Here's why DfE Frameworks are a win:win for schools procuring ICT

Like most of the public sector, the Department of Education recommends the use of framework agreements to better facilitate schools procuring high-value ICT services. Here’s a look at why.

The importance of reliable ICT in schools was made even more prominent at the height of the Covid-19 induced lockdown, as educators and students had to adapt to new technology-enabled remote teaching and learning methods. The DfE and other organisations leapt into action with a huge expansion of access to devices and digital platforms, but with most pupils back in the classroom, there is still a need for schools to invest in better infrastructure and quality IT services, with the potential for a lot of public money to be spent.

Before and since the pandemic, Computeam have been working tirelessly to gain a place on almost all of the DfE's recommended frameworks for schools buying technology. Let’s take a look at why these often-overlooked resources are an absolute must for both schools and suppliers:

First off: Efficiency

As schools are spending taxpayer’s money, there is an emphasis on making sure that purchases are made responsibly and correctly. In practice this means that there is almost always a duty to obtain multiple quotes for a simple requirement, taking up time for both school and suppliers. Where a larger financial outlay is involved the process is much, much longer —perhaps involving the running of months-long competitions that involve  vetting (e.g. checking insurances, qualifications and references) and subsequent negotiation with multiple suppliers. 

Using a framework, however, you’re dramatically reducing timescales especially when it comes to significant investments. Framework suppliers are pre-vetted and have proven skill and experience in their relevant field. By ensuring that only high quality companies are considered, you are assuring that the quotes you receive back are high quality and not wasting valuable time in the process. The frameworks also eliminate the potential risk of a legal challenge for an improperly-run DIY procurement effort.

Who in a school has the time to stay updated on the fast-changing, jargon filled world of IT?!

Next up, Effectiveness 

By using a framework, you will increase the chances of the school's requirements being adequately documented and explained to the prospective suppliers—suppliers who usually have to respond pro-forma to specific questions to make comparison between their quotes much easier. 

This prevents a common issue in technology. Unlike, say, buying furniture, IT can be complex and poorly understood by purchasers. Who in a school has the time to stay updated on the fast-changing, jargon filled world of IT?! This can result in quotes that are materially different in their specification and features being compared on price alone. In turn this can undermine the original purpose of the investment in ICT, and create a “race to the bottom” among suppliers who choose to play the game.

And Finally, lets Talk About Quality

As we mentioned earlier, it’s necessary for framework suppliers to prove that they have both basic levels of quality—including insurance, Cyber Essentials, ISO9001 accreditation and the like—and the required competence and experience in the relevant field.

Here at Computeam, we understand that by responding to a framework bid, we will be able to invest more energy into the design of our ICT products and services—as we know the competition is fair, and that the outcomes will be assessed on quality as well as price. As a result, the individual school will receive a better response from the majority of suppliers.

Computeam is a member of several national frameworks including the Crown Commercial Service RM6103 framework, Everything ICT framework and the CPC Framework for Outsourced ICT —all of which are endorsed by the DfE. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the team here at Computeam, and we can put you in touch with a representative from an impartial framework to discuss your needs and get a balanced view on the best approach for your school.

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Posted on September 30th 2021

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