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MIS Systems Thread, School MIS and OFT MARKET STUDY: "Supply of ICT to the public sector" in Technical; I take it you haven't had the joy of tendering yet then @ vikpaw . Asking for quotes isn't proper ...
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    I take it you haven't had the joy of tendering yet then @vikpaw. Asking for quotes isn't proper tendering. Proper tendering is expensive. You have a run a project over a number of months, engage with a wide range of your users and the marketplace. You have any idea how much it actually costs to fill a room of office staff, let alone headteachers! And this is just to demo'ing the solution, you've then got other checks that occur like vetting the company to ensure they aren't funded by crime or likely to go under, security assessment to ensure your data isn't going to end up on pastebin like Tesco customer data has. Then you've got the whole validation of the sales pitches - are their costings correct, can they actual migrate within 2 days, is the user interface so user friendly people can just pick it up or are you going to need loads of training. And, at the end of all this all you've got is a list of recommendation - the end users like these solutions and they aren't full of holes. You'll still find people aren't happy with your recommendations and you haven't even agreed to implement\buy anything!! So I can see how both parties aren't happy with the tender process!

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    We have an unfortunate paradox here.

    We are complaining that the time and associated cost with a full procurement. If we made the process shorter, you potentially fall foul of not giving people fair opportunity to bid (not that they are now even when they get a fair crack at the whip!), plus the buying party would also risk not carrying out full due diligence... another thread on here I know!

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    I don't think so, I'm saying it happens already, we just need to formalize the process and make it more transparent to allow the overall process to be more agile. So rather then it being a one-time activity, it's on going. So when engagement happens, this follows a formal process so that it can be audited as actually happening so OFT and suppliers are happy anti-competitive practices are in place. I'm not saying I would replace the tender process, I think we still need it there for when major events occur - such as electronic registration, VLE, parental engagement, Post-16 agenda, "big data". I just thing a more relax process would allow suppliers to improve more quickly without introducing costly red tape exercises - assuming suppliers are willing to accept negative feedback that is! Otherwise we'll just see more complains and more demands for expensive tendering.

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    But how do you ensure the process is fair and all suppliers have opportunity to engage? We all know schools staff they stick with what they know and like, often the only way they see other products is when the LA tells them to or invites them to an event. Unless you legislate, someone will ALWAYS feel hard done by, and then write off to OFT or worse... which then gets backs up and then forces full procurement, which ultimately is more expensive.

    I'm not arguing that there could be informal things put in to minimise the procurement in some ways (so soft market testing is a more continuous process for example, prices are more public and stuck to, like on G-cloud).

    In fact it is pricing that is the crucks of the issues in my experience. Doing deals to undercut the opposition. Which is obviously partly what OFT are looking at. Then, the bigger players have easy facility to basically give the software away. LA is happy, perceivably the public are happy. But competition is left no where. I suffered from this during my Aspen days. Perhaps a more published set of prices that have to be used for procurement until a supplier is chosen, only then can negotiation occur. I believe that was the idea of IMLS too... (mind you, IMLS had many ideas!!)

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    I think if they went down the process I suggested, you'll be surprised how much engagement happens. If we break away the legal barrier, more people would engage - especially if it gets them out of doing a full tender process! I personally have no issue inviting another supplier to present at the end of a meeting which has been heavy dominated by another supplier to talk about how they believe they can improve our systems. At least gets the dominate supplier thinking about how they can improve alot more!

    Pricing. Yer, it's a tough one, no one wants to be the one who goes, hey, you've been underpaying, now we're taking a larger slice of your budget. It's just, well, look at Bromcom public statement - http://www.bromcom.com/press/pdf/071209_Press.pdf - they claim Capita are overcharging schools by £75 million. I'm not say your wrong, or that two counter act each other, I'm sure you'll agree with the core message that public money is being wasted by lack of transparency. But the fact is despite being able to FOI request prices, I've only found two MIS providers listed on the G-Cloud. If suppliers believe pricing was truly an issue I would expect to see more suppliers on the G-Cloud and only operating via the G-Cloud.


    The G-Cloud by the way releases monthly reports of what everyone has purchased via the G-Cloud - Sales Information - G-CloudG-Cloud.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    But how do you ensure the process is fair and all suppliers have opportunity to engage? We all know schools staff they stick with what they know and like, often the only way they see other products is when the LA tells them to or invites them to an event. Unless you legislate, someone will ALWAYS feel hard done by, and then write off to OFT or worse... which then gets backs up and then forces full procurement, which ultimately is more expensive.

    I'm not arguing that there could be informal things put in to minimise the procurement in some ways (so soft market testing is a more continuous process for example, prices are more public and stuck to, like on G-cloud).

    I believe that was the idea of IMLS too... (mind you, IMLS had many ideas!!)
    But how do you ensure the process is fair and all suppliers have opportunity to engage?

    A very good question @GREED. Probably it is easier to explain in a list of do's and don'ts as below:

    Do's:
    • LAs should have regular suppliers days for schools and for LA support teams to see different products, suppliers, technologies and approaches than incumbent
    • LAs should test the market regularly say every 5 years - this is a legal requirement for compliance (as per Becta Report 2010 and OFT Market Study 2014)
    • LAs should be output driven with their technical requirements and not prescriptive - part of good procurement practice
    • LAs should use exiting procurement framework designed by DfE and GPS (now CCS) - namely IMLS RM1500. This will be a 'mini tender' rather than full OJEU tender process.


    Don'ts
    • LAs should not ignore that cloud era is here now and can save substantial cost and bring benefits of cloud deployment from agility to ease of management. This itself is a business case for going to tender.
    • LAs should not use obscure procurement framework eg RM713 where only one MIS supplier exists - (more details are available on real life cases)
    • LAs should not apply VEAT notice to sign up for software maintenance contracts - (more details are available on real life cases)
    • LAs should not take on fake cloud using client-server software as SoSaaS ie "Same old Software as a Service" - (more details are available on real life cases)


    I hope the above helps to answer @GREED's question.

  7. #22

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    Oh yes in total agreement that the whole process is sucking money that should be going to the people and kids on the ground, totally agree. It is a process that I think needs to happen in reality, buy shouldn't need to happen if that makes sense

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    My thoughts on your points:

    Do's:
    LAs should have regular suppliers days for schools and for LA support teams to see different products, suppliers, technologies and approaches than incumbent
    Agreed. Incumbent should not be excluded though, for fairness. They might have new products or abilities that schools may yet not know about. Think if you were incumbent, you would want that opportunity

    LAs should test the market regularly say every 5 years - this is a legal requirement for compliance (as per Becta Report 2010 and OFT Market Study 2014)
    Agree of the first point. Is the BECTA report a LEGAL requirement? or Informed Advice? Honest question but be careful with the L word!

    LAs should be output driven with their technical requirements and not prescriptive - part of good procurement practice
    Totally agree. 100%!

    LAs should use exiting procurement framework designed by DfE and GPS (now CCS) - namely IMLS RM1500. This will be a 'mini tender' rather than full OJEU tender process.
    Maybe, but IMLS really was a waste of time in my opinion, it tested the company more than the product. I wonder what proportion of LAs have used IMLS as opposed to any other procurement operation?


    Don'ts
    LAs should not ignore that cloud era is here now and can save substantial cost and bring benefits of cloud deployment from agility to ease of management. This itself is a business case for going to tender.
    Fundamentally true, they should not ignore it, but it does come down to the product not just because it is cloud. Functionality and usability should not be sacrificed for the sake of it being cloud.

    LAs should not use obscure procurement framework eg RM713 where only one MIS supplier exists - (more details are available on real life cases)
    But you do want them to use IMLS? Not all current suppliers big and small are on there, so equally that is not fair. I agree with you, but one cannot pick and choose what frameworks they should and should not use. This is more a moral issue, which I have said many times before. By using such a framework they are actively and knowingly choosing not to explore the market, and should acknowledge this to the public!

    LAs should not apply VEAT notice to sign up for software maintenance contracts - (more details are available on real life cases)
    In essence the same comment as above, but there may be valid reasons for using VEAT. After all, this is a EU directive, I think they know what they are talking about. But there again should be justification from the LA as to why they have done this.

    LAs should not take on fake cloud using client-server software as SoSaaS ie "Same old Software as a Service" - (more details are available on real life cases)
    Sorry, but this is very subjective, and it returns to my comment above. True cloud is a positive but it does not override completely if the 'fake cloud' product is not as functional or usable. Side by side and matching up on all levels, then yes true cloud should win. This is why I would love to do a baseline technical and functional test on every MIS in the market so there is alignment on functions, then if they do align functionally the cloud vs non-cloud argument has bigger teeth in an argument. Don't get me wrong I conceptually agree, but there is a lot more to it than just saying to LAs "You must only choose a cloud solution", because all the cloud solution might be rubbish!


    This has really made me think that LAs should be made to be more accountable as to justifying their decisions on procurement, or certainly on their procurement route choices. If there is valid reason, then great we can all (try to) be happy, and if not then it would make them think more carefully...
    Last edited by GREED; 26th March 2014 at 01:38 PM.

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    Would anyone care to comment on how/where Academies and Trusts fit into the conversation.

    For instance I have found this (Well, found for me, thanks @penfold_99)

    https://www.gov.uk/government/public...r-your-academy

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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    Would anyone care to comment on how/where Academies and Trusts fit into the conversation.

    For instance I have found this (Well, found for me, thanks @penfold_99)

    https://www.gov.uk/government/public...r-your-academy

    Detailed on Page 5 - more of the same - use IMLS 1500 and/or suppliers on it:

    5.1 ICT provision
    The Department for Education has a number of its own ICT contracts and frameworks in place that have been constructed and tested to the specific needs of Academies and contain:
    • suppliers with knowledge and experience of delivering educational solutions
    • suppliers who have been evaluated via an EU compliant competition process
    • quality assured suppliers that have been subjected to technical / quality evaluation and testing process
    • suppliers who have signed up to a comprehensive set of pre-determined contractual terms and conditions (limiting risk exposure to customers)
    • suppliers that are subject to contract and performance management and reporting
    • access to specialist advice as well as tender templates and model contracts.
    ICT Services
    – is a department framework, that is free to use, which enables the purchase of most categories of ICT. This is being used extensively within the Academies community with over £100m already committed through it and has become the default procurement mechanism for the Free Schools ICT capital programme.
    A specific ‘Lite’ version of this Framework’s terms and conditions is available for single school or Academy use.
    Information Management and Learning Services (IMLS)
    – is a Government Procurement Service (GPS) framework placed on behalf of the Department and specifically covers educational management information systems and learning platforms.

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    That is advice not legislation. No where does it say academies should or have to use IMLS.

    I was hoping some academies might join in and let me know their directives here...

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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    That is advice not legislation. No where does it say academies should or have to use IMLS.

    I was hoping some academies might join in and let me know their directives here...
    I was going to ask this also. It's all very focussed on LA's which is a very different scenario from individual schools/academies/trusts. I suppose really I should know, but then I do my own little procurements and expect finance/governors to keep me right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    My thoughts on your points:

    Do's:
    LAs should test the market regularly say every 5 years - this is a legal requirement for compliance (as per Becta Report 2010 and OFT Market Study 2014)
    Agree of the first point. Is the BECTA report a LEGAL requirement? or Informed Advice? Honest question but be careful with the L word!

    LAs should use exiting procurement framework designed by DfE and GPS (now CCS) - namely IMLS RM1500. This will be a 'mini tender' rather than full OJEU tender process.
    Maybe, but IMLS really was a waste of time in my opinion, it tested the company more than the product. I wonder what proportion of LAs have used IMLS as opposed to any other procurement operation?


    Don'ts
    LAs should not use obscure procurement framework eg RM713 where only one MIS supplier exists - (more details are available on real life cases)
    But you do want them to use IMLS? Not all current suppliers big and small are on there, so equally that is not fair. I agree with you, but one cannot pick and choose what frameworks they should and should not use. This is more a moral issue, which I have said many times before. By using such a framework they are actively and knowingly choosing not to explore the market, and should acknowledge this to the public!

    LAs should not apply VEAT notice to sign up for software maintenance contracts - (more details are available on real life cases)
    In essence the same comment as above, but there may be valid reasons for using VEAT. After all, this is a EU directive, I think they know what they are talking about. But there again should be justification from the LA as to why they have done this.

    LAs should not take on fake cloud using client-server software as SoSaaS ie "Same old Software as a Service" - (more details are available on real life cases)
    Sorry, but this is very subjective, and it returns to my comment above. True cloud is a positive but it does not override completely if the 'fake cloud' product is not as functional or usable. Side by side and matching up on all levels, then yes true cloud should win. This is why I would love to do a baseline technical and functional test on every MIS in the market so there is alignment on functions, then if they do align functionally the cloud vs non-cloud argument has bigger teeth in an argument. Don't get me wrong I conceptually agree, but there is a lot more to it than just saying to LAs "You must only choose a cloud solution", because all the cloud solution might be rubbish!
    Is the BECTA report a LEGAL requirement? or Informed Advice?
    Many misunderstood when Becta Report 2010 pointed out. Yes, Becta Report 2010 itself is not directive. It provides guidance how to stay legally compliant to EU/UK Laws in relation to MIS Procurement by LAs (and schools/academies).

    IMLS ... tested the company more than the product
    IMLS is a Framework and takes out PQQ stage of full OJEU tender process. LAs (or others) can conduct their 'mini tender' where they can be specific about their own requirements and test the offering to their heart content. IMLS can be completed within weeks where full OJEU will take months and costs in excess of £100k!

    RM713
    This is clearly no true competition. Only one MIS supplier will bid! GPS (CCS) are fuming about this and very unhappy that LAs are using it instead of IMLS1500.

    VEAT
    We can confirm that an LA considered this route but back down as soon as legal arguments emerged. It is definitely legally unsafe territory! Anyone wants more details please PM us.

    Fake cloud using client-server software as SoSaaS ie "Same old Software as a Service"
    Yes, agree with assertion that "Side by side and matching up on all levels, then yes true cloud should win." except as follows.


    Suitability for cloud should be viewed as an important characteristics of the MIS offering within Quality Weighting as a Sub Criteria quality along side other key aspects eg in red below. The buyer should allocate sufficiently weighting to justify importance of cloud accordingly.


    Quality Weightingsand Quality Sub Criteria and Weightings
    Quality
    Cost effectiveness
    Technical merit for true cloud
    Technical assistance
    After sales service
    Price
    Aesthetic and functional characteristics
    Running costs
    Environmental characteristics
    Delivery date and delivery period
    Period of completion
    .

  14. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bromcom-PR View Post
    RM713
    This is clearly no true competition. Only one MIS supplier will bid! GPS (CCS) are fuming about this and very unhappy that LAs are using it instead of IMLS1500.

    VEAT
    We can confirm that an LA considered this route but back down as soon as legal arguments emerged. It is definitely legally unsafe territory! Anyone wants more details please PM us.
    They can be as fuming as they like, perhaps they should have been more careful when setting up the framework. I'm sorry, as much as I question the morality of LAs using that tender, it is perfectly acceptable. One cannot dictate what they should and should not use. Rather, and I say this again, LAs should be held to account why they chose such tender. Maybe other suppliers should have bid for that framework too. It is the framework methodology that is at fault.

    With VEAT, you may have found one, I know of several that used VEAT. We have already discussed this in another thread I don't think we need to go down this road again personally. It is good they have reconsidered, but again my feeling is they should be held to account over their choices.

    @Bromcom-PR You other points I do agree with (mostly), and I like the quality weightings you have listed. I might argue however that functional characteristics really should come very high. As I have stated before, the software has to be able to do the things it needs to do, before scoring if it is cloud, the quality, the cost effectiveness. If you have a high quality, cost effective cloud solution... that doesn't actually allow attendance to be taken, then it CANNOT score highly, and I cannot see how one would think otherwise. Other than that I would largely agree with you.

    I would be interested in other parties opinions on such a table/weighting?

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    I found this most interesting:

    "Public sector organisations may not have access to the requisite commercial and technical expertise when procuring ICT, meaning they are unable accurately to define their ICT requirements, evaluate the best placed suppliers to meet these, and assess and challenge supplier performance."

    From the OFT report.

    Comments?

    Edit: Sorry, this is looking for positive comments on how LAs and the likes can be as informed as possible... not damning LAs or their practices currently.
    Last edited by GREED; 27th March 2014 at 10:03 AM.

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