Quarkside

25/11/2010

Flopping Frameworks stymie innovation

Filed under: Innovation,Strategy — lenand @ 7:47 am
Tags: , ,

Many ICT products are bought via framework agreements, saving cost to both customers and suppliers.  The education market has used them for years via Becta and Regional Broadband Consortia, among others.  It seems that Becta’s work on new framework agreements is being transfered to the DfE.  After March, any active agreements will presumably be transferred from DfE to Becta.

The underlying problem is that Framework Agreements are not best fitted to procuring rapidly changing technology in an era of cost saving. They are more suitable for buying standard ‘commodity’ products and services in a stable market.  If suppliers and products don’t change much over years then frameworks are probably OK.  They don’t work well for ICT in education.  A good example is the Learning Platform Services Framework which excluded smaller suppliers and a well respected Open Source product, Moodle.

Philip Virgo recently blogged about other problems with tie-up in framework contracts.

Frameworks are useless for innovative products.  Framework suppliers have often been used as a channel for suppliers without Agreements.  Sell via an approved framework supplier just attracts an extra cost, but, in the end, it still may be the most economical method.  Avoidance of EC procurement regulations alone could justify this approach.   Look how EC rules impacted Bristol when they were trying to follow an open source strategy.

Quarkside questions whether channeling innovative products  through zero added value frameworks should be regarded as rule avoidance or rule evasion? The former may be legal, the latter may not.

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