised service in partnership with its clients, developing innovative and flexible client solutions, and a commitment to demonstrating a positive return on investment for its services.

Corporate Travel Management (North), formally known as Redfern Travel, have been awarded 6 government travel frameworks since 2006.

Want to find out more?

Get in touch via our contact form, and one of our experts will be in touch.

If you are interested in making significant savings on your travel services through our Public Sector Travel & Venue Solutions (RM6016) agreement.

Visit the agreement web page

If you want to find out more about how we can help you, why not ask one of our customer team members to give you a call or ask for more information online?

Complete this online form

New Fleet portal is now live

We are pleased to announce that our new Fleet portal is now live.

Fleet portal screenshot

 

Our new fleet portal has been designed with you at its core, offering increased functionality and a completely revised look and feel.   

You now have better access to online quotations with an enhanced search functionality, as well as the ability to filter results based on any requirements and compare vehicles side by side.

As with the previous portal, you will still be able to access live quotes from all of the lease providers on Lot 1, ensuring competitive pricing and the ability to direct award.

You can also access a full breakdown of costs, so you can compare manufacturers; compare buy vs. lease prices and whole life costs for vehicles.

Having this increased functionality will support decision making for both operational and salary sacrificed vehicles.

Get started on the fleet portal today – register.

Getting started

If you would like further guidance or have a question please fill in our online form or call us on 0345 410 2222.

How transport tech can help improve road safety in your area

Last summer, we wrote about the Safer Roads Fund which has been made available to improve the 50 most dangerous stretches of ‘A’ roads in England.

The Safer Roads Fund could prevent 1,450 deaths and serious injuries on our road network over the coming years. That is a powerful statistic; life-changing for those families whose loved ones could now be saved.

If you are an authority working to improve road safety in your area, how will you best achieve this?

We recommend early planning and engagement with suppliers, such as those available through our Traffic Management Technology 2 agreement. We also suggest speaking with other authorities to share experience and best practice. As always, we are here to help you with this and provide advice and support while you plan your engagement.

You could also think about how you could come up with innovative solutions, as sometimes it takes off the wall thinking to achieve the biggest impact. This style of thinking has been the approach of the state of Iowa who are using variable messaging signs to publish witty, thought-provoking safety messages to improve their road safety. Messages such as “May the 4th be with you, text I will not”! Or the equally catchy “Who ya gonna call? Nobody you’re driving.”

This style of message can make drivers think, and as the content is humorous, they will be more likely to remember the message. Safety campaigns using variable message signs are showing the potential to reduce crashes by as much as 9%. More research is underway but any reduction is gratefully received.

For more about what Iowa have done, please read the article in January’s edition of Traffic Technology International (on page 52-59).

How can we help?

Here at CCS, our commercial arrangements align with the Safer Roads Fund, meaning we can help you improve the most dangerous stretches of road. Variable message signs, lighting, pedestrian crossings, traffic signals, average speed cameras and road safety studies are all in scope of our Traffic Management Technology 2 agreement.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch.

Supply teachers deal has gone digital

The supply teachers deal has gone digital for schools and academies in England following the launch by Education Secretary Damian Hinds on 15 January.

Have you seen the announcement from Education Secretary Damian Hinds today (15 January) officially launching our new agency selection tool? In it he said:

“I want to help schools use their resources as effectively as possible. There will always be a role for supply teachers within schools, but schools shouldn’t be ripped off when trying to recruit them. This new online tool will bring much-needed transparency to the fees that agencies charge to enable school leaders to see what they are getting for their money.”

Read the announcement in full and access the online version of the agency selection tool with your DfE Sign-in.

Not in England?

We’re working hard to give schools, academies and other educational organisations based in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland access to the digital version too. In the meantime, please continue to use the offline Excel version. Many more suppliers have been added since the framework launched at the end of August, so please get in touch if you’d like a copy of the latest version of the tool.

Whether you’re accessing the digital or offline version of the agency selection tool the benefits of the deal remain the same. As one school has found:

“The supply teachers deal is an easy to use and effective resource. It has reduced workload and helped us save £2,500 in 3 months. The agency selection tool makes rate comparison easy, so we know we are getting best value. The deal also gives us reassurance that the necessary safeguarding checks have been done.”
Rob Owens, Director of Finance and Operations, Rainhill High School

Meet the team

We hope that the agency selection tool and simple short order form will make it easy for you to source the temporary staff you need cost effectively, efficiently and compliantly. However, rest assured that there is plenty of help and guidance available too.

Jenny Nugent, Tom Harper and myself all joined CCS about 5 months ago. Our role is to help you get the best value for money through the supply teachers deal, and we’re passionate about supporting school business leaders. We work alongside John Wilson and Christine Morton, who worked closely with DfE to develop the deal.

Miranda Broadley, Jenny Nugent and Tom Harper
Miranda, Jenny and Tom

I joined CCS after graduating from the University of St. Andrews with a degree in French and Spanish, and Tom has previously spent 2½ years working in temporary recruitment giving him an in-depth understanding of the agency market. Jenny has spent “more years than she cares to remember” (her words not mine!) working in the agency supplier market, and her specialist knowledge includes framework tendering, business development and customer relationship management. She also has experience of framework auditing and managing performance against compliance standards.

We also have a great customer service team, who are on hand to answer any of your framework queries. They have lots of knowledge of the supply teachers deal, however, if they can’t answer your question they will pass it on to Jenny, Tom or myself.

We’re here to help

You can learn more about the deal by visiting the supply teachers web page

Got a question?

What can you do to tackle modern slavery?

The International Labour Organisation estimates that 40.3 million people live in modern slavery. One in four are children, almost half of whom are aged between 5 and 11. It’s estimated that 13,000 people are victims of modern slavery in the UK alone.

The inhuman and cruel exploitation of people is widespread and more relevant to public procurement than you might think. Modern slavery is a clear and present risk in the supply chains for many common goods and services.

Why modern slavery matters

Abolishing modern slavery from supply chains is one of the UK government’s top priorities.

The UK Modern Slavery Act (2015) requires all businesses operating in the UK with an annual turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual Transparency In Supply Chains (TISC) statement. In its statement, each company has to show what steps they have taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in their business or any part of their supply chain – or admit that they have done nothing.

Although public sector organisations are not required to produce TISC statements, this is set to change. The Prime Minister recently made a statement to Parliament following the G20 summit in which she confirmed that the UK Government will be publishing the steps departments are taking to identify and prevent modern slavery via their own transparency statements.

Working with others – a new approach

The Government knows that public sector procurement could be a powerful tool in the fight against modern slavery. But public sector buyers need to understand how to map out the risks in their supply chains, and take steps to manage them.

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has been working with the Home Office and Cabinet Office to develop a package of measures to tackle modern slavery in government procurement.

In addition to the work on a new government TISC statement, new measures include:

  • A new Modern Slavery Procurement Policy Note (PPN) and guidance, scheduled to be published early in the new year;
  • A supplier self-assessment tool called the Modern Slavery Assessment Tool (MSAT), that will require significant government suppliers to disclose what they have done to tackle modern slavery in their own organisations and supply chains;
  • New training to help commercial staff identify modern slavery and manage risks in their supply chains.

What is CCS doing?

CCS first risk-screened its procurements in 2010, using the Ethical Trade Initiative tools and its own market sector knowledge. The purpose of risk screening is to identify where the risks are and develop procurement strategies that reflect these risks.

More recently, we have spoken with the Home Office Modern Slavery Unit, Ethical Trading Initiative, Stronger Together and UNICEF, as well as experts from public procurement bodies, such as the International Learning Lab on public procurement and human rights.

We have also worked alongside, and shared best practice with, leaders in this field from the University of Liverpool, the Department of Health (Sustainable Development Unit), the Department for International Development, and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

CCS adopted the Standard Selection Questionnaire (SSQ) in its procurements in 2015. The SSQ uses the Modern Slavery Act and other levers in relation to EU social and labour law and other collective agreements and standards as mandatory and discretionary exclusion grounds. Suppliers are asked to confirm whether they have breached their obligations in the field of EU and UK Social and Labour law and other collective agreements and standards.

We also worked in partnership with the Government Legal Department and the Government Digital Service to develop a shorter and simpler contract for common goods and services called the Public Sector Contract (PSC).

This includes a Corporate Social Responsibility Schedule which requires our suppliers to prepare an annual slavery and human trafficking report setting out the steps they have taken to ensure slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its business or supply chain.

In areas such as Construction and ICT Hardware, where there are risks related to health and safety, forced and bonded labour and labour standard breaches, we have worked closely with customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders to make them aware of the risks and develop a set of principles to tackle these abuses.

We also clearly set out our expectations in our specifications and contracts to deliver continuous improvement. You can read more about our work with Electronics Watch here.

What can we all do?

Tackling modern slavery requires everyone who works in public sector procurement, including suppliers, to be aware of the risk areas where modern slavery is most likely to occur and to have a plan to address those risks.

It is important that buyers:

  • map supply chains to understand risks
  • engage with stakeholders and suppliers to make sure everyone understands those risks what is expected of them
  • develop procurement strategies that address the risks
  • set out those expectations in procurement documents, including your specification and contract
  • undertake due diligence before, and after, the the contract has been awarded
  • work collaboratively with suppliers to develop continuous improvement programmes to tackle modern slavery after the contract has been awarded

Find out more

Webinars were held in November and December for public sector staff to help them understand:

  • What modern slavery is and the scale of the problem
  • The legal framework and their obligations
  • How they can tackle modern slavery in their supply chains and procurements

If you weren’t able to make these sessions, you can read the webinar slides and notes here. If you missed out we will be running more webinars after the PPN is published.

Get in touch

If you have any queries please get in touch:

  • fill in our online form and mention ‘Modern Slavery’ in the comments box
  • call us on 0345 410 2222

New year, new and innovative software framework coming soon

As you may be aware, our new Data and Application Solutions (DAS) framework is set to launch this year to provide a wide range of software services and ancillary hardware.

This includes a number of sector specific lots to ensure it meet the needs of the entire public sector.

We have been busy ensuring that DAS, which is the replacement for our previous Local Authority Software Applications and Corporate Software Solutions agreements, attracts the right range of suppliers across all 14 Lots.

The good news is that we are in the final stages of the competition and are aiming to go live with the framework at the end of February.

Our first webinar will be held Thursday 7th February at 14:30 and will explain how the agreement works and the differences between this and our other relevant live agreements – make sure you register for the webinar so you can hear all about it.

If you are interested in helping to ensure that the customer guidance documentation we issue meets your expectations, please contact us at info@crowncommercial.gov.uk with the subject line “RM3821 customer guidance” and we’ll contact you with details about how you can get involved.

Look out for more detailed information about the new framework shortly.

Join us for our next digital buying community of practice

Following my previous blog announcing the launch of the UK’s first public sector digital buying community, I was amazed by the response.

So many of you wanted to get involved in our effort to help buyers of digital, data and technology services to build their commercial and technical awareness and capability.

In just 6 months, attendance at our digital buying community meet ups, which are held in collaboration with Government Digital Service (GDS), has grown by a staggering 523% (and continues to grow),

Join our next meet up

Our next meet up will be taking place on 16 January 2019 at Tech UK in London. (10am-2pm)

During our session we will be discussing topics including how to draft Statement of Work and how to write requirements that are SME friendly (Delivered by our SME champion Richard Hassett). We will also welcome Cate Mclaurin from London Borough of Hackney who will be sharing their successful journey through the Digital Marketplace and their thinking about the skills and behaviours needed to use it effectively. We will also be doing a quick overview (what and how to buy) from our other digital agreements.

Join us to celebrate our amazing profession, network and learn about best practices when using our agreements. Simply complete this form stating ‘16 January digital buying community’ to request an invitation.

I can’t wait to see you there.

Our first technology and procurement showcase digitech18 was a success

technology and procurement showcase digitech18Our vision came to life last week at our first ever digitech18 event, which took place in the First Direct Arena, Leeds – and what an event it was! There were 60 exhibitors in attendance on the day, of which 34% were SMEs, showcasing to over 500 delegates, in what we believe was a hugely successful event for the technology sector.

The event, which was hosted by ourselves at Crown Commercial Service and Public Sector Connect, aimed to combine a mix of influential, high-profile guest speakers from both the public and private sectors, along with an engaging technology showcase. All of this was delivered free of charge to technology users and procurement delegates from healthcare, local government, central government, blue light and education sectors from right across the UK.

We had an exceptional selection of guest speakers for this years event and many of those touched upon our key messages:

  • The SME Agenda – Emma Jones, the Cabinet Office Crown Representative for Small Business explained the government’s ambitious plans to have £1 in every £3 to be spent with SME’s.
  • Digital Transformation and Connectivity – Rachel McLean, Director General, Chief Financial Officer for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) gave an update on the Local Digital Declaration and announced the first round of funding available to local authorities for digital projects.
  • AI and Robotics – James Merrick-Potter, Head of Robotic Automation Unit, Cabinet Office on the latest developments in RPA and how they are helping to transform delivery of public services

technology and procurement showcase digitech18We also ran more intimate sessions at the event, which offered the opportunity for delegates to join seminars that focused on key areas of technology in an environment where they were free to ask questions and explore topics in more detail with our technology experts. These sessions were very well attended on the day and have received some great positive feedback.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who attended this year’s digitech18 event, and I would also like to extend my thanks to our team and the team at Public Sector Connect for making this years event a huge success.

Content & presentation slides

For anyone who missed any of the sessions on the day – don’t worry all of the presentations from the day are available to download below:

Plenary session

Seminar presentations – Morley Theatre

Seminar presentations – Roundhay Theatre

CCS sessions

Get in touch

For further information or if you have a specific enquiry, please use our contact form or call us on 0345 410 2222

Help us evaluate our new Education Technology Framework

We are renewing our bespoke technology solution for Education (ICT Services for Education – RM1050). We have engaged with schools, academies, Multi Academy Trusts (MATs), the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) to help develop the specification.

CCS will shortly be issuing the contract notice and are making preparations for the evaluation stage. To enable us to ensure our suppliers meet the needs of schools and academies, we would like to invite you to get involved in the evaluation process and would greatly appreciate your help and support.

Those who are able to support us in the evaluation will gain a wider understanding of commercial processes and the market response to government.

Requirements

To be involved there is no specific background knowledge of CCS required, we are looking for those with a knowledge of technology needs within a school for hardware and/or audio-visual systems.

The Process

Evaluator Training – This will take an hour and it will be done during the tender period (December) at a time that suits you.

Evaluation period –  This is currently planned for mid January 2019, the exact amount of time and specific dates needed will depend on the number of bidders and final bid period however; we are anticipating we will require roughly 20 hours over a 4 week period.

Consensus – Selection and Award will be conducted at the same time and is separate to the independent evaluation time.

If you are interested in contributing to this procurement exercise, please contact leah.fletcher@crowncommercial.gov.uk to register your interest.

Making cities smarter through connectivity

It’s likely you’ve heard of them, and that you have a sense that they are coming: Smart Cities, but what are they, and how will they affect you?

There are a number of smart city initiatives across the UK such as Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol (the latter of which even edged out London for the top spot in the UK Smart Cities Index from Huawai).

These cities are also supplemented by national projects such as real time air pollution monitoring and the consultation currently being run to publish open data for bus transportation.

The UK government in its smart cities background paper argues that “There is no absolute definition of a smart city, no end point but rather a process or series of steps by which cities become more “liveable” and resilient and, hence, able to respond to new challenges”.

This shows that, rather than waking up one day in smart cities, there will be a slow growth in the intelligence of our cites, a gradual seeping of ‘smartness’ into the darkened cracks of public information.

And operating behind all these initiatives silently, and unseen is the ubiquitous network. Just as buses ferry passengers around smart cities, the network is moving data from where it’s gathered to where it becomes useful. The network in the 21st Century isn’t simply one thing, but a collection of different technologies and protocols able to adapt to a specific requirement.  For example a bus will report its location via a LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) but the bus stop that passengers use to view that information can be connected via an underground cable.

With this tidal wave of data cresting in the near future it’s important to understand that building network infrastructure today, means building that infrastructure for tomorrow. Which is where our Network Services framework comes in. One of the cornerstones of the design of the framework was to make it technology agnostic. Which means rather than specifying something like “4G Data connection” we asked suppliers to be capable of delivering “data to a mobile device”, which allows suppliers the freedom to offer cutting edge solutions to solve their customers data needs, allowing public sector organisations to offer network backbones suitable, not just for today’s cities, but for the cities of tomorrow (I tried really hard to avoid that phrase, but you knew it was coming sooner or later, right?).

So if you are looking to refresh your city’s infrastructure, maybe you have a public wifi plan or pollution monitoring solution to connect, then please get in touch with our team. Our network experts will be able to help you take your requirement to our pre-selected suppliers, cutting down on procurement time and giving you access to the right technology solutions and experience required to deliver 21st century (and beyond) connectivity.

How the Digital Marketplace is helping Scottish SMEs win public sector contracts

Every year, it feels like the public sector’s digital transformation is accelerating, delivering a major opportunity for small businesses. Scotland’s SMEs are making a significant contribution to this transformation.

Since 2014, small and medium-sized UK tech businesses have won contracts worth more than £1.9bn through CCS’s Digital Marketplace.

I’m personally delighted that almost 300 Scottish SMEs have been awarded contracts through the Digital Marketplace since it was launched, providing innovative solutions to support the delivery of world-class public services.

The total value of these contracts was more than £70 million. That’s a staggering 71% of total Digital Marketplace spend in Scotland going to SMEs, compared with a total UK figure of 45.5%. It’s clear that public bodies in Scotland trust suppliers, whatever their size, to deliver the technology solutions they need.

While £70m being spent with SMEs in Scotland is a great start, I believe we can do more and that’s why CCS will continue to support organisations such as the Supplier Development Programme to encourage more Scottish SMEs to get involved in CCS business.

The Digital Marketplace will be a crucial tool in delivery of job creation, innovation and promotion of social value through our frameworks. Our Digital Outcomes and Specialists, G-Cloud and Crown Hosting Data Centres frameworks can all be accessed through the Digital Marketplace.

We will continue to encourage and support public bodies to use the Digital Marketplace for procuring digital, technology and data services.

If you’d like to find out more about the Digital Marketplace or our frameworks, please visit the Digital Marketplace. If you have a specific question, just get in touch and one of our technology experts will be happy to help.

Are you overpaying for your Microsoft licences?

Could you be driving more value for your organisation through your technology procurement?

As you may be aware, we negotiate MOU’s (Memorandums of Understanding) on behalf of the UK government with key commercial partners including Microsoft. These MOUs ensure that the entirety of the UK public sector is able to access the best possible price for Microsoft software and licences, by leveraging the size and buying power of the public sector. This avoids public sector organisations having to individually negotiate less favourable terms, saving the taxpayer money and delivering efficiencies for the public sector and the supplier.

Despite this high level understanding being in place between the UK public sector and Microsoft (among other companies), there remain multiple routes to market for you to access the MOU. In this article I aim to outline the benefits of choosing  our Technology Products 2 framework for Microsoft software and licensing.

Microsoft Licences & the MoU

CCS negotiated the MoU directly with Microsoft and so is perfectly placed to explain how to access it and how to get the most from it. We can provide an impartial review of current or proposed licence requirements, linked to the longer-term strategy of your organisation. What’s more, Microsoft licences can be purchased quickly and simply via the Technology Products 2 framework (RM3733).

What are the benefits of using the Technology Products 2 Framework for Microsoft licensing & support?

  • Microsoft licences can be purchased alone or as part of a wider procurement including hardware and/or other software; all bespoke requirements can be considered
  • Best public sector prices – CCS suppliers’ margins are contractually capped (max 2.5%) and these margins can be routinely audited by CCS, with rebates imposed where required to ensure best value is maintained
  • Reduced timescales – no further OJEU process needed and we can provide tender documentation and templates to make the process even easier. Using the framework for your Enterprise Agreement renewals can also be faster than other routes.
  • Pre-defined terms and conditions and a simplified order form allow for an extremely simple contracting process

What about Value Added Resellers (VARs) & Technology Products 2?

  • There are a wide variety of Microsoft partners on the framework meaning that you can be confident you will get a good response to your tender and that the pricing will be competitive
  • There are differences between VARs – these companies tend to have different operating models and USP’s, with some more focused on service than others.  Some will have closer relationships with Microsoft than others (different levels of partners dependent on volume of sales etc.) Some account managers will be better than others and staff can change frequently, all of which can impact on the deal attained.
  • Technology Products 2 provides access to the best VARs – adding value for many customers in innovative ways.  Types of reseller value added services include;
    • Licence tracking
    • Asset management
    • Software assurance benefits
    • Training vouchers
    • Classroom days
    • Technical support
    • Suppliers can be tested on these value added services as well as price
  • Price and value scoring mechanism – customers should use a price / quality mix on TP2:  For example; 10% Quality / 90% Price. Quality could measure – delivery time, sales service, accessories, and service fitness for purpose.  Price could measure life cycle costs, cost effectiveness & price; price and running costs. Using a scoring mechanism is good practice, as you will want to test the market and the resellers in order to attain value from them. Not all resellers are equal so it is wise to test them at tender stage.
  • Some customers may be using a reseller that is also a supplier on our framework. Contracting direct is both non-compliant and non-competitive i.e. you could be paying too much for the same product.. Using Technology Products 2  will allow you to ensure you are getting the best price for your licences and service.

Want to find out more?

Get in touch via our contact form, quoting ‘Microsoft’ in the comments box and one of our experts will be in touch.

Digital innovation and best practice in contact centres

CCS hosted a strategic customer forum to discuss how we can help public sector organisations innovate their contact centres, whilst also making saving efficiencies.

 

At our most recent customer forum, which took place on 19 July, there was a strong focus on best practice regarding service level agreements (SLAs) and key performance indicators (KPIs). If you were unable to attend the forum and would like to receive a copy of the slides relating to these topics please get in touch mentioning ‘CC forum slides’ in the comments box.

Positive feedback

Attendees told us that they really liked:

The opportunity to “network and share experiences”…”learn from other people’s experience” …and “insights from supplier sessions” (Department for Education)

“Strategy and channel capability, focused snappy agenda and discussions” (Home Office)

“Excellent range of speakers from a variety of relevant organisations, knowledgeable and well informed” (BEIS)

“Opportunity to talk to others in similar businesses” (Civil Aviation Authority)

November forum

The aim of our regular forum is to bring together public sector organisations to network and share experiences, best practice and the latest thinking. Following feedback from attendees of the July forum, the November one will include more time for networking, as well as presentations from the public sector.

It is being hosted by Exela Technologies Ltd at their offices at the Shard in London on 7 November and we want more wider public sector organisations to join us. The focus of the forum will be digital innovation.

We only have a few spaces left so if you are interested in attending please get in touch stating ‘CC Nov forum’ in the comments box. 

Digital innovation

Industry research from ContactBabel reports that digital channels (email, web chat and social media) will account for 28% of inbound call centre interactions by 2021. However, for some demographics and for complex conversations, voice still remains the preferred engagement channel.

In this challenging – and constantly changing – landscape we want to ensure that all public sector organisations are making appropriate use of the latest technology to help them rise to the digital challenge and continue to provide great customer service.

We work closely with our customers to help them build their contact centre specifications and challenge their current ‘as is’ service, so it was not surprising that at the July forum there was lots of discussion around the role of technology in customer engagement – this is why we want to focus on it in November.

Appropriate use of the available channels is a really important consideration. Is it right for your organisation to adopt the latest digital channels? What is the right mix of channels for your customer base? Just because other organisations are using a channel does not necessarily mean it is right for you.

We’re here to help

We hope you can join us on 7 November to discuss these topics and more, but if you can’t make this date and would like to join our network and be kept up to date with future events please get in touch mentioning ‘CC network’.

Our framework offers you access to both consultancy and service providers. You can find out more by visiting the framework page.

The digital buying community is live

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our brand new digital buying community.

A year ago, our procurement operations team embarked on a journey to help buyers of digital, data and technology services from across the public and third sector build their commercial and technical awareness.

Many of the requirements from buyers posted on the Digital Marketplace were either non-compliant or poorly worded which results in challenges from suppliers and delayed timescales for buyers, so we decided to go out and talk to our users to see how we could provide extra support and guidance.

When we completed a discovery we found that many of those involved in the procurement of digital services felt uncertain about how the Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) framework process worked. It was clear that there was a need to build a better technical and commercial understanding.

To deliver this knowledge, CCS collaborated with the Digital Marketplace team at Government Digital Service (GDS) to deliver workshops on topics like agile statement of works, balanced scorecards and writing agile requirements, among others.

The journey we set out on has at times been a difficult one. Building capability is a big job and represents a step-change for both central government and the wider public sector. So, after delivering over 70 workshops, we decided to launch the digital buying community to create and support a peer group of buyers from the public and third sector who can share knowledge, discuss common challenges and develop solutions.

Digital procurement professionals have the potential to be powerful enablers of agile service delivery. By bringing them together to share their expertise we hope to be able to spread best practice for buying digital and technology services across the public sector.

How can you get involved?

Join the digital buying community mailing list by completing our contact form and quoting ‘digital buying community’ in the comments box.

Looking for Construction Products and Consumables?

We’re in the process of developing a new commercial agreement to replace our existing Building Materials and Personal Protective Equipment Frameworks: RM3747 and RM3763 respectively. RM3747 is due to expire in February 2019 and we want to make sure our new commercial agreement suits your needs.

Customers are at the forefront of what we do, and we want to ensure the scope of the agreement and the customer journey will cater for your specific needs.

At this early stage we are proposing the new agreement will cover the following lots

1 – Heavy Building Materials and Finishing Trades
2 – Plumbing and Heating Materials
3 – Electrical Materials
4 – Timber and Joinery
5 – Hand and Power Tools
6 – Paints and Solvents
7 – Flooring and Tiling
8 – Personal Protective Equipment
9 NEW! – Kitchens and Bathrooms
10 NEW! – Cleaning consumables and equipment

We also propose that you should be able to have these products delivered next day to site, be able to collect the products in store, or have the products replenished to your site or vans automatically.

If you are interested in any of these services and would like to input, please get in touch using one of the following :

  • email directly – construction-products@crowncommercial.gov.uk
  • fill in our online form and mention ‘Construction Products and Consumables’ in the comments box
  • call us on 0345 410 2222

How can you improve the most dangerous stretches of road?

Congratulations to all councils who have been successful with bids for the Safer Roads Fund!

Why is it important?

The Safer Roads Fund was made available to improve the 50 most dangerous stretches of ‘A’ roads in England. The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but every road death is an unnecessary tragedy.

Each local authority is in a good position to understand how the ‘A’ roads in their area could be made safer. A few examples of how they could be made safer are:

  • Appropriate signage and road markings
  • Better lighting
  • Safe pedestrian crossings
  • Reduce variability of speed
  • Improved link roads

How can we help?

Here at CCS, our commercial arrangements align with the Safer Roads Fund, meaning we can help you improve the most dangerous stretches of road.

Variable message signs, lighting, pedestrian crossings, traffic signals, average speed cameras and road safety studies are all in scope of our Traffic Management Technology 2 framework.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch.

Technology Products aggregation – customer workshops round up

Following on from our customer workshops held last year, we reviewed and considered all of the feedback we received.

We can safely say that the events were a huge success, receiving circa 3,000 separate pieces of feedback, highlighting a few different trends and some interesting suggestions.

We received some great feedback from those who took part about the benefits they received from taking part in our aggregations and the processes that we use. Positive comments included the clear defined processes, compliant, standardised documentation and the additional value they received such as savings in time and resource.

The majority of comments received throughout all of the feedback surrounded engagement in all areas and included marketing, newsletters, guidance, structure and frequency of communication, but also engagement with customer groups by sector or regional hubs to act as a stakeholder group to assist with defining an aggregated requirement.

We have taken the feedback and quickly implemented a number of improvements, please see a few detailed below:

  • Introduced a structured communication plan and embedded as part of our standard operating procedure to ensure all parties are kept informed and relevant guidance information provided
  • Utilising different marketing channels and types of marketing media – we produced a video to help customers better understand the process and benefits of taking part view the video on our aggregation webpage
  • Collaborating with marketing team to publicise aggregation opportunities via webpage,
    Twitter feed and Linkedin more frequently and links included within team email signatures
  • Introduced option for customer webinars
  • Where appropriate a webinar or audio call offered to customer group to assist with transition to successful supplier
  • Sector specific competitions – the aggregation team are looking at increasing opportunities to aggregate on sector, such as education, health and police and emergency services

We also have a number of other improvements underway and planned, such as:

  • Customer feedback forms being created to capture improvements for future aggregated procurements
  • Future aggregation workshop events
  • Customer journey document underway to assist customers with a generic process for participating in an aggregated procurement
  • Aggregated procurement pipeline
  • Review pricing mechanisms, such as ceiling pricing and price validity periods
  • Increase standardisation of requirements by developing closer relationships with stakeholder groups

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who provided feedback and we look forward to helping you with your Technology Products requirements in future aggregations.

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch or call our customer service centre on 0345 410 2222.

CIPFA 2018 Conference Blog

The CIPFA 2018 conference was held from 11 to 12 of July and was hosted by the beautiful seaside town of Bournemouth, just a stone’s throw from the sea. The annual event is the UK’s leading conference for professionals working in public finance and accountancy. This year’s event  featured senior finance members from NHS bodies and Local Authorities across the country. This event saw a delegate list of over 800 members and many more attendees from leading public sector suppliers and organisations such as CCS.

The annual CIPFA conferences are themed events and this year focused on Talent, Technology, Transformation: Mapping the digital future. This was to highlight the opportunities and challenges presented by the impact of technology and featured sessions by global economists, thought leaders, tech pioneers and change management experts. The event was well attended and featured exhibits from over 50 suppliers and bodies.

Highlights from the plenary sessions included some sharp Brexit insight from the Sunday Times’ political editor, a fascinating delve in to the Cambridge Analytica story from the journalist who uncovered it and the CEO of Ipsos Mori revealing some eye-opening social research.

The conference was very much an interactive one with demonstration areas utilised by the tech suppliers to highlight the USPs of their products. CIPFA themselves this year included a significant ‘demo zone’ which allowed delegates to try out the latest in anti-fraud software, amongst other offerings. There were also a number of prizes for delegates to win, including a crystal Darth Vader skull full of vodka. I won’t name the supplier as CCS remains neutral in such matters at all times.

CCS had a stand on the main floor of the conference hall which featured representation from the Financial Services and Tech teams. The event also saw the launch of the Financial Services brochure which is a 12 page glossy affair that features the array of offerings available to customers. This was very well received with paper and electronic copies being circulated to those who visited our stand. This was expertly drafted by Jessie Crabtree and gives the Financial Services team an excellent document to entice potential customers with.

The stand did receive a number of queries regarding the new G-Cloud 10 framework and the event itself featured a number of G10 suppliers. Fortunately, we had Stuart Misson to answer questions about all things G-Cloud related as the innovation behind cloud systems was a prominent discussion point at the event.

Conferences such as CIPFA represent an excellent opportunity for CCS to get itself in front of potential customers to inform them of the efficiency and commercial benefits that are available by purchasing goods and services through CCS. There was a misconception amongst some delegates that CCS only offered solutions to CG departments, and it is events such as CIPFA, that allow us to correct misconceptions in person and build new relationships.  

How to get more transport technology for less

I recently attended the UK road industry’s event, Traffex Seeing Is Believing. It had a great mix of supplier stands, conference and transport technology demos.

I enjoyed meeting customers and suppliers alike, and listening to the speakers. When reflecting on the themes I heard on the day, a quote from one of my all time favourite books repeatedly came to mind:

“There is more to you than this, if you have the courage to write it.” Those were the wise words of Friedrich in Little Women.

Neil Gibson, ADEPT and Buckinghamshire County Council, said that the UK road industry is “at the foothills in the development of technology”. By comparison and as an example, the retail industry is streets ahead (no pun intended!) with capturing and intelligently using data.

Neil went on to say that “we are not using technology creatively. It’s a cultural issue. We are not looking at how technology is used in other sectors and applying that knowledge.”

So, what can we do differently?

At CCS, we guide users of our commercial arrangements to focus on the outcomes they wish to achieve. Prescribing the technology to be used can limit innovation.

We suggest making sure that suppliers are aware of what you are trying to achieve before the procurement process starts, so they can think about innovative approaches. Suppliers can span several industries and public sector buyers can draw on this experience.

To use technology to get more for less, courage is required to write a different style of specification.

“There is more to you than this, if you have the courage to write it.”

Want to find out more?

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you with your transport technology requirements, please get in touch.

New public sector travel and venue solutions agreements opens for business

I am pleased to announce our new public sector travel and venue solutions commercial agreements has recently launched. Public Sector Travel and Venue Solutions (RM6016) includes online solutions for rail travel, accommodation and air travel to provide you with a seamless, user-friendly booking experience, which are now similar to booking personal travel for leisure. In addition, you can also access event services, including venue find  as well as the one stop shop Travel Management Company service for both online and offline services.

We have appointed 7 suppliers to deliver services to all public sector customers including local authorities, universities, schools, NHS trusts and the third sector.

Saving you time and money

Our aim is to reduce the cost of travel for you, one way we will do this is through low cost online booking fees and zero online booking fees (applicable across specific solutions) as well as providing you access to a wide network of discounted air fares and accommodation rates available through our Public Sector Negotiated Programmes. This means you can access the same level of discounts as our largest central government organisations, demonstrating true value for money across all of the public sector.

The new suite of solutions offer you choice, commercial value and innovation for all public sector organisations, embracing developments in technology to enhance both the experience for organisations managing travel and for public sector customers booking travel.

Users of PSTVS benefit from a mix of specialist providers, multiple pricing options and a choice of online-only and online-and-offline services.

How to access

Access to the programmes and new travel solutions will be available through our brand new Purchasing Platform – currently known as Digital Travel Solution (DigiTS).

The new digital platform will allow customers to utilise multiple solutions under a single sign-on.

Find out more about Public Sector Travel and Venue Solutions or if you have any questions, please get in touch – we’re happy to help.

CCS pledges support for local digital public services by co-publishing new Local Digital Declaration

I am delighted at CCS being given the opportunity to join partners from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Government Digital Service (GDS) and others including a number of local authorities in co-publishing the new Local Digital Declaration today. The declaration is a cross-sector shared mission, enabling the foundations needed for the future generation of local digital public services.

Here at CCS we are committed to providing the best possible commercial solutions for local authorities to help them meet the needs of citizens, and in doing so keeping the cost of delivering those services down as much as possible. We recognise the key roles that digital technology and techniques can play in achieving this, and so are pleased that collective action is being taken across the sector.

The declaration embodies 5 principles of internet age local public services that local authorities are encouraged to sign up to. These are:

  • We will go further to redesign our services around the needs of the people using them
  • We will ‘fix our plumbing’ to break our dependence on inflexible and expensive technology that doesn’t join up effectively
  • We will design safe, secure and useful ways of sharing information
  • We will demonstrate digital leadership, creating the conditions for genuine organisational transformation to happen
  • We will embed an open culture that values, incentivises and expects digital ways of working from every member of our workforce

Our technology experts are ideally placed to support local authorities in meeting these principles and securing best value. We’re already helping our customers in local government to deliver real digital change to benefit both residents and local businesses:

  • We helped Derby City Council achieve 60% savings on its data centre provision as part of its Cloud First strategy implementation
  • Using the Digital Marketplace, London Borough of Newham Council used the Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) framework to procure a specialist supplier to deliver expertise, working with them to understand and improve the user experience of vital services such as Housing, Homelessness and Children’s Services

You can read the declaration in full on the Local Digital website, which gives more detail on the principles and the commitments set out to lay the foundations for the public services of the future.

Our cloud and digital teams are looking forward to supporting local authorities in achieving the aims that the Local Digital Declaration sets out to achieve. Want to find out more? Get in touch via our contact form quoting ‘Local Digital Declaration’ in the comments box.

Use behavioural insights to help you improve your services

Use of behavioural insights in the public sector is based on one simple idea: policy should be designed around people.

It can help you formulate and deliver your desired outcome by helping you understand how citizens make choices, so that you can tailor your services to meet their needs.

The 4 basic principles of behavioural insights are:

  1. Make it easy
  2. Make it attractive
  3. Make it social
  4. Make it timely

Sounds simple, but as we all know that is not often the case!

So if your organisation is looking for innovative ways to improve policy and service design and delivery, or implement organisational reform, then our new Behavioural Insights framework is ideal for you. It will help you to tap into the very best expertise from a wide range of suppliers, including SMEs.

The services available for you to choose from include:

  • Policy analysis, development and advice
  • Service insight, service design, service delivery and organisational reform
  • Design and implementation of trials
  • Evaluation and reporting of trials
  • Capability building, including the design and delivery of learning activities
  • Thought leadership, including strategic work to review and identify untapped opportunities to apply behavioural insights

To find out more visit the framework web page or get in touch and mention ‘behavioural insights’ in the comments box, along with any questions you have, and we’ll get back to you.

NHS Digital makes big savings on network connectivity

A contract to provide the network connectivity for NHS Digital’s vital systems and services will yield an impressive 70% cost saving; as well as provide NHS Digital with improved Internet connectivity to support increased adoption of Cloud-based services, and cost effective private network connectivity to support access to existing systems.

NHS Digital made use of a new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS), created in collaboration with the Crown Commercial Service, to provide a simple and effective way for health and care organisations to access better value services from a choice of pre-approved suppliers.

The procurement outcome demonstrates the merits of standardising network arrangements and is the result of a vibrant marketplace of suppliers capable of providing high quality, competitively-priced network connectivity via Health and Care Social Network (HSCN) Access Services (RM3825).

Following an open competition, NHS Digital appointed British Telecom as its preferred supplier for connecting its sites and services to the HSCN, which has been developed to support the adoption of more standardised, integrated and cost-effective private and Internet connectivity through a competitive marketplace of suppliers.

NHS Digital is also leading aggregated procurements covering the South West, London, the North East and the South East, which will award shortly. Further individual and regional procurements for HSCN connectivity are due to launch throughout 2018.

NHS Digital is confident that all NHS organisations across England now have mature HSCN procurement plans in place. If you have any questions about your organisation’s HSCN plans you can find out more on the HSCN website or contact the HSCN team at enquiries@nhsdigital.nhs.uk

Vehicle telematics – your answer to driving down costs on fleet management

The use of vehicle telematics can help you reduce your fleet management costs.

In 2016, an iGov survey found that 57% of public sector fleets have already, or plan to, introduce telematics – so what are they, and how can they help your organisation?

What are they?

Vehicle telematics are the key enablers towards mature fleet management. By using telematics, you can monitor the location, movement, status and behaviour of a fleet of vehicles to enable you to analyse processes and optimise your fleet management. It also supports the whole life cost management of vehicles by providing live, operational data.

Typically achieved via a Global Positioning System (GPS), additional telematic features can be employed to record and track driver behaviour and vehicle activity, such as fuel consumption.

Fleet whole life cost model

How can they help my organisation?

Through analysis of contracts let for vehicle telematics, where they haven’t previously been deployed, CCS found that on average for every £1 invested in the telematics contract a £3 cost benefit was achieved. This was often achieved through reduced maintenance costs, lower insurance premiums and/or fewer fixed penalties. 

By using our Vehicle Telematics framework, you could benefit from:

    • Precise collection and analysis of vehicle telematics data
    • Reduced fleet costs
    • Support for employers’ duty of care obligations
    • Increased productivity
    • Improved vehicle security
    • Management of legislative compliance
  • Reduced carbon footprint

How can I get involved?

Whether you are already using telematics or want to introduce this for the first time, our Vehicle Telematics framework (RM3754) can help to ensure you are getting best value.

We know that, for many organisations, you will need to write a business case to demonstrate the benefits versus cost to secure the necessary investment. If you don’t yet have a business case read our guide to developing a business case and the benefits of investment for useful advice, including key considerations to help you get started.

If you have any questions about vehicle telematics or any of our other fleet services, please get in touch – we’re happy to help.

3 great reasons to choose CCS for your contact centre requirements

Join us at our customer forum on 19 July to learn more about how our contact centre services framework can help you.

Contact with public sector organisations is driven by citizens’ need to access a wide range of services, comply with regulation and seek information and guidance. The way citizens want to access and interact with public services continues to evolve at pace.

Growing use of digital solutions and the ever changing social media landscape is increasing the many touch points in people’s lives – and changing the way people want to communicate.

As we celebrate the 1st anniversary of our Contact Centre Services framework, I’d like to invite you to join us on 19 July at our next Contact Centre Public Sector Customer Forum and share with you some insights from our customers and suppliers over the past year…

3 great reasons to choose a best in class solution from CCS

       1. Dedicated CCS category team support from start to finish

We will work closely with you to help you develop your requirements and find a solution that provides you with end-to-end outstanding customer service tailored to your specific needs – now and in the future.

       2. Service improvements and innovation

We’ll help you work with your internal customers and develop strategies to maximise your contact centre services, facilitating market engagement to provide intelligence and insight to inform your thinking. Our market-leading framework suppliers will ensure you achieve service improvements and innovation.

       3. Great operational AND commercial outcomes

Our customers have seen greater operational outcomes and commercial savings of between 10% – 50%.

What our customers say

“The team at CCS has provided invaluable support to aid us through the process…organising a supplier engagement event…it is a pleasure to work with the team.” Money Advice Service

“Provided support at both the project initiation and strategy stages…demonstrating key knowledge in this sector and creative commercial thinking.” Home Office

“Provided insights into not just how to best make use of the framework, but also on contact centres and the market more generally. They advised on how to take advantage of existing opportunities and how we might create opportunities to maximise attractiveness to the market and deliver better value for money.” Department for Education

Join our customer forum

If you are looking to review your contact centre requirements or would like to learn more about the current possibilities, this event is ideal for you.

Taking place in London on 19 July you will have the chance to meet the category team and network with other public sector organisations to share experiences, best practice and the latest thinking.

Our first forum was held in March and brought together 17 organisations representing more than £600m worth of contact centre spend, serviced by more than 30,000 agents.  

If you would like to attend please get in touch stating ‘contact centre forum’ in the comments box.

What our suppliers say

“[CCS team is] professional, dedicated and organised, enabling us to focus our resources on pulling together the best possible tender response and service definition for the ultimate benefit of our clients and their end customers.” BancTec (Exela Tech)

“CCS has encouraged organisations to seek customer service innovation and development in the procurement process through early engagement, so that the best solutions can be developed, encouraging transformation and business change to better service the public’s needs.” HGS

“We are seeing lots of opportunities emerge from across the public sector, enabling us to better focus our resources and investments to create winning solutions and propositions for our new and existing customers.” Serco

“The early market engagement sessions have provided a great opportunity to impart our knowledge and experience, enabling us to fully understand the specific requirements and create tailored solutions aligned to the service needs [of potential customers].” Teleperformance

Get in touch

If you would like to attend the forum on 19 July reserve your place today.

If you can’t make the event and you would like to discuss how we can help you please get in touch quoting ‘contact centres’ in comments box.

You can also learn more about the framework by visiting the framework page.

What are you doing to help improve air quality?

Why is air quality important?

Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. Studies show that long-term exposure to air pollution reduces life expectancy by increasing deaths from lung, heart, and circulatory conditions. However, short-term exposure to high levels of air pollution is just as dangerous. It can make asthma worse and have a negative impact on lung function, all resulting in increased hospital admissions and mortality.

This is why the government directed local authorities to carry out studies into reducing air pollution in their areas, in the shortest time possible.

To support local authorities, a £220 million Clean Air Fund was launched in March 2018.

How can we help?

Here at CCS our Traffic Management Technology 2 framework aligns with the air quality strategy, meaning we can help you with all of your pollution monitoring needs, as well as innovative solutions for data management and Clean Air Zone enforcement.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch or call our customer service centre on 0345 410 2222.

We’re replacing MISO

Every month, CCS receives over 8000 MI returns from suppliers, through a system called Management Information System Online (MISO).

We’ve recognised that MISO is at the end of its life and this presents challenges for suppliers. It’s built on outdated technology and suppliers regularly tell us it is not easy to use. We have listened to this feedback and over the last few months, we’ve been working with dxw digital to help us develop a new service to replace MISO.

We’ve undertaken user research with suppliers and the team at CCS who support the service, and have built and tested a prototype of the replacement.

We’ve analysed data from the current system to get more of an understanding of how people are using it, when peak times are, and what errors they are receiving. At the same time, we analysed the returns made over the last few years to get a sense of what might be the best way to segment returns to create a migration plan.

We’re now starting work on building a minimum viable service which we’ll be trialling with a small number of suppliers later this year.

In addition to the online service, we’re working to simplify the templates, and reducing the amount of information, that suppliers complete each month.  We’ll be talking more about this in the coming weeks.

User research and prototyping

Since late last year, we’ve been conducting research with suppliers to look at how they collate the data for their monthly submissions and how they use the existing MISO service.

Our suppliers told us that collating the information in the way that the current system needs was a particular pain point.

They also told us that the usability of the MISO service, particularly the error messages that they receive when completing their templates and submitting a return, are unhelpful. Additionally, performance issues around submission deadlines make the process much more difficult.

We’ve used this research to help us develop a prototype that we’ve shown to around a dozen suppliers so far. We’ve received positive feedback that it makes the submission process much simpler.

Next week we’ll talk more about how we took the learnings from the research and prototype to create a new task-based approach to completing returns.

What’s next

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be blogging more about the work we’re doing, and what the changes will mean for suppliers.

We’ll also be publishing a roadmap of new features for the service, and the plan to roll out the service to suppliers and frameworks.

How we’re improving our customer service for you

Last year, following an extensive review of our customer service processes, we established a new customer service centre to act as a first point of contact for all customers, regardless of the nature of their enquiry.

We’ve been working hard to shape this new service to ensure it meets your needs and that CCS is easy to do business with – not just for today but also when planning ahead for the future.

So I wanted to tell you a bit more about what we have been doing…

The right people here to help you

We’ve recruited the best people into the team, bringing together a wealth of customer service experience from a wide range of roles and sectors.

We delivered an extensive training programme to everyone in the team, covering all products and services and equipping our customer service advisors and subject matter experts with the right level of knowledge and understanding of procurement processes.

Listening and learning

We’ve been getting to know our customers better, finding out what you think about our services – what we’re doing well and areas we can improve. Last year we received more than 1,000 responses to our customer survey, and whilst our Net Promoter Score (NPS) of +36 indicates that we are providing a good service, your feedback is the key driver behind the development of a clear customer service strategy that will shape our service further.  

You told us you wanted a single place to go for support…

You can now contact our centralised customer service centre via:

Please update your CCS contact email address to info@crowncommercial.gov.uk. Our aim is to resolve your enquiries as quickly as possible or ensure a specialist team responds, where necessary.  

You told us you wanted a quicker response to your enquiries…

Last year the customer service centre received more than 185,000 enquiries:

  • 91% of these were resolved at first point of contact
  • 94% of calls were answered within 60 seconds
  • 90% of email enquiries were responded to within 24 hours

What’s next?

We’re making CCS even easier to do business with – we want to answer even more of your queries at first point of contact, through further training and collaboration across CCS. This will ensure you have a single place to go where you know you will get an answer to your enquiry – and if we can’t answer your query we will get you to the right person quickly.

Commitment to a consistent, high standard of service – we are developing a quality assurance model to ensure that when we answer your enquiry we get it right first time. Your survey feedback plays a key role in this, alongside our quality monitoring of enquiry responses and frequent liaison with all areas of our business to ensure we provide a consistent and high quality response.

Improved customer experience and satisfaction – the majority of enquiries received are now routed through our Salesforce CRM system. This, together with customer survey feedback, enables us to develop in-depth customer insight providing a more accurate understanding of what you want from us, now and in the future. We will use this information to support development of the services that we provide at first point of contact, improving customer satisfaction, providing outstanding customer service and enabling the delivery of more tailored solutions that meet your requirements.

If we can help you with anything at all, don’t forget the 3 key ways to reach our customer service centre

Another great Procurex North

Travelling to events around the country and meeting with huge numbers of dedicated and passionate public sector professionals and suppliers is one of the best parts of my role at CCS. Last week myself and colleagues had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of such people at the Procurex North in Manchester.

I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who came to our stand or listened to one of our sessions, it was great to meet so many people.

Procurex North

In the main conference theatre our Chief Executive Malcolm Harrison spoke and outlined four key areas that he views as being key to CCS’ future success. These include a move towards digital procurement services, which is where the Crown Marketplace provides so many opportunities; a focus on collaborating with the wider public sector to ensure we can offer them the most value when procuring common goods and services; investing in the skills and talent of our people and continuing to support SMEs through public spending. If you missed Malcolm at Procurex North, here are the presentation slides.

We also hosted a dedicated CCS showcase theatre and stand, where my colleagues presented on a range of topics:

  • What we’ve learnt and how we are changing – Nick Caton, Head of Wider Public Sector, Crown Commercial Service
  • No more excuses for not moving to cloud – Chris Short, Crown Commercial Service & Steve Hall, CEO Crown Hosting Data Centres, Ark Data Centres
  • Procurement policy update – Francesca Livesey, Policy and Public Sector, Crown Commercial Service
  • Making bidding easier – Andie Brookes, Crown Commercial Service

View their slide decks.

Here at CCS we’re committed to helping you achieve your procurement goals and saving you time and money, which means you can focus on the things that really matter – like helping protect frontline services and delivering your social value agendas.

If there is anything we can help you with or if you want to be kept up to date on the latest news, please fill in our enquiry form.

Shaping the future for electronic vehicle charging

I mentioned in my previous blog following the Smart Cities conference that although smart city transformation is expanding throughout the UK, cities still face major challenges in making this vision reality.

With smart city technology being adopted across a range of sectors, citizens are now able to make more informed decisions. One of the key challenges is the implementation of charging infrastructure and wireless charging for electric vehicles.

In order to ensure that local government are able to reach their goals, effective collaboration is essential as it will ensure that our resources are being used as efficiently as possible.

Innovate UK and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles are running three workshops on 30th April (Manchester), 1st May (Bristol) and 3rd May (London); where they will work with key parties interested to identify how support could be best directed for innovation in urban systems and designs to provide electronic vehicle charging infrastructure for on-street parking & wireless charging across the UK.

If you are interested in attending the consultation event, please register to indicate your interest.

Here at CCS our Traffic Management Technology 2 framework aligns with the smart cities agenda, meaning we can help you with all of your electronic vehicle charging infrastructure needs as well as an end to end digital solution for traffic management.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch.

Can we help you with your apprenticeship training?

I was pleased to support National Apprenticeship Week last month, celebrating the success of apprenticeships and how they benefit people, businesses, communities and our economy.

The value of apprenticeships

I see first-hand how much young people achieve from undertaking an apprenticeship as my daughter and son are currently serving apprenticeships with HMRC and BT. I also work with apprentices across CCS, and I am proud to see the societal impact and economic benefits of our work.

Apprenticeships represent an excellent investment for public sector employers, delivering significant benefits for the taxpayer. Did you know apprenticeships provide a typical return of £26–£28 for every £1 of investment at levels 2 and 3?

How we can help

Accessing Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) registered apprenticeship training can be complex and costly, which is why we developed our Apprenticeship Training and Related Services framework (RM3823). It covers 12 common curriculum areas of apprenticeship training, and is designed to help you set up your own apprenticeship programmes efficiently and effectively, supporting the development of the next generation of public sector workers.

Over the last few months the framework has generated c. 500 apprenticeship starts, with many more in the pipeline, which will support the public sector targets.

Why use the framework?

Choosing to use our framework to support your apprenticeship training will ensure that you are:

  • Compliant with public procurement regulations, ESFA Apprenticeships Funding and Performance Management Rules
  • Getting great value – on average, the prices paid through the framework are 22% below the upper limits on apprenticeship charges set by the ESFA
  • Using a standardised general specification of requirements, with pre-agreed terms and conditions
  • Supporting SMEs – 6 suppliers out of 16 prime suppliers are SMEs (38%), with a further 6 SMEs in the supply chains

What does the framework offer?

  • Apprenticeship Levy advice and guidance
  • Development and delivery of apprenticeship training curriculum and programmes
  • Robust processes to support the development of apprenticeship programmes across your organisation
  • An Individual Learner Record (ILR) and portal which enables authorised users to log the progress of the training and development of the apprentice throughout the scheme
  • End Point Assessment process leading to the award of a certificate of apprenticeship by a third party certification body
  • Future-proofing by allowing additional new apprenticeships standards

What types of apprentice training can you buy?

Training is broken down into the following areas:

  • Leadership & management
  • Project management
  • Operational delivery
  • Human resources
  • Finance & tax
  • Digital
  • Customer service
  • Commercial
  • Business administration
  • Property
  • Higher level leadership
  • Higher level digital

Find out more

To learn more about the framework and how to access it:

Visit the framework page

Get in touch

Call us on 0345 410 2222

You may also like to know I am working on a strategy to launch a new commercial solution with a wider scope later this year. Watch this space for more details…

Boost productivity with technology products from the Purchasing Platform

Public sector organisations can save time and money by purchasing all of their technology needs on our Purchasing Platform. Through simple hacks, the technology we work with every day can boost productivity in the office significantly – here are our top tips to make technology work for you:

Smartphones

Smartphones and the use of smartphone apps for business have connected colleagues in new ways, and employees are increasingly using apps for business on their phones. Innovation, flexibility and an improvement in collaboration are all side effects stemming from greater use of smartphones amongst colleagues.

Use two monitors

It takes about 1.5 seconds to move the mouse and click to switch between documents. Two monitors can help to complete tasks in a shorter space of time and dual monitors have been proven to improve productivity. Tasks that can be made shorter by using two monitors include data entry, graphic design and project comparison.

Learn the keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a great timesaver when working at your laptop or computer. There are shortcuts for almost every application – so taking the time to learn shortcuts on the programs you use most is a worthy investment.

Purchase your tech products via the Purchasing Platform

There are over 350,000 total items currently listed on site. The Purchasing Platform has seen over 800 Samsung Galaxy smartphones sold over the past three months, ‘Dell LED monitors’ have been one of the platforms’ most popular search terms, and silver Apple iPads with 32GB memory have proven a most sought after item.**

To benefit from significant cost savings, register for the Purchasing Platform today.

*according to ONS

*stats from Power BI analytics

Thank you for another great Procurex South

Travelling to events around the country and meeting with huge numbers of dedicated and passionate public sector professionals and suppliers is one of the best parts of my role at CCS. Last week myself and colleagues had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of such people at the Procurex South in London. I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who came to our stand or listened to one of our sessions yesterday. It was great to meet so many people.

Stand pic

In the main conference theatre our Chief Executive Malcolm Harrison spoke and outlined four key areas that he views as being key to CCS’ future success. These include a move towards digital procurement services, which is where the Crown Marketplace provides so many opportunities; a focus on collaborating with the wider public sector to ensure we can offer them the most value when procuring common goods and services; investing in the skills and talent of our people and continuing to support SMEs through public spending. If you missed Malcolm at Procurex South, here are the presentation slides.

We also hosted a dedicated CCS showcase theatre and stand, where my colleagues presented on a range of topics:

  • Procurement 101 – Nick Caton, Head of Wider Public Sector, Crown Commercial Service
  • No more excuses for not moving to cloud – Niall Quinn, Director of Technology, Crown Commercial Service & Steve Hall, CEO Crown Hosting Data Centres, Ark Data Centres
  • Procurement policy update – David Gigg, Policy and Public Sector, Crown Commercial Service
  • Making bidding easier – Francesca Pomlett, Senior Policy Advisor, Crown Commercial Service

View their slide decks.

Here at CCS we’re committed to helping you achieve your procurement goals and saving you time and money, which means you can focus on the things that really matt

Health workforce update

There’s a lot to tell you about our activity to support you with your workforce needs this month. In this blog you can find out more about staff banks, in particular developing a collaborative bank in your region, our NHS Improvement approval, data packs and our new customer steering board…

Staff banks

Following the NHS Improvement target to have a staff bank in place by March 2018, we hosted a series of workshops during January and February. Designed to help trusts reduce reliance on agency staff and increase use of staff banks to meet the target, we were delighted to welcome 60 NHS trusts to the workshops in Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and London.

If you were unable to attend or would like further support setting up or improving your staff bank please get in touch, quoting ‘staff banks’ in the comments box.

Learn more about our Workforce Management framework.

We’re also helping a number of groups of trusts, including Lancashire, Hertfordshire and Sheffield Teaching hospitals, who are working toward a collaborative staff bank. Collaboration is encouraged by NHS Improvement as a way of controlling prices in a geographical area and sharing of staff grades. If you are interested in finding out more about how we can support your area, please get in touch, quoting ‘collaborative staff banks’ in the comments box.

Customer steering board

We are starting to develop our future strategy for the next generation of commercial workforce solutions for the NHS. We want to ensure we can help you effectively engage and manage substantive and flexible bank and agency staff.

If you would like to get involved in the development of this strategy, why not become a member of our new customer board? You will be able to help us thoroughly understand the challenges you are facing, test our ideas on new approaches, and inform the strategic direction of our new commercial agreements.

Our first customer board is taking place in London on 22 March. If you would like to attend please get in touch, quoting ‘NHS customer board’ in the comments box and we will send you further details of timings and location.

If you are unable to join us on 22 March and would like to get involved, please still get in touch.

NHS Improvement approval

We are pleased to confirm that all of our staffing frameworks have been approved by NHS Improvement for another year. Our continued approval status is an integral part of being able to operate as a framework owner in the health market and we are delighted to once again have been successful in our submission.

To recap, our approved staffing frameworks are:

Data packs

We are now able to produce data packs to help you to track your spend, analyse your performance and monitor adherence to NHS Improvement capped rates. If you don’t yet receive this data and would like to please get in touch, stating which framework(s) you are interested in in the comments box. We will put you in touch with the relevant commercial (framework) agreement manager(s) who will contact you to discuss your requirement.

Get in touch

As well as filling in our online form to tell us how we can help you, you can also call us on 0345 410 2222 or email info@crowncommercial.gov.uk. You can also visit the pages for our workforce frameworks using the links above.

Maximising social value through your procurement

Social Value UK is the national network for anyone interested in social value and social impact. In this blog post, Catherine Manning, Membership and Networks Manager at Social Value UK, explores how you can take steps to maximise the social value you can create through your procurement.

What is social value?

Social value is the relative importance that people place on economic, environmental and social changes they experience in their lives. Changes in people’s lives are outcomes that are created, both good and bad, through the activities that we do. We can work to increase the good changes and decrease the bad changes.

How can you positively impact social value?

Measuring the impact and changes being made from current activity, through involving the stakeholders experiencing the change, will give you a baseline for your current social value. This information can then be used to look at the most effective ways to make positive changes.

How can you report on social value?

At Social Value UK (SVUK) we advocate a principle based framework to account for social value, with the long-term aim to change the way social value is accounted for in procurement through the principles, practice, people and power model.

Using these principles you can begin to ask the right questions to understand the impact you already have. More importantly for commissioning, they will help you understand the impact that you want to have.

Why include social value in procurement?

Goods and services that affect people’s lives are procured on a daily basis. Resources are allocated to activities that create and destroy social value every day. The aim is to maximise the positive outcomes, whilst minimising the negative outcomes from any procured activity.

How can you change things?

Identify the right outcomes for a framework by asking the right questions, to the right people, at the right time, during the procurement process.

It is clearly more difficult to maximise social value the further away you are from the people experiencing the change, because of the separation of the service and impact. But it is not impossible.

Key questions to consider include:

  • How much social value are you creating already? It is difficult to know whether it could be higher if you don’t know what you are already creating. Start with a baseline. Is the value additional, or is it embedded into the service itself? Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) offers will already have an impact on amounts of social value delivered, with key elements already built and scope for more to be delivered, depending on your commissioning choices.
  • Did anyone else contribute to creating the social value? You should consider this as part of the design process. Suppliers should review it as part of their service delivery.
  • What would have happened anyway? It is difficult to maximise your impact if some of what you claim as social value, would have happened anyway. You can monitor overall change by encouraging suppliers to engage their user groups.
  • What is the relative importance of the outcomes? Without considering the relative importance to the beneficiary or customer experiencing the change it will be very difficult to design and deliver procurements that maximise social value. You can consider this as part of a needs assessment. Suppliers can use this to improve their services and evidence how they are doing this.
  • Who answers these questions? This is key as it is difficult to maximise social value if those affected aren’t involved in telling you what the outcomes are for them.

How can you support suppliers in achieving the outcomes with the most value?

To achieve the desired outcomes, we must all work together. Some actions you can take to support your suppliers include:

  • Hold pre-market discussions – have open conversations with potential suppliers and CCS to better understand what social value can be provided. Use this to inform your procurement.
  • Build social value into your contract registers – supply the right information, and give enough time for planning and creation of partnerships, systems etc.
  • Deliver training for local businesses – help them to respond meaningfully. Use local business connections (e.g. Chambers of Commerce) throughout the process.
  • Have clear, enforceable criteria with weighting – do your systems and documents include social value? Can you enforce what you’re asking for?
  • Ask the right questions – by using the principles model you and your suppliers will have the framework for measuring, managing and maximising the social value you create.
  • Encourage innovation – expect your suppliers to change and develop the services they provide, and build this into the service lifecycle. Be careful to avoid stifling innovation through over-specifying how to deliver the contract; getting feedback from users on regular basis will provide opportunities to innovate.

This is a learning process. The point of measuring social value is to understand your current social value and improve your services over time, increasing your net positive social value. This can only be done through partnership working, collaborating with your suppliers and service users. Use tools and resources that already exist to help you. We are all on a journey to create the most social value for our society; we do not need to do it alone.

SVUK is a hub for information, resources and services to support you.

To find out more or sign up to their newsletter please visit the Social Value UK website.

Learn more about how CCS is taking steps to put social value at the heart of procurement.

Got a question for CCS? Please get in touch.

Education sector specific pricing now available with the click of a mouse

Getting all your immediate technology product needs is as easy as clicking your mouse thanks to the Purchasing Platform from CCS. We have now introduced education sector pricing to ensure your money goes even further when purchasing your technology requirements.

As an Education user on the Purchasing Platform, when you search for a product you will now see both the standard pricing and the educational pricing, where this is available. Where the standard and educational price are the same, you will only see the standard price listed. If the educational price is higher than the standard price, you will still be able to purchase at the cheaper standard price. That way you can always be sure you are getting the best available price. Buying from the Purchasing Platform can mean an average 8% saving and on some products and as high as 30% compared with Amazon. Prices are updated daily to ensure you are always getting best value.

The addition of Education sector pricing is another example of the Purchasing Platform promoting best value buying. It is already a great benchmarking tool which means there is no need to hunt around getting 3 quotes. We’ve done all the hard price comparison work for you, and on most products you will immediately get at least 3 prices and an industry benchmark price indicating a market target  price for that day. Along with the addition of the educational discounts and access to a wide range of suppliers, the Purchasing Platform is a great way to source all you immediate technology needs.

It is totally free to use, with pre-agreed terms and conditions with suppliers, and if you have any questions CCS is here to help you. You can buy with confidence as we’ve done all the due diligence checks to ensure all suppliers are assured, audited and financially secure. Use your ePCS card and you may even benefit from end of year rebates.

So to start benefiting from the Purchasing Platform – sign-up today and start transforming your procurement in a click.

Join the conversation  – follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for all the latest news on the Purchasing Platform.

A review of Smart Cities 2018 conference

Last week I attended the Smart Cities 2018 conference – I found it really informative and enjoyed hearing more about the future vision for making cities smarter and more sustainable. Although smart city transformation is expanding throughout the UK, cities still face major challenges in making this vision reality.

What is meant by ‘smart cities’?

A smart city is a place where the traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies, for the benefit of its inhabitants and businesses.

The use of smart phones, smart watches, connected vehicles and digital assistants is continually increasing. Smart cities utilises these connections and combines information from these sources, together with traditional networks and services, to transform the way citizens conduct their day-to-day lives.

Dougal Shaw, BBC World Hacks, said that such technology allows you to “make rational decisions about your life in the city”.

Why is it important?

Nathan Pierce, Greater London Authority, articulated that the Local Government’s aim is to “make citizens’ lives better by making sure they are happy, healthy and occupied”. With the prediction that nearly 70% of the UK population will live in cities by 2050; achieving that aim may be a challenge.

During the course of the day, some startling statistics were revealed by the speakers:

  • 50,000 deaths in the UK are related to air pollution
  • 30% of traffic is caused by drivers looking for parking
  • By being online, people are £500-700 better off each year

What can we do?

With smart city technology being adopted across a range of sectors, citizens are now able to make more informed decisions. But to build on this, and to assist Local Government in reaching their goal, effective collaboration is essential to ensure that our resources are being used as efficiently as possible.

Some common topics of interest at the conference were air quality, data and traffic management. All of which are areas that we can help with:

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch or call our customer service centre on 0345 410 2222.

Is your procurement team ready for the next financial year?

I know light nights may still seem like they’re light years away right now, but spring really will be with us before we know it – it’s just a matter of weeks. And that means only 8 weeks before the start of the new financial year.

We want to help you make your procurement as effective and efficient as possible in 2018/19, so here are the 5 questions I’d urge you to be thinking about as you prepare for the next financial year:

1. Are your data processing contracts ready to comply with the new data protection legislation (GDPR)?

From 25 May you must comply with the new rules or face hefty fines. We’ve recently published a Procurement Policy Note to help inform you of your responsibilities. Read more in this blog from Emma Gallacher, Head of Domestic Policy.

2. Have you considered a financial audit?

We’ve just launched a new Spend Analysis and Recovery Services framework to help you recover funds by identifying overpayments and duplicate payments.

The use of spend recovery services is commonplace in the private sector, not just to identify and recover valuable funds, but also to understand where to make process improvements to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Under the framework, accountancy and audit specialists with expertise across areas like utilities, telecoms and VAT will work with you on a “no-win-no-fee” basis. They will analyse your financial transactions and commercial agreements to identify monies that could be recovered. They will then recover them for you, and make recommendations so you can take steps to avoid such issues in the future.

We estimate that over £220 million could be recovered across the public sector over the next 4 years. With no upfront investment required, can you afford to miss out?

Take the next step to setting up a financial audit.  

3. Can you take advantage of compliant procurement in minutes?

Did you know that our Purchasing Platform offers you access to compliant, direct award solutions for technology products, office supplies and multi-functional devices for printing, copying and scanning?

There’s no need to run a further competition as click and buy catalogues mean you can buy in minutes. It’s ideal if you have urgent requirements before the end of the financial year or need to quickly buy a small number of relatively low value products – whether as a one off purchase or on a regular basis.

As well as offering a speedy procurement solution, you can expect to make great savings – up to 30% on technology products, 50% on office supplies and 15% on multi-functional devices.

Register now and learn more.

4. Have you considered aggregation to help you maximise your buying power?

You may have already seen information about our free to use aggregation service, but I wanted to mention it again here as we really can help you make great savings.

By combining your requirements with other public and third sector organisations, we can not only help you make great savings, but also save you precious time as we will do all the hard work for you. If you don’t know much about our aggregation service take 2 minutes to watch our film to find out how it works.

We’ve got several great opportunities coming up, from fuels and fleet to mobile voice and data services so get involved now.

5. Are you telling us how we can help you?

To be your procurement provider of choice we know we need to create the right commercial solutions to meet your needs. With such a wide ranging customer base from charities and schools through local councils and universities to NHS trusts and central government departments, this is not always as easy as it sounds!

I’d urge you to get involved in the many opportunities we offer you to have your say – whether that is by joining a stakeholder group, responding to a survey or attending an event or webinar.

We really value your input and your collaboration goes a very long way to making sure we develop the solutions you need. Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter to get details of all the latest opportunities delivered straight into your inbox.

If I can help you with any of these topics – or indeed anything else – please get in touch.

And if you or your colleagues would like to learn more about how CCS can help you, why not join an Introduction to CCS webinar? These short 30 minute sessions will give you an overview of how we work and the buying options we offer.

A successful CCS Construction Works industry day

On Wednesday 14 February, we hosted the first of our engagement events for the new Construction Works Contractors commercial agreement – the largest procurement opportunity ever developed by CCS. The event also saw discussion of the 4-year Modular Solutions agreement, due to be awarded in summer 2018.

The day was split into two parts. The morning session hosted prospective customers, including government departments, arm’s length bodies, local authorities and other wider public sector bodies. In the afternoon, more than 150 representatives from interested suppliers packed into the conference room.

Both groups watched presentations by the Buildings strategic category team, and took part in an interactive session and a lengthy Q&A.

For each session, we used the interactive presentation software, Menti, to give attendees the opportunity to feedback on key aspects that will inform the development of the agreements. Each part also ended with a question and answer session featuring a panel of the Buildings team that are responsible for designing and rolling out the new agreements.

Details of the outcomes of the Q&A sessions and slide decks are now available on the CCS procurement pipeline pages for Construction Works Contractors.

Presentations

Both sessions began with presentations explaining how the agreements will help to deliver on the government’s strategic priorities around construction, and setting out the huge opportunity the agreements represent for prospective suppliers.

Sam Ulyatt, Strategic Category Commercial Director, provided an overview of the work of CCS including the 17 different key areas of the Buildings pillar. Other CCS agreements including Project Management and Full Design Team Services and the forthcoming phase 1 of the FM Marketplace will dovetail with Construction Works to provide a full, end-to-end solution.

Sam also explained CCS’s policy priorities around small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), prompt payment, simplification and transparency through open contracting – all of which will be taken into account in the design of the new agreements.

 

‘There have been catastrophes in this industry. We need to pull together and put infrastructure back where it belongs.’ Sam Ulyatt

 

Sam committed CCS to being as open and transparent as possible in how it engages with the market, and talked about how CCS wants to work with customers and suppliers to develop agreements which serve the construction landscape as a whole.

Kevin Murray, Head of Property and Construction at CCS, went further into the detail of how the new agreement was being developed.

Kevin explained that CCS has been working closely with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs on the launch of the department’s Fit Out framework – CCS’s first foray into on-site construction work. With CCS’s help, the agreement took less than 6 months to put in place – from contract notice to award.

‘We have structured our strategy around three main offerings: construction works, products, and services.’ Kevin Murray

 

Looking more widely at the public sector landscape for construction procurement, Kevin pointed out that there are going to be less frameworks in the market in the near future, creating some big potential advantages for industry and the public sector.

Again, CCS has been working cooperatively to develop the new solutions, including with the Construction Leadership Council and with King’s College, London. CCS believes that there is a need to link considerations of building construction with that of ongoing performance.

‘We consult with the Infrastructure and Projects Authority regularly. With the departments who have frameworks expiring, there is going to be strong demand to support the figures in the PIN.’ Kevin Murray

 

Offsite construction was discussed at length, with reference to it being at the forefront of the government’s thinking around delivering on the Industrial Strategy. Kevin also highlighted the potential importance of project bank accounts, using unamended, standard forms of building contract, and ensuring that strong focus remains on improving health and safety and the reinforcement of fair payment terms.

Kevin provided an overview of CCS’s relevant frameworks in the construction arena, including Building Materials. He discussed the importance of ensuring a pipeline of work would be in place, and that the progression towards greater use of offsite construction will be supported by the inclusion of commercial agreements for construction management. This will give customers the option to use main contractors to engage the off-site manufacturers, and for customers to contract directly with off-site manufacturers, with on-site assembly overseen by a construction manager.  

‘There is a big focus in government now on value, and that is going to be at the heart of what we do.’ Kevin Murray

 

Find out more

If you missed this event – don’t worry. Due to high demand, there are further events being planned in Birmingham and London. Dates and times will follow. 

Contact us: construction@crowncommercial.gov.uk

Visit the following pages for the latest news on the developing solutions:

Construction Works Contractors pipeline page

Modular Building Solutions and Off-site Construction

UPDATED: New data protection legislation is coming – how to ensure data processing contracts comply with the law

The EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 will come into force on 25 May, the aim of which is to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches by putting stricter obligations on those who process personal data. The new regulations apply to all organisations operating in the EU that control and process personal data, both public and private, as well as those operating outside the EU that offer services to individuals in the EU.

What is GDPR?

The GDPR applies to data processing, which includes collecting, keeping, using, passing on and deleting personal data. It requires that individuals be given more information about how their personal data will be used through ‘enhanced privacy notices’, and gives individuals stronger rights to have their personal data updated, deleted or shared with them if they request it. Importantly, the systems used by organisations must be able to honour these rights, and organisations will need to keep a record of all personal data processing activities, and ensure that their contracts with suppliers contain specific clauses governing data processing by third parties.  

What action should I take on contracts to ensure they are compliant?

GDPR will apply to new contracts let on or after 25 May and also to existing contracts put in place before May 2018 that continue after 25 May, that involve data processing.

The new regulations state that any processing of personal data by a ‘processor’ (e.g. a supplier which processes personal data on behalf of a customer) must be governed by a contract. This contract must include certain terms as specified in the regulation itself.  

We have recently published a Procurement Policy Note (PPN) to inform you of your responsibilities – read the advice in the PPN here.

The PPN contains guidance on how to bring your existing and new contracts into line with these new requirements and provides a standard generic clause that can be inserted into contracts.

Please note the PPN was updated on 17 January to correct an error in clause 1.13.

The main actions to take include:

  • writing to your suppliers to notify them of the changes you intend to make to relevant contracts to make them compliant with the new data protection regulations
  • conducting due diligence on existing contracts to ensure suppliers can implement the appropriate technical and organisational measures to comply with GDPR
  • updating your contract specification and service delivery schedules to set out clearly the roles and responsibilities of the controller and the processor and any sub-processors
  • updating relevant contract terms and conditions, using the standard generic clauses provided in Annex A of PPN 03/17.

What about CCS commercial agreements – will they be updated too?

We are working hard to ensure all relevant existing and new commercial agreements are updated in line with the new regulations, that suppliers are well informed of our plans, and that customers will be able to access GDPR compliant deals as soon as possible.  

The role of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

There is a risk the ICO will issue fines to organisations found not to be compliant with GDPR. Commercial teams should work closely with their data protection leads in their organisations to ensure a seamless transition to GDPR compliant data processing.

Got a question? Please get in touch.

 

Why understanding your property assets can save you time and money

The Facilities Management (FM) Services framework (RM1056) has been live for over two years now, and as we prepare to go to market for a replacement framework we wanted to share with you one of the biggest lessons that we have learned.

It’s really important that to support your future planning you have a full understanding of what property assets you own, what condition they are in and what is needed to keep them in optimum condition.  Our biggest lesson is the importance of holding an up to date asset register.

The benefits

An accurate, up-to date asset register will ensure that you will benefit from:

  • Accurate and up-to-date fixed asset data to help you with accounting, financial and other reporting and management decision making
  • Improved pricing from suppliers, as it will be based on more accurate data
  • Control over asset inventory and movement, as well as maintenance, from procurement/acquisition right through to disposal
  • Improved risk management
  • Better property lifecycle planning and full sight of future financial liabilities

Are you confident that you hold an accurate and up-to-date asset register?  If not, you may want to consider an asset survey, to identifying the actual assets you have in place and what requires maintaining. A survey will typically include all the mechanical, electrical and maintainable building fabric assets, so that maintenance plans can be developed. A condition survey can also be done to identify your current baseline performance against which future liabilities and maintenance regimes can be developed for inclusion in your next facilities management contract.

How we can help you

Lot 4 of our Estates Professional Services framework (RM3816) can help you develop your asset register with:

  • Asset verification and condition surveys including estimated replacement, maintenance timescales and financial analysis of current services

When you come to re-compete your FM contract, this framework can also help support you through the procurement process with:

  • Procurement strategy development, including a holistic view of property related requirements such as social value
  • Procurement and project management advice
  • Compiling asset information when preparing to run procurements
  • Managing the procurement process, including award recommendation and overseeing the contract mobilisation process

To find out more about how we can help you improve your FM contract, please visit the Estates Professional Services framework page.

Got a question about we can help you understand the true value of your assets? Please get in touch.

Our round-up of a successful Academies Show 2017

Thank you to those of you who took the time to visit us at the The Academies Show last week. I certainly enjoyed meeting so many representatives from schools and academies and having the time to chat about your challenges when buying goods and services and how we can help you.

I had a number conversations about our energy frameworks so I’d like to take this opportunity to provide some further information, our Energy for Schools page includes guidance on our energy deals including a video webinar.

We were delighted with the turnout for our workshop session in the Business, Finance and Benchmarking theatre where our experts discussed ‘Exploring the best deals for schools to make significant savings’. The session was run by Chris Illman, Senior Category Lead – Aggregation, Liz Woods – Category Lead for Information Content Management and Office Services, and Rob Whitehead, Category Lead – Technology Products and Services.

The workshop covered:

  • An overview of some of the best CCS benchmarked deals for schools
  • How buying through CCS can help you to achieve savings, increase efficiency and ultimately improve teaching outcomes
  • Discussions on our online Purchasing Platform for technology products, buying multifunctional devices (MFDs) and how schools can join together to save time and increase savings

Don’t worry if you missed the session, you can view the slides to see what was discussed.

To find out more about how we’re helping customers like you, visit our schools and academies page and if there is anything at all we can help you with please get in touch.

CCS at the Public Sector Show

As the UK’s largest public sector procurement organisation we were delighted to once again support the Public Sector Show in Manchester, and I want to thank everyone who came to our stand or listened to one of our sessions yesterday.

In the main conference theatre I spoke about delivering commercial benefits through better procurement. If you didn’t get a chance join me, here are my slides. 

We also hosted a dedicated CCS theatre where my colleagues presented on a range of topics:

  • David Gigg and Francesca Livesey from our policy implementation team presented a session on using social value criteria to run and evaluate your procurement.
  • Chris Illman and Viv Roberts from our aggregation team spoke about the benefits of collaboration.
  • Steve Carter, Supplier Adoption Lead, spoke about how the Crown Marketplace programme is transforming public procurement with a click.
  • John Malone, Head of Trading and Kate Beckingham, Head of Utilities discussed why customers choose CCS for their utilities & fuels.

View their slide decks.

We’re committed to working closely with you to help you achieve your procurement goals, so that you can focus on the things that really matter – like delivering your local and social value agendas and helping protect frontline services.

Explore the full range of commercial deals we have available to help you save time and money.

We’ve also just released details of our latest aggregation project for IT hardware. If you are looking to buy IT hardware before the end of the financial year I’d encourage you to get involved. You’ve got until 15 December to sign up.

We’re here to help you make great savings – if there is anything we can help you with please fill in our enquiry form and we’ll be in touch to help you.

 

Cloud computing – You are not alone

Did you know a large number of councils have no Cloud IT strategy and 61% of councils (including 45% of the top 100) have no cloud IT policy?

The majority of councils still hold most data on site – 69% of councils (77% of small councils) hold 75% or more of their data on premise

Source: Up in the Air: The state of the cloud adoption in local government in 2016, eduserv.org.uk

More and more authorities are embarking on digital transformation programmes to enhance delivery of services to citizens and businesses, be more cost effective and allow authorities to work flexibly. This is against a backdrop of increased demand and expectations for public services and continued financial constraints. Therefore, there is a need for balance between ensuring good quality public services and delivering efficiency gains.

Cloud computing offers many benefits to local authorities including flexibility, reduced lifetime costs, security and disaster recovery to name but a few.

The G-Cloud 9 framework, launched earlier this year, is committed to obtaining best value from suppliers, has transparent pricing, involves a simple short list process and, following feedback from our customers, has an extended term. CCS has worked with a number of local authorities to navigate this potentially complex environment including Havant Borough Council. Read their story.

Full cloud adoption can take time, resources and expertise to implement which is why CCS also offers hybrid solutions such as Crown Hosting Services. This framework, which is a joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Ark, supports the first few steps towards transformation. It immediately benefits Local Authority transformation processes by allowing you to choose the infrastructure or service that delivers the best value at any given point, and over time, until it is right to fully transition to the cloud.

Find out how Derby City Council made 60% savings and created a clear and flexible programme for cloud transition, by working with CCS through the Crown Hosting Services framework.

To find out more about how we can help you with your digital transformation agenda, read more and get in touch.

    • Visit our framework pages and the Digital Marketplace, a collaboration between CCS and the Government Digital Service, that provides a number of frameworks and services to assist you.
  • Fill in our online form or, if you want to discuss any specific requirement or call us on 0345 410 2222.

Procuring IT systems is never going to be an easy process however with the right advice, help and support, it can be a successful one.

6 benefits of choosing CCS for your print requirements

We know that managing your print requirements to ensure you are achieving value for money, optimising print efficiency, and keeping up with the latest digital solutions can be time consuming, especially if you’re having to run a complex procurement process on top of this.

We often see customers struggling to manage multiple suppliers who they suspect may not be offering best value any more. Customers may not know the best way to approach the market, or what is possible to help improve how they buy their print requirements, and end up stuck in the routine of buying the same way they have always done.

Whether you are a housing association with small print requirements, a local authority with large scale print requirements or anywhere in between, you could benefit from using our framework for Managed Print and Digital Solutions. From print and paper products, pre-production services to direct mail, stock management and digital solutions, the range of products and services the framework offers is diverse.  

The top 6 benefits of choosing CCS for your print requirements are:

  1. Significant cost savings – customers can expect to make savings of between 5 and 20% based on their print maturity and volumes. We have a proven track record of helping our customers save money – Birmingham City Council saved £1.7 million on its print requirements.
  2. 2 easy access routes – you can place a direct award through lot 1 (single supplier), or run a further competition through lot 2 (6 suppliers). Our print category experts can give you help and advice, and we provide a range of FAQ and guidance documents to make the process simple and save you time.
  3. Pre-assessed suppliers to save you time – we’ve already evaluated the framework suppliers through a rigorous OJEU compliant process, so you don’t have to run a time consuming OJEU yourself. Suppliers have been assessed against relevant Quality Standards. We have ensured they are all certified to key security standards including Cyber Essentials, so you can rest assured that your information is safe with them. We also provide pre-agreed terms and conditions to save you time and give you with sound contractual safeguards.
  4. Consultative pre-engagement – you can invite our lot 2 framework suppliers to meet with you before you reach Invitation to Quote (ITT) stage to advise and guide your procurement process, including sharing best practice, consulting on specifications and scope, and giving you insight into lessons learned in previous exercises. This will ensure that the suppliers fully understand your needs and the bids you receive are fully tailored to you.
  5. Expert advice and support to increase your print efficiency – framework suppliers are experts in their field. They have experience of a wide range of  specialisms to ensure your technical and commercial requirements are met and they can offer you expert advice and support to help improve your print process efficiency and make savings where possible.
  6. Help with digital solutions – by considering switching some of your print solutions to digital where possible, you can reduce costs by decreasing the use of paper and physical delivery of products.

Find out more about how we can help with your print requirements and get in touch.

All your technology product needs with the click of a mouse

Getting all your immediate technology product needs is now as easy as clicking your mouse thanks to the Purchasing Platform from CCS. It gives you online access to great prices on a range of off-the-shelf IT products. Most importantly, using the Purchasing Platform will help you save you both money and time and offers a compliant route to market.

Buying from the Purchasing Platform can mean an average 8% saving and on some products and as high as 30% compared with Amazon. Prices are updated daily to ensure you are always getting best value.

Using the Purchasing Platform means there is no need to hunt around getting 3 quotes. We’ve done all the hard price comparison work already and on most products you will immediately get at least 3 prices and an industry benchmark price indicating a market target  price for that day.

It is totally free to use with pre-agreed terms and conditions with suppliers and if you have any questions CCS is here to help you. You can buy with confidence as we’ve done all the due diligence checks to ensure all suppliers are assured, audited and financially secure. Use your ePCS card and you may even benefit from end of year rebates.

The platform allows you to search and compare all products through an easy-to-use click and buy catalogue. The platform is so flexible it meets different buying scenarios as used by customer organisations. Once you have found your products, you can either pay by card, issues an online purchase order or, hold a fixed price quote for 30 days (should you need approval or use another purchasing system).

When it comes to payment, using the Purchasing Platform could not be easier. There are many ways to pay including using your ePCS card, debit and credit cards. If you need your products really quickly, a next day delivery option is often available.

Using the Purchasing Platform is just one of the many ways that CCS is here to help you with all your technology requirements.

So to start benefiting from the Purchasing Platform sign-up today at purchasingplatform.crowncommercial.gov.uk and start transforming your procurement in a click.

 

How the Purchasing Platform from CCS can help you save money and time on office supplies

If you are looking for a simplified way to purchase office supplies online which can help reduce your costs, you should definitely try out the Purchasing Platform from CCS. The Purchasing Platform is a great new way to access CCS through a click-and-buy catalogue that just requires a simple registration. You can search our complete range of office supplies, compare prices from a range of suppliers and then place an immediate order. And the best part about it is that any savings you make will allow you to focus on the priorities that matter most to your organisation and support the delivery of frontline services.

Four reasons why using the Purchasing Platform saves you money:

  • It gives you access to great prices on the best selling office supplies.
  • It has competitive prices that are regularly updated to ensure you get constantly low pricing.
  • You can buy with confidence – fully compliant commercial smart direct award route.
  • We do all the hard price comparison work showing prices from a number of suppliers.

Four reasons why using the Purchasing Platform saves you time:

  • It’s an easy way to fulfil your immediate office supply needs through a click and buy catalogue.
  • The catalogue is focused towards your most regular needs with over 700 of the most popular items to choose from.
  • There are many ways to pay including using your ePCS card or credit and debit cards.
  • It’s easy and convenient to sign-up to use the Purchasing Platform and it’s available to the whole public sector.

So to start benefiting from the Purchasing Platform sign-up today at purchasingplatform.crowncommercial.gov.uk and start transforming your procurement in a click.

Can I help you with your non-clinical temporary staff needs?

As a category services manager in the health workforce team, my role is to support customers using the Non Medical Non Clinical (RM971) framework, which provides an NHS Improvement approved solution for all your non-clinical temporary staff needs – from the most junior to the most senior of roles.   

Having recently joined the team from previous roles involving contract management and procurement operations, I am keen to meet with as many customers as possible to ensure I fully understand your needs and challenges. I was therefore thrilled to be able to meet with NHS Heads of Procurement at the East Midlands Agency and Workforce Stakeholder Group Conference and the West Midlands Heads of Procurement Conference recently.

At both events I was able to discuss our collaborative work with the NHS Commercial Procurement Collaborative (CPC) hubs  and our shared ambition to help address the concerns for NHS customers, particularly NHS Improvement compliant spend in line with NHS Agenda for Change pay caps.

Following these events I am now working with several customers to provide further support on accessing the framework and understanding key benefits and commercial savings. I’m also supporting a cluster of NHS trusts who are working collaboratively to engage the market through a further competition under the framework. This will involve facilitating the process from the initial assessment of requirements through to the final contract award.  

I’m keen to attend similar stakeholder events around the country to develop case studies and insights into your experiences, and support other trusts, so if you would be interested in me attending any of your upcoming events or you would like some help with your procurement please get in touch and ask to speak to me, Kevin Giles.

The health workforce team is also working closely with NHS London Procurement Partnership; East of England NHS Collaborative Procurement Hub; North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative; and NHS Commercial Solutions as we start to develop the framework that will replace this one in 2019. If you are interested in sharing your views please get in touch.

You can fill in the online form above, email info@crowncommercial.gov.uk or call 0345 410 2222.

You can also find out more about our full range of health workforce solutions in our new brochure.

 

The housing sector is missing out on key source of local suppliers

Contracts Finder is the government’s single procurement portal for publishing public sector opportunities. The social housing market could be a rich source of local, low value contracts, just the sort of opportunities that our almost 32,000 registered supplier users, 61% of which are SMEs, would be interested in supplying.

Local businesses are currently missing out because over 70% of Residential Social Landlords (RSLs) are not using Contracts Finder to advertise their contracts. To put this in perspective, there are nearly double the number of social housing providers as there are organisations comprising the whole of central government, the NHS and local authorities combined!

In turn, RSLs are missing out on a rich source of small – local suppliers. By not using Contracts Finder there is also the risk of not being compliant with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which require that all advertised public sector opportunities and awarded contracts over £25,000 in the wider public sector are published on Contracts Finder.

Registration is easy, Contracts Finder is free to use and we continue to make improvements to the site. Recently we added a range of improvements for buyers to aid notice publication and review. We have also made improvements to help suppliers to find opportunities that are most relevant to them.

Contracts Finder now enables buyers to post supply chain notices, in addition to public sector opportunities. So if you are housing provider straddling both private and social housing stock, you can apply to use this facility to advertise both public sector and supply chain opportunities. Larger housing providers can also encourage their prime contractors to use this facility to advertise opportunities in their own supply chains.

Energising procurement: Local Government Association launches national energy procurement category strategy

As you may have seen, the Local Government Association (LGA) recently launched its national energy procurement category strategy.

Councils collectively spend over £773 million each year on energy, which is one of the largest controllable overheads in many council buildings. The strategy identifies a number of opportunities for authorities to minimise their costs, generate income and maximise benefits for their local communities through their energy procurement actions.

The document also sets out the important role that public buying organisations like CCS can play in helping you buy energy, reduce your demand and achieve best value. We contributed to the strategy with information about our upcoming deals including:

  • a new online utilities price comparison and switching website for lower consuming
    public sector customers, and our
  • utilities management software, metering and ancillary services framework, designed to help customers unlock savings and efficiencies across their utilities portfolios

Read the full strategy to find out more.

If you would like to find out more about how CCS can help you save time and money across your entire utilities and fuels portfolio, view our brochure and get in touch.

Get involved with the conversation on Twitter #PoweringThePublicSector

5 reasons to buy your office supplies on our Purchasing Platform

Purchasing Platform Office Supplies

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How much of your budget is currently being spent on office supplies? Now public sector organisations have the chance to make savings through our focused office supplies catalogue available on the Purchasing Platform. It includes stationery, office equipment and desk accessories with over 700 of the most popular items to choose from, with further items available on request. The Purchasing Platform is easy to register for and intuitive to use with simple click-and-buy functionality. Plus, there are many ways to pay including using your ePurchasing Card Solutions (ePCS) card, credit and debit cards. We’ve outlined 5 reasons why the reliability and ease of experience of the platform mean you should start purchasing your office supplies online today.

1. Save money

For public sector buyers, a key priority is ensuring budgets stretch as far as possible. Organisations shopping through the Purchasing Platform make significant savings across both small and large scale transactions. Office supplies make up a significant amount of public sector spend, accounting for items such as paper products, filing systems and day to day stationery items.

2. Save time

Time-consuming paperwork is often a feature of public sector procurement. With the Purchasing Platform customers no longer have to face complex processes – instead we have a simple catalogue that is easy to navigate. The Purchasing Platform is convenient and easy to use – as straightforward as making a purchase on Amazon using a credit, debit or ePCS card. This will no doubt help out busy public sector staff, helping them to focus on more effective and productive tasks.

3. Help your budget go further

The Purchasing Platform helps to save you money meaning organisations can spend more on frontline services. It enables you to benefit from the collective buying power of the whole public sector meaning money can be reallocated to areas that need it the most.

4. Eliminate compliance stress

Suppliers to public sector organisations have had to undergo extensive compliance checks and clearance. Suppliers on the Purchasing Platform are fully compliant and offer a commercially smart direct award route. This means organisations can buy with confidence as compliance checks have already been conducted with all suppliers. We’re bypassing traditional procurement paperwork – so you can complete your purchasing journey all in one place. Compliance is baked in from the start, giving peace of mind all round.

5. No need to shop around

We have over 700 of the most popular office supply products for sale on the Purchasing Platform, with catalogues providing the most cost effective combination of supplier and price. Whereas before procurement staff may have to shop around comparing suppliers to find the best offer, the platform shares industry benchmark pricing. Not only does this save significant time, but buyers can rest assured they are receiving a great deal for their overall purchase.

With all factors considered, the Purchasing Platform is overall a positive development that will no doubt make everyone’s lives easier and free up funds that can be channelled towards more impactful activities. The Purchasing Platform is available to all public sector customers including local government, charity and education providers. It’s a key part of the broader vision of the Crown Commercial Service to transform the way people buy goods and services in the public sector. Customers so far include NHS foundation trusts, universities and councils.

To start saving money on your office supplies today sign-up at purchasingplatform.crowncommercial.gov.uk and transform your procurement in a click.

Keep up-to-date on our social channels – Twitter and LinkedIn.

Hot topics at this year’s UK Health Show

Thank you to those of you who took the time to visit us at the UK Health Show this week. I certainly enjoyed meeting so many trusts and having the time to chat about your procurement challenges and how we can help you.

Some common topics of interest at the show were health workforce issues, our Crown Marketplace programme’s purchasing platform for technology products, and our brand new Technology Services 2 framework so I’d like to direct you to some information that you might find helpful:

Nick Caton, Head of Wider Public Sector, shared the stage with Mario Varela, Managing Director, London Procurement Partnership, to discuss how collaborative buying has the potential to achieve significant efficiencies. During the session Nick discussed:

  • Current developments within the CCS operating model and its integration with NHS commercial priorities
  • The evolving relationship of CCS with the NHS procurement hubs in order to reduce duplication in the public sector and deliver value for the NHS
  • How wider NHS stakeholders can work with CCS to support us in our development of strategies and frameworks

If you missed the session, you can view the slides online.

There has never been a more important time for effective collaboration and it is essential that we all work together, and use our resources as efficiently as possible, in order to ensure the delivery of critical frontline health services for citizens.

If you would like to find out more about any of the topics Nick discussed or how we can help you with any specific procurements, please get in touch or call our customer service centre on 0345 410 2222.

Helping housing associations save time and money on procurement

Welcome to the September edition of our monthly housing newsletter, which is dedicated to supporting housing associations across the UK save time and money on their procurement activities. This is now the fourth edition of our newsletter – I hope you’re finding them useful but I would love to get your feedback on how we can make future editions more valuable for you and your organisation. Why not email me at siobhan.o’keeffe@crowncommercial.gov.uk and tell me what you like and dislike about this edition and what you want to hear more about in the future?

With the summer holidays drawing to a close and many of us having returned from annual leave, I thought I would take this opportunity to remind you about my role as Business Delivery Manager here at CCS and explain a little about how I can help you and your organisation. Alongside my colleagues Nick Caton, Head of Wider Public Sector and Shanie Armitage, Customer Delivery Manager, I am here to be your voice in CCS. I want to help ensure that our frameworks and services meet your requirements and that you get the support you need to access our deals and get the best value for your common goods and services.

Over the past few months we’ve been out and about meeting with a large number of housing associations throughout the UK, hearing about your experience of using our frameworks and keeping you up to date with our latest deals. We’ve been discussing requirements as diverse as vehicle conversion to facilities management (for which we’re hosting a stakeholder event on 20 September that we welcome you to attend) and getting your views on how we develop our future category strategies. We’ve also been running live demonstrations of our new online purchasing platform – its click and buy design promises a future of simpler and easier procurement for housing associations.

Looking ahead, I’ll be attending the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) housing conference later in the month, where I hope to meet more of you in person.

Do you have a requirement you’d like to discuss? View our brochure for housing associations or get in touch.

 

Helping charities save time and money on procurement

Welcome to the September edition of our monthly newsletter, which is dedicated to supporting charities across the UK to help them save time and money on their procurement activities. This is now the fourth edition of our newsletter – I hope you’re finding them useful, but I would love to get your feedback on how we can make future editions more valuable for you and your organisation. Why not email me at siobhan.o’keeffe@crowncommercial.gov.uk and tell me what you like and dislike about this edition and what you want to hear more about in the future?

With the summer holidays drawing to a close and many of us having returned from annual leave, I thought I would take this opportunity to remind you about my role as Business Delivery Manager here at CCS, and explain a little about how I can help you and your organisation. Alongside my colleague Nick Caton, Head of Wider Public Sector, I am here to be your voice in CCS. It is a common misconception that charities cannot buy through CCS, but they can. I want to help ensure that our frameworks and services meet your requirements and that you get the support you need to access our deals and get the best value for your common goods and services.

Over the past few months we’ve been out and about meeting with a large number of charities throughout the UK, hearing about your experience of using our frameworks and keeping you up to date with our latest deals. We’ve been discussing requirements as diverse as media buying to facilities management (for which we’re hosting a stakeholder event on 20 September that we welcome you to attend) and getting your views on how we develop our future category strategies. We’ve also been running live demonstrations of our new online purchasing platform – its click and buy design promises a future of simpler and easier procurement for charities.

I also recently attended the Charities Procurement Working Group meeting, during which there was an interesting discussion on social value. Find out more about what we’re doing to place social value at the heart of procurement.

Do you have a requirement you’d like to discuss? View our brochure for charities or get in touch.

5 benefits of ‘switching on’ our street and outside lighting deal

Did you know local authorities, housing associations and other public sector organisations can purchase street and outside lighting quickly and easily through our Traffic Management Technology 2 framework?

There are a number of benefits of making improvements to your current street and outdoor lighting installations, including improved energy efficiency and the introduction of new technology to help create ‘smart cities’.

We’ve picked out the top 5 reasons to make the investment today:

  1. energy efficiency – there are approximately 7.4 million streetlights in the UK, and less than 10% of these are low energy LEDs. Switching to LED products helps to reduce your carbon footprint and meet local and national energy efficiency targets
  2. safety – improved lighting can help keep your residents safe
  3. creating smart cities – a recent article from LocalGov discussed using street lighting infrastructure to gather data to help you deliver effective solutions aligned to your local smart cities strategy
  4. great savings – improving your lighting can help you save money by reducing your electricity costs
  5. easy ordering – our online portal (the eMarketpace) enables you to buy the street and outside lighting products you need quickly and efficiently, saving you valuable time and ensuring your procurement is fully compliant with public sector procurement regulations

You can buy the following products and services through our  Traffic Management Technology 2 framework, plus much more:

  • street and exterior lighting equipment
  • upgrades to existing lanterns
  • ongoing support and maintenance

Want to find out more?

You can purchase street and outside lighting products as a direct award through our eMarketPlace – if you don’t already have a login for this, please see our guidance on how to register and the link to register.

For further information and to check out the full range of services and buying options available, view the framework page or complete this contact form to get in touch.

Get involved with the conversation on Twitter #PoweringThePublicSector

Non Medical Non Clinical: what’s in a name?

It’s a common misconception that our Non Medical Non Clinical (RM971) framework is just for the NHS. Please don’t be misled by the name – the framework definitely isn’t just for the health sector! It can be used by all public and third sector organisations needing to fill temporary staff, interim and contractor roles.

In fact, over 1,000 public sector bodies used the framework in 16/17 for nearly 12 million hours of work.

More than 400,000 different job titles, including 70,000 IT-specific roles, were sourced.

103 SME suppliers received 51% of spend in 16/17 – that’s over £156 million.

With this in mind, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you 7 great reasons why you should take a closer look the framework:

  1. free to use: no customer fees or charges
  2. compliant: with industry pre-employment checks
  3. simple: a straightforward rate card showing charge rates for both PAYE and limited company temporary workers, including provision for compliance with Agency Worker Regulations
  4. flexible: you are in control of how you use the framework including pay to workers, the suppliers you use and the services you require
  5. support: dedicated framework managers can provide you with tailored advice
  6. choice: extensive range of suppliers from small regional businesses to national organisations, including niche recruitment agencies for specialist roles
  7. fixed fees: including transfer fees, fixed term assignments and hourly margins

What kind of roles can you fill?

In a nutshell, any administrative, professional or operational role from the most junior to the most senior, including board level roles and those of a specialist nature.

For example:

  • admin & clerical staff such as call centre operatives, data processors and PAs
  • corporate services such as finance, HR, marketing and communications and project management
  • ancillary staff such as caretakers, catering, maintenance and security

The only roles that are not covered are clinical or teaching staff – although we do have separate frameworks if you need temporary medical staff.

We are also developing a new framework for supply teachers, which is expected to be in place in April 2018.

Help and support

If I can help you get started with the framework or have any questions at all please get in touch or visit the framework web page.

 

Can CCS help with your IT strategy?

Almost every department in the NHS is contending with legacy IT challenges, as well as the need to embrace new technologies – and all whilst limiting and controlling IT spend. Cloud adoption can fix a lot of the problems, but some critical applications and systems don’t move easily to the cloud, which means it will take time, resources and expertise to transform them.

Hybrid IT environments are the likely outcome, which means both cloud and on-premise solutions will need to be supported as the new model.

This is why, if you are not already familiar with the Crown Hosting Services (RM1069) framework, I’d recommend you take a closer look as it has a firm role to play in your IT and digital strategy.

The framework, which is a joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Ark, supports the first few steps towards transformation. It immediately benefits the NHS as it allows you to choose the infrastructure or service that delivers the best value at this time, and over time, until it is the right time to transition to the cloud.

Operating savings using the framework start at 66% meaning there is a clear return on investment versus existing on-premise or managed solutions – even with transition costs factored in.

The government accredited tier3+ data centre campuses host old legacy and new high performance computing. You can start big or small and with no minimum term commitment and no exit penalties you can transition when you are absolutely ready. What’s more, if digital transformation delays occur savings will continue to be generated.

We understand the complexity of digital transformation and are confident that by using the framework as your foundation you’ll identify considerable cost benefits. You will also reduce your operational risk by hosting your equipment in a much improved environment until the transition to the cloud is realised.

What’s more, the framework doesn’t impose itself on any managed service arrangements you may have – in fact it loosens the ties in your favour – and you can repurpose your real estate for patient services by freeing up on-premise datacentres.

To understand more about how the framework can help you, and how we are helping organisations like NHS Digital and Genomics, as well as NHS trusts and the wider public sector, please get in touch.

You can also download a brochure.

5 ways universities and colleges can save on office products and services

With summer coming to an end and students heading back to university or college soon, it’s an ideal time to begin thinking about the resources you’ll need for the year ahead.

A key element of this is likely to be your office related products and services. We want to help you save money on buying these, so you can spend more on vital teaching resources.

Here are our top 5 ways to save:

  1. Access the latest technology to help you reduce your print costs, the volume of paper you use, and minimise your physical storage costs to free up valuable space – our customers are benefitting from average savings of 15% through our  Managed Print and Records Management framework.
  2. Standardise and rationalise your print requirements from direct mail to large format printing – our expert suppliers can work with you to do this, with customers achieving savings of up to 20%.
  3. Come together with other universities and colleges to combine your requirements for office supplies – a recent eAuction saved 3 customers £335,000 on their requirements, the equivalent of 40%.
  4. Review your current mail processes and make simple changes to reduce your postal service costs – did you know that by simply switching to 2nd Class mail you can save 14%? Read our blog post on short and long term changes you can make.
  5. Save on the secure collection, storage and delivery of examination papers – review your current provider against other suppliers by using our Courier Services framework. Savings of 15% can be expected, depending on requirements.

We offer different ways to buy to best suit your needs, from quick and simple buying options such as direct award and online portals, to further competitions for tailored services and prices. You can also take part in an eAuction with other organisations (available on most frameworks) to achieve additional savings using our bulk buying power.

Find out more about our range of office related products and services, all of which complement each other to help you to address your every business need.

Want to discuss your requirements?

Get in touch by completing this form and if you are interested in joining an eAuction, please tick ‘find out more about aggregation opportunities’.

5 reasons to choose CCS for your utilities and fuels

We know that getting the best deal on your energy is important to all of our customers and, as the largest provider of utilities and fuels for the UK public sector, we can help you save time and money so you can focus your resources on what matters to your organisation.

Here I’ve listed the top 5 reasons why you should choose CCS for your utilities and fuels requirements.

  1. We genuinely provide great value – claims relating to trade performance have been independently reviewed and consistently show CCS as providing great value for public sector organisations. For example, the recent price increase announcement by British Gas has no impact on the prices you will pay under the new non-half hourly electricity framework. This is because the pricing will be based on the transactions made by our energy trading team, not British Gas.
  2. Not-for-profit – we want to get the best deal for you – as civil servants we all have shared objectives to minimise public sector spend and make savings. This is the reason why our service charges are so low. Third party intermediaries have the objective of making profit, so their service charges can be higher. We can also offer you the ability to flex your own social value options on all of our energy deals.
  3. We have a clear, transparent pricing policy – we pride ourselves on having low charges, with no hidden service costs. Service charges and costs of intermediaries can be hidden or unclear to non-industry experts  This may allow them to inflate their prices without you knowing, so you are unable to complete a true price comparison.
  4. Our dedicated, experienced team will prevent you making costly mistakes – we cover all legal costs associated with the procurement to ensure our energy frameworks serve the best interests of all public and third sector organisations, large and small. Our knowledge saves you time and money.
  5. We are OJEU compliant – this provides you with the assurance you need and drives best value through providing a fully open competition. It is worth bearing in mind that we have seen instances where some companies are incorrectly claiming to be OJEU compliant. Please check with your internal legal or procurement team as the wrong choice could cause you to be challenged for breaking public sector procurement rules.

If you would like to find out more about using CCS for utilities and fuels, please get in touch.

Get involved with the conversation on Twitter #PoweringThePublicSector

How charities can save on their media buying requirements using CCS

Charities spent an estimated £458.8 million on advertising in 2015/16*, making it a huge area of marketing to create awareness of their causes and raise funds.

Achieving value for money when buying advertising space is vital, and our Media Buying (RM1051) framework has helped to deliver exceptional discounts against the market average price for our customers over the last 2 years. Ebiquity, an independent third party media auditor has externally validated this and they rate our framework performance as being in the top 10% for UK media buying.

The framework covers media planning and buying, and is open to all public and third sector organisations including charities. The single supplier on the framework, Carat, combines media buying across sectors to secure best value deals. Media space can be bought regionally, nationally and internationally for all online and offline channels.

Do you have a media buying requirement? For more information about how to access the framework and the services the supplier can provide, visit the Media Buying (RM1051) framework page or get in touch.

The current framework ends in November 2018 and so we are currently developing a new framework and we want this to meet the needs of all potential users across the public sector.

Market engagement is underway and to help us with this, we would love to hear from you if you currently have or may in the future require any media buying and advertising services – please get in touch stating ‘media buying’ in the comments box.

*Figures from the market research firm Nielsen

Getting the right financial advice for your housing association

The government has set a target to build 1 million new homes by 2020 and housing associations are seen as one of the key routes to help deliver those new homes. Many have set ambitious building targets and are currently exploring the commercial routes to fund these builds (everything from mergers to joint ventures, loans and bonds).

One of the major themes to the Housing 2017 conference we attended in Manchester in June was the requirement for independent and trusted advice to help inform decision making. Our Corporate Finance Services (RM3719) framework gives you access to the services you need to help with this. The framework is free to access and was established for the provision of corporate finance, capital markets and associated policy advice across a full range of activities and responsibilities.

The recent Housing 2017 survey, conducted by Savills and Social Housing, highlighted a number of areas that housing associations need assistance in, all of which our Corporate Finance Services framework can help you with:

  • How the sector finances its expansion and how it goes about securing development opportunities
  • Partnerships being entered into by housing associations, not just with local authorities and other registered providers , but also with private developers and to a lesser degree, private investors
  • Where housing associations are considering or planning a merger over the next 5 years
  • How a programme of housing delivery will require changes in financial structure and funding

The framework provides an easy contracting vehicle for public and third sector organisations to access a range of services. The framework is split into 7 lots to help you get the support you need, with a range of suppliers on each:

  • Lot 1: general corporate finance advice
  • Lot 2: advice on and execution of specific corporate transactions (typically referred to as mergers and acquisitions or M&A)
  • Lot 3: advice on and execution of specific equity or equity related capital markets transactions (typically referred to as equity capital markets or ECM)
  • Lot 4: advice on and execution of specific debt capital markets transactions (typically referred to as debt capital markets or DCM)
  • Lot 5: specialist retail offer advice and execution in relation to specific capital markets transactions
  • Lot 6: specialist corporate finance advice in relation to the infrastructure sector
  • Lot 7: specialist corporate finance advice in relation to portfolios of, or discrete, financial assets

A range of templates and user guides to help you get started and get the best out of the framework are available on the framework webpage.

Want to find out more? Get in touch and mention ‘Corporate Finance Services’ in the comments box.

Tell us how we can help you buy the legal services you need

When was the last time you reviewed your legal services contract? Are you confident that you are getting the best value from your existing contract? We want to help you ensure you are accessing the right services, at the right price, and are developing a new procurement solution for our wider public sector customers.

The strategy so far…

Our Legal Services category strategy to replace the current framework is made up of 4 new panel agreements: General Legal Services, Rail Legal Services and Complex and Finance Legal Services, focused on the larger suppliers, for central government customers and a final proposed panel of regional and SME suppliers to meet the needs of our wider public and third sector customers. The first 3 panels for central government are now live and we want your feedback on whether our approach for the final panel will meet your needs.

Our proposal…

We are looking at developing a self-service platform that will provide you with access to a wide spectrum of suppliers across all types of legal services. We have chosen this approach as we feel it will give you more flexibility as it does not limit how many suppliers can register. Suppliers will just need to fulfil basic criterion.

You will then be able to compete the rates for your specific requirement directly on the platform. We are currently investigating technology options for the platform as there are a number of potential options.

How can you help us?

We’re really keen to talk to you if you buy legal services for your organisation to ensure we fully understand the challenges you currently face. If you are willing to share some of your time to talk to us please get in touch.

You can also share your views with us by completing this short survey by 25 August.

Thanks in advance for your time, we really appreciate it!

Regional workforce pilots: your chance to take part

A proposal from the CCS workforce team to collaborate with up to 4 health trusts/clusters on workforce pilot projects was endorsed at the July NHS National Customer Board. The pilots will focus on the design and delivery of a tailored workforce strategy for each trust or cluster including:

  • Deep-dive analysis of current volumes, spend, trends, contracting and pricing structures, routes to resourcing, processes and governance
  • Identification of opportunities to optimise existing agreements; facilitate joined-up solutions across resourcing requirements; trial new ways of working, such as different resourcing models or shared approaches; reframe the supplier landscape to support the NHS agenda of reducing/avoiding agency spend
  • Support to implement the identified opportunities for new ways of working in workforce planning and resourcing.

We will dedicate skilled and experienced resources to the pilots and are looking for the following from the selected trusts/clusters:

  • Sponsorship of the pilot at senior level (e.g. Finance, HR or Workforce Director)
  • Data on current bank and agency volumes, spend and fill rates by staff type
  • Access to a range of key internal stakeholders across finance, procurement, HR and workforce (nursing, medical, bank) to discuss requirements and existing approach
  • Information on current contracts, technology platforms, ways of working, processes, policies and strategies.

We will facilitate meetings with stakeholders, undertake analysis, make recommendations and develop implementation plans. The timeline for the pilots will be:

  • Phase 1: 3 months to undertake analysis, make recommendations and deliver ‘quick wins’
  • Phase 2: 6 months to implement strategic solutions, e.g. process and system changes, new commercial resourcing models

Each region has been asked to prioritise 2 trusts or clusters for further discussions with us and the selection criteria are:

  • Combined bank/agency spend of £20 million a year or more across clinical and non-clinical roles
  • Trusts that did not meet their 16/17 NHS Improvement annual expenditure ceilings or have the most challenging targets for 17/18
  • Ability to provide access to data and key internal stakeholders so that we can undertake initial review and analysis.

If you are interested in finding out more, or would like to put your trust or cluster forward for consideration as one of the pilots, please contact your regional Customer Board Chair or contact Clemmie Smith at CCS directly: clemmie.smith@crowncommercial.gov.uk or 07710 854 546.

You can also get in touch via our online form.

New National Fuels framework

Our new National Fuels framework is live, providing a fully EU compliant route to market for all types of fuel and associated services for the public sector.

This framework is a new and improved version of our Liquid Fuels framework, which saved £1.6 million for our customers last year across 6,000 sites (2016/17).

With savings like that it’s no wonder that 100% of our customers on the previous framework have decided to stick with us and sign up to the new framework.

The new framework offers all the fuels types that were provided through the Liquid Fuels framework and much more:

Liquid fuels

Lot 1 Bulk liquid fuels, provision of bulk liquid fuels for heating oil and road fuels. (This will be subdivided into 14 regional lots)

Additional fuels now available

Lot 2 Liquefied gas, provision of bulk and bottled liquefied gas

Lot 3 Solid fuel, provision of solid fuel including wood

Lot 4 Greases and lubricants

Lot 5 Associated services, provision of ancillary services associated with the supply and use of liquid and solid fuels such as tank services, fuel testing and cleaning, waste removal

Our National Fuels framework delivers a wide range of fuel options suitable for the whole of the public sector, whether you require a regional or national supplier.

If you would like to find out more about National Fuels or sign up to the framework please get in touch and mention “National Fuels” in the comments box. You can also view our brochure.

Get involved with the conversation on Twitter #PoweringThePublicSector

Crown Marketplace – what’s the latest?

As our thoughts turn to summer holidays, I’d like to take this opportunity to give you an update on the progress we are making with the Crown Marketplace (CMp) programme and let you know how it can help you today.

As many of you will know, we are currently in the test phase for the CMp programme, which aims to transform the way in which the public sector procures its common goods and services.

It is being designed to make public sector procurement easier for both buyers and suppliers, as well as offering the best deals as part of an Amazonesque-style service.

We went live with a new purchasing platform earlier this year which currently contains online catalogues for Technology Products 2 and Office Supplies. Collectively these catalogues offer close to 400,000 products for sale, with 800 organisations now registered on the platform.

In June, I gave a presentation to visitors at the Public Sector Show outlining our vision for the CMp – this was a fantastic opportunity for me and the team to meet and engage with a large number of stakeholders, all of whom were excited about the potential of the purchasing platform.

CMP Public Sector Show

I also used this opportunity to showcase 2 of our new videos – see below:

These show the opportunities we see for the CMp programme moving forward and demonstrate how easy it is to use the platform – please share with your colleagues  – they really are a great way to illustrate the potential of the site.

So, what else have we been up to?  

In terms of progress, you will be aware that in May, we launched government purchasing cards, known as e-PCS cards, as a payment method on the purchasing platform.

This has been a tremendous step forward for us, and I know customers value the ease of use this gives them when procuring goods for their organisations.

Also in May, we shared our vision for the platform for cross-government colleagues, as well as speaking at the Trilateral Procurement conference. This gave us the chance to share our CMp plans with colleagues from the USA and Canada, as well as gather valuable feedback.

In June, we hosted our Supplier Open Day for potential partners. Almost 100 people from a range of blue chip firms attended, where a range of speakers including John Manzoni, head of the UK Civil Service, Malcolm Harrison, CEO of Crown Commercial Service (CCS), and myself outlined the importance of CMp to CCS’ future strategy and the tremendous opportunity for a future partner or partners to run the purchasing platform.

So what’s next?

Our third catalogue – Multi-Functional Devices (printer/copiers) – will join the other 2 in late summer, which will stretch our product range even further.

Please, help spread the word – sign up and log on here and see what all the fuss is about.

Top tips to make greater savings on your postal services in the public sector

Postal services is often a forgotten area of spend within organisations, however, simple changes can lead to significant savings. I am passionate about post and relish the opportunity to speak to customers when they ask me how they can make greater savings on their postal goods and services and ensure they’re achieving the best possible value.

I have worked in the postal goods and services sector since 2001, when I joined a large public sector organisation to lead its postal services transformation, where I learned valuable insight into developing a postal strategy that would deliver savings and efficiencies across a multi-disciplinary organisation. I joined CCS in 2006 to head up our postal goods and services team.

Here are the key steps I recommend you take to review your current mail processes, along with my top tips for making savings, from quick wins to longer term recommendations.

1. Establish how you use postal services

Firstly, I would recommend going back to basics and looking at how you use postal services and how that relates to your business requirements. Ask yourself the following questions to build a picture of your end-to-end process:

  1. What are you trying to achieve with your postal activity?
    1. Do you need to use postal services or can you use a lower cost communication method such as e-mail or SMS for your customer and intra office mail?
  2. Where are your despatch points?
    1. How many dispatch points are there?
    2. Are these fixed or is there flexibility to centralise or reduce the number?
  3. How much mail do you send?
  4. What products and services do you use?
  5. Is speed or predictability most important?
  6. How much undelivered mail do you get returned?
  7. Is your postal activity centrally managed?
  8. Are there any statutory or policy requirements you need to consider?
  9. Do you have senior level buy-in to introduce change?

2. Quick wins for savings

There are some simple and quick steps you can take right now to start making savings in the short term. I would suggest you look at the following:

  • Reduce 1st Class mail output – there’s a common misconception that 1st Class mail must arrive the next day. In fact, it is often no faster than 2nd Class and by switching to this you can save 14% on your spend.
  • Improve the presentation of mail items – i.e. reducing the amount of handwritten mail across your organisation and ensuring the way you address mail items is correct can provide an immediate saving of 12.8%
  • Where possible, only use letter size envelopes (DL or C5) to provide a saving of 33.3% against larger sized envelope formats
  • Can your organisation undertake a level of sortation prior to collection? If your answer to this is yes, then you could achieve savings of between  7.8% and 19.69%.
  • Reduce or eliminate use of Special Delivery – Special Delivery is ideal for when you require a guaranteed next day tracked service, but what is your rationale for using this within your organisation?
    • Do you require a proof of delivery? If that is the case, then other products such as Recorded Delivery could meet your needs at a fraction of the cost.
    • If you do need a fully tracked service, do you need to pay the premium rate for this arriving before 10am? If not, guaranteed Next Day Delivery by 1pm or 5pm could work better for your organisation and help you achieve savings of approximately 64%.
  • Reduce or eliminate use of Business Response:
    • Do all customers need a reply envelope? Each Standard Business Response and Standard Freepost licence costs £95.00 per annum. Each returned 2nd Class envelope costs 39p (Standard Business Response and Freepost).
    • If your organisation requires Business Response services can you rationalise the number of licences you have to save on licence fees?
  • Reduce or rationalise use of PO Boxes – do you really need a PO Box address or multiple PO Box addresses? A PO Box licence fee ranges between £265 to £315 per annum.
  • Reduce or eliminate use of franking machines for savings of between 5p and 13p per item of mail sent. If your organisation is spending over £5,000 per annum on postal services, you could qualify for an online business account.
  • Ensure you review your current postal provider against other suppliers to achieve best value

3. Short to medium term savings

Once you’ve achieved some quick wins, it’s time to delve deeper to look at short to medium term actions you can take to improve your postal services in the public sector.

  • Develop a communications strategy, if you don’t already have one – this should focus on whether you are using the right communication channels for your target audience
  • Identify the lowest cost options for internal, customer and stakeholder communications e.g. email, SMS messaging or telephone
  • Switch to web based services, such as intranet or email communications, where legally permissible
  • Cleanse address databases – sending items to the right address first time will result in savings
  • Examine the effectiveness of your bulk mailings – are electronic or other methods of communications more suitable?
  • Review contract management processes – who manages your postal budget? Have you reviewed your usage? You might want to consider getting involved in our category board sessions and speak with other postal users to understand how they have delivered change. Get in touch to register your interest.
  • Use supplier expertise to provide solutions to your challenges
  • Rationalise mail dispatch and delivery points – by centralising dispatch points, you could take advantage of volume related discounts and reduce collection charges.
  • Centralise management and budgetary control of postal services
  • Improve forecasting to take advantage of cheaper products with longer delivery timescales
  • Consider cross departmental procurement – collaboration and aggregation of postal volumes can attract volume related discounts from suppliers. Get in touch to register your interest.
  • Explore the option of using Hybrid Mail Services – this means all your mail is securely printed, enveloped and despatched off-site. This offers a potential savings opportunity through the decrease in in-house resources required, print costs and volume related discounts. It also provides a more sustainable option by potentially reducing the carbon footprint of transporting mail.

How we’re helping customers to save on postal services

Our Postal Goods and Services framework (RM1063) is helping our public sector customers improve and achieve cashable savings on their postal output. Some examples are:

  • Chelsea & Westminster Hospital – by improving the address quality of their mail and switching mail products, the number of Did Not Attend (DNA) to clinics reduced saving the organisation circa £10,000 per day in administrative costs
  • Leeds Teaching Hospital standardised their envelopes and reduced cost from £1.09p to 51p per item
  • Collaboration of mail requirements between London boroughs has helped them achieve savings of 17%

For more information please read our full ‘Steps to Savings’ presentation within the documents section of our Postal Goods and Services framework page or get in touch for guidance from our industry experts.

Dynamic Purchasing Systems: a flexible tool for public sector procurement

As a category lead in the fleet team, part of my role is to constantly review the market and ensure we are offering our customers the latest and most innovative solutions to help them achieve best value. When it came to looking at how we renew the Vehicle Conversions framework earlier this year, I spent a lot of time exploring the benefits of Dynamic Purchasing Systems. This led me to decide that it was the best way to offer our customers a new and improved way to access vehicle conversion suppliers.

What is a Dynamic Purchasing System?

A Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) is a public sector sourcing tool that is similar to a framework, but new suppliers can join at any time. The system is ideal for requirements that can be divided into categories of products, works or services, which can then be filtered to help you find the right suppliers to invite to compete for your opportunity.

The benefits

  • You can decide your own specification and evaluation criteria
  • A quicker, simpler buying process
  • Increased scope of services
  • Helps you buy locally and support SMEs
  • A dynamic supply base boosts effective competition
  • Access to the wider vehicle conversions supply chain, including specialist providers and sub-contractors

How does a DPS work?

The initial set-up stage, which is done by CCS, means all suppliers who meet the selection criteria are added to the system.

Individual contracts can then be awarded by inviting all relevant suppliers to bid for your specific contract.

A DPS provides a wholly electronic way of sourcing, but suppliers do not need any special IT equipment or software, so there isn’t any unnecessary upfront activity or investment for the supplier.

The minimum timescale for return of tenders is 10 days. You can establish standalone contracts, or develop catalogues for future purchases, from your competition. You don’t need to allow a standstill period upon award, although there may be benefits of doing so in some instances.

Next steps

We expect the new system to be available in early September 2017, in the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the system please get in touch.

P4H slides now available

Thank you to those of you at P4H yesterday who took the time to visit our stand. We hope you found your visit useful and you came away with the information you were looking for.

If you missed my session on the power of collaborative buying in the professional procurement skills zone, or weren’t able to come to the event, you can view the slides online.

CCS - P4H slides now availableThe key message I wanted to convey is that there has never been a more important time for effective collaboration. Only when we work together – for example by leveraging our bulk buying power with common suppliers – will we achieve the best commercial outcomes. Across the NHS we have a large and complex transformational change agenda to deliver. It is essential that we all work together, and use our resources as efficiently as possible, in order to prioritise resources on the delivery of critical frontline health services for citizens.

In my session I discussed how collaborative buying has the potential to achieve significant efficiencies in the procurement of common goods and services, which account for approximately £7 billion of NHS expenditure.

Combining resources and procurement capability can help trusts achieve maximum value for the NHS, and at CCS we are committed to working with our health customers to support them in making changes and achieving efficiencies. Our aim is that we should be the ‘go to provider’ for the procurement of common good and services across the entire public sector. We want to make it easier for you to access our deals and achieve great value. We recognise that it is not just about delivering the lowest price; rather, we need to deliver the best possible commercial outcomes and, of increasing importance, wider social value.

If you would like to find out more about the evolving relationship of CCS with the NHS Customer Board for Procurement & Supply and NHS procurement hubs, current developments in the CCS operating model and how it integrates with NHS commercial priorities, and how you can get involved with the developing commercial delivery plans, or if indeed there is anything else at all we can help you with, please get in touch

Come together to make savings on your water

You’ve probably already heard that since April 2017 most public sector organisations in England have been eligible to switch water supplier?

Well, now is your chance to make the most of this opportunity and get the best deal through joining together with other organisations to buy.

Background

Earlier this year we joined forces with YPO, The Energy Consortium, ESPO, NEPO, West Mercia Energy, and the Ministry of Defence to launch the largest public sector water framework in the UK.

Our Water, Wastewater and Ancillary Services (RM3790) framework gives you access to a range of suppliers for your water supply and waste water services (sewerage), plus additional services to help you make water efficiency savings.

Following the successful launch, we would like to invite you to make savings on your water requirements by collaborating with other organisations to purchase, through our national aggregated further competition (NFC67). The competition will be run as an eAuction is set to complete in October.

Why get involved?

Aggregating your demand with that of other organisations provides many advantages including:

  •    savings –  the more customers we can bring together the greater the savings
  •    collaboration – consistent application of best practice and opportunities for learning
  •    simplification of the tender process – leading to reduced procurement costs for buyers and reduced bidding costs for suppliers
  •    reduced project management – and contract management costs

This project will put in place a water contract that offers you increased benefits including:

  •    consolidated billing
  •    lower bills and charges
  •    enhanced customer service, from competing your supply rather than only receiving customer service from your local supplier
  •    rationalising your supplier base to one if you have sites in multiple regions, consequently streamlining your billing and administration

Interested?

To register an interest, please get in touch and mention “water aggregation” in the comments box and our team will be in touch with the documents you will need to sign up.

(This aggregation opportunity is now closed).

 

Housing 2017

It was our first time exhibiting at Housing 2017 last week and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting with so many housing associations. Thank you to all of you who took the time to come along and say hello.

Our dedicated customer team were on hand over the course of the 3-day event to answer your questions and show you ways to help you achieve your procurement goals, including maximising value through saving money and securing social value for your residents and communities. If you requested further information from us we will be in touch shortly, if we haven’t been already.

Housing 2017

Paul Allison, Senior Category Lead, also presented a session on how effective procurement can help housing associations make savings and improve efficiency. If you didn’t get a chance to attend Paul’s session, here are the slides.

We know that for all organisations within the social housing sector, tight control over budgets and resources is a key priority, so if there is anything we can help you with please get in touch.

You can also find out more about some of our key frameworks in our new brochure for housing associations.