Introducing the Facilities Management Marketplace

The new Facilities Management (FM) Marketplace will be an opportunity to streamline the process of buying key services whilst propping up new entrants and SMEs, writes John Kenny, head of workplace, commercial specialist (FM and Property) at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS).

In January 2018, CCS, the UK’s largest public procurement organisation, will issue a contract notice for its new Facilities Management (FM) Marketplace.

The FM Marketplace could eventually see up to £12bn of spend from central government departments, charities and wider public sector bodies like NHS trusts, schools, universities, colleges, local authorities and the police and fire services.

CCS’s Buildings pillar team lead the category strategy on behalf of government. They’ve been working closely with potential buyers, suppliers and industry bodies to create a straightforward, transparent route to market which will offer more opportunities for SMEs and increase the commercial benefits that can be achieved by the public sector when buying FM services.

Back in February 2017, we were asked by the government’s Growth and Enterprise Board – chaired by the chief executive of the Civil Service, John Manzoni – how we proposed to deliver on the UK Government’s policies in the FM sector. A decision was taken to fast-forward the strategy.

From the outset, we wanted to understand our customers’ journeys, removing waste from the process of buying FM services, increasing SME participation, and ensuring that the new solution will be flexible enough for use by the whole span of public bodies.

Keep it simple

The new FM Marketplace will be the first CCS agreement to make use of the new Public Sector Contract, developed in partnership with Government Digital Service (GDS) and Government Legal Department (GLD). The Public Sector Contract reduces government contracts by hundreds of pages, cutting out reams of unnecessary or generic terms and conditions and tailoring contracts on a modularised basis.

Terms and conditions are split into specific schedules and modules that can be easily digested. Core terms remain, and there are mandatory schedules that will be common to all or many of the final call-off contracts, but optional schedules will be just that – optional – and the final contract much shorter and clearer.

Framework contracts and call-off contracts will carry the same terms and conditions – an innovation for public contracting – removing the unnecessary legal expense of knitting the two together.

Finally, the terms and conditions themselves are written in Plain English, having undergone a line-by-line review by CCS and our partners at GDS and GLD. SMEs have told us in the past that the unnecessary complexity of the language we use is a barrier to their participation. The new terms and conditions will only be as detailed as they need to be.

The SME factor

Making the process simpler is one way of increasing SME participation. But there is a lot more we can do to ensure as far as possible that small and medium-sized operators can get on board.

The UK has a diverse, regionally-dispersed FM market. Traditionally, it has been harder for SMEs to deliver services for the public sector in competition with larger providers.We are taking action on this by splitting the FM Marketplace into three value-banded tiers, with values of up to around £7m, between £7m-£50m and above £50m. Suppliers will only be able to bid on two of those three tiers and will need to make their preferences known – meaning that the right suppliers are competing for the right work to provide value to the public sector.

We are committed to engaging with suppliers and customers, to take on-board their feedback and tailor the agreement accordingly. Three hundred suppliers took part in our most recent webinar in October, taking the opportunity to have dozens of their questions about the new agreement answered. We will continue to develop and improve the solution in the coming months.

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