Frameworks – What Does Good Look Like?

As part of our series looking at frameworks, what does good look like is a really pertinent question to ask. Often the clients we work with highlight lack of work, bid time, costs and the fact that they have bid and been awarded places on frameworks but subsequently not received any work. So, what does good look like?

The truth with many frameworks is that the end result is sometimes not what bidders were expecting. This has been excellently articulated recently by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) who have just undergone a year-long study, surveying their members and have identified the following conclusions:

  • 71% frequently reported less than anticipated workloads
  • 64% indicated a regular lack of workload visibility
  • 56% reported it is common for frameworks to have unnecessary second competitions
  • 54% said frameworks frequently favoured lowest cost over quality

The figures here are concerning and with workload visibility and volumes not appearing, this can potentially reduce trust in frameworks. So, what does good look like?

Visibility and realism of work packages is vital, but trust can be built with sight of potential workstreams. With resources, especially in the construction and infrastructure industries being at such a premium, planning of personnel is vital and so information on capital projects and future bidding opportunities is vital.

Following the review, CECA have made the following recommendations for industry which highlight their view on what a good framework approach looks like:

Frameworks to be based around a clear valued work bank with a commitment to deliver work in the framework

  • Once established, frameworks must be used by customers
  • Frameworks to deliver a specified minimum value of work for all participants with subsequent work distributed on quality of tender performance and delivery
  • The number of companies on a framework should be proportionate and balanced in relation to the framework’s value and the number and type of projects available
  • Customers should refrain from using multiple frameworks for greater flexibility which comes at the expense of increased uncertainty for the supply chain
  • More use should be made of limited requests for tenders from a select number of suppliers, contractors or service providers in order to reduce the time and cost of the selection process
  • Framework operators should only consider the use of mini competitions if there is a clear commercial reason for doing so
  • Frameworks must recognise SME specialisms and expertise
  • PQQs for frameworks should adopt proposals being developed by industry for a single industry standard approach

Further information on the Association and its findings can be found here –

All of these recommendations should be applauded and highlighting the need for pipelines, reduction in rogue spending and fair divisions of work so that it is beneficial being on the frameworks are all very pertinent. The statement about SMEs is key and at times when AM Bid work with SMEs, we find some clients who have had negative experiences. One example being:

“We got appointed to fourteen lots and have had nothing from it in the last 3 years.”

The lotting of frameworks is vital, especially to recognise SME expertise and specialisms and allow for a large framework where both large and small firms can build alliances, partnership and develop long term relationships.

If more buyers follow the advice of the CECA, the changes should see a better experience for bidders, buyers and framework providers.