GREED (27th March 2014)
Just for the record, Capita had to compete to get onto the RM framework. Other suppliers can be subcontracted by the companies that also won a place on the RM framework.
GREED (27th March 2014)
LA's have duty to get best value for money by competitive and open tendering and securing as many bidders as possible to provide the true competition. By choosing RM713 LA invariable has one MIS supplier - this is a 'single horse race' - and hardly a competition.
We have an e-mail confirmation from Crown Commercial Services as follows (happy to provide a copy to anyone - please PM us): RM1500 is the most appropriateroute to take for local authorities going to tender for school MIS software andmore appropriate than RM713. RM1500 is designed for use by local authoritiestendering for school MIS
 It is incorrect to say thatRM1500 is designed for use by individual schools and academies
 You and/or the Crown Commercial Service Help Desk are available to give advice on this matter
Last edited by Bromcom-PR; 27th March 2014 at 02:49 PM.
Only just caught up with the thread. Couple of disjointed comments to add.
Correct. I'm not too familiar with tendering, at least not at the large multi-body scale like an LA would. To me as an individual / a school, it's easy to go out and ask for a load of quotes and request a set of requirements are met / measured against. From my point of view that is fair.
I'm not convinced by the cloud argument. I see the benefits, but i don't see that it is a necessity. As @GREED said, if it's not fit for all other required purposes then it's not the right feature. What i agree is that if it's been made a requirement, then it should be evaluated properly, and it's true a lot of people bandy the word 'cloud' around and don't know fully what they mean by it. I'd be perfectly happy with a non-cloud solution, that was hosted on-site. If it was web available - that would be great. It doesn't necessarily have to be Cloud or SAAS - but that could be a benefit. Plenty of products that have a web based add-on would suit me fine. The benefits come more when scaling is required, of perhaps it is being hosted and there are multiple tenants, but for me, i want to host it on site for one school and so if it is a little inefficient or a bit more expensive, i don't mind so much.
Generally with this whole thread, i see that it's really looking at the LA side of things, i'm wondering what we hope to achieve here. To me it feels like the wrong place to raise it. It's great to share the info, but what do we think we can actually do about it?
The OFT Report and also Annexe B: has very relevant and helpful information likely causes of issues that raising concerns for OFT and hence recommending investigation by CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) as a priority. Sell off by one large supplier and exit by another two major players (one UK based and other US) within space of 15 months must raise alarm bells!
Suppliers are key stake holders in the market place and have invariable a pivotal role for serving the schools and local authorities. Coming from a supplier whilst it must sound like whinging, on the contrary we want to be constructive and try to address the market problems together. We hope LA forum members can say how suppliers can help to cure some of the market problems and how they see the market issues from their perspective.
Only one other supplier has appeared, and I don't know of any LA with an official account.
Any LA bods are unofficial and here as individuals. As interesting as the info is I don't see what any individual can do. I dare say they are already aware of the system and any shortcomings.
Most I know are looking to leave and either join schools or the 'real' world.
There isn't really a right place to raise it, apart from direct with LA's themselves. I think Bromcom are just trying to draw attention to the fact several LA's are using other frameworks to procure MIS when there is a framework specifically designed to procure MIS (IMLS). I'm surprised the DfE aren't addressing this or at least issuing guidance.To me it feels like the wrong place to raise it. It's great to share the info, but what do we think we can actually do about it?
Since only Capita exist as a supplier on other said framework (no other MIS supplier would apply for it since it's very large in scope and not at all specific to MIS or schools), the only reason for an LA to do this would be to simplify the procurement process and reduce hassle - i.e. continue using SIMS. The downside of that is schools don't get to see other providers. Believe it or not, there are some places where schools have no idea that an actual MIS market exists - they simply think SIMS is provided by the LA and they're not allowed to move away from it.
It's interesting that where LA's are not mandating which supplier their schools should use far fewer use SIMS. If anyone wants stats on that, feel free to PM..
One thought crossed my mind... is it Capita Children's Services (SIMS) that is on that framework or Capita, as in the massive massive outsourcing organisation... and by proxy CCS is then available... now there is an interesting twist.
Regardless, I 100% agree with you Rich (@scholarpack), this really isn't about Capita as they have played within the rules (the rules are possibly this issue!), it is the LAs that, by using this framework as saying to the market: We have no appetite to explore the market nor find out if our schools are getting value for money or have the best product... we just want to stay as we are. Much the same with VEAT (although there are genuine reasons for using that).
I wonder if, in some crazy future, each supplier was on a framework of one, their own framework. LAs do all their due diligence and market testing before going to tender, then based on the product they want, went for the framework that product was on... I know this would be full of problems like proving they have done their due diligence but is an interesting idea!
I was wondering whether of not you'd post @scholarpack. I appreciate you're in a difficult situation, you want to enter the LA market and your hit with the same problems @Bromcom-PR have listed, however you don't want to be seen to be attacking the same people your trying to get onside, so well done\thanks for posting. Sure @Bromcom-PR is pleased that you have.
I'd be interested in that raw list of which LA do\don't dictate what MIS they recommend - be very useful from a research point of view.
If I can be blunt, I suspect the biggest problem is money. Dealing at the school level is childs play - no offence - the school comes to you, says what they want, you have a clear list of objectives you need to meet and bingo, you're in. With a LA is like crossing a battlefield. You need to keep playing until you become a veteran (which costs money and time) and hope you don't get your legs blown off or you need a get a veteran in and I suspect Capita will be paying 2-3 times what you're likely to offer. Even with your veteran, you need to listen to them and it's going to take time to cross the battlefield and unfortunately this is going to vary battlefield, to battlefield.
My advise would be remember who your allies so don't start shooting at them. I won't expand on this, I think it's pretty clear. Pick your battles, simple example, LA tend to fall into one of two categories, outsources and in-house. If your support is geared towards you doing the support, go for the outsourcers and prove that once they sign on the dotted line, the problem goes away. If you want to go for the in-house folk, you have to accept they will be re-using staff so they will be multi-skilled and dealing with other things so you need to prove that you can provide them with the correct training and they will in effect become an extension of your company. Accept that your allies have other battles to fight and although you want to rush in and become a veteran, you need to wait. I was talking to a friend about how it's taken her 2 days to adjust an admissions letter because of the quirks - I might have taken the mick a bit and offered to export the data and produce it using pretty much any other reporting tool as it'll be quicker
My only other piece of advise for people attempting the battlefield would be to look at what the successful people are doing. If they are being snipers and sending their allies rushing forward whilst providing coving firing from the safely of the building at the back. Either join them and sit in the building at the back of the battlefield or as a community say, no, we're not using the those building at the back - ok, some will let the snipers continue on some battlefields, but eventually the buildings will disappear. What I mean by this is, IF pricing is the sniper and IF masking the price is the building at the back of battlefield, you need to stop using the buildings or you need to get in those building and own them. So IF this is what is happening, as a community, you need to push towards G-Cloud, you need to say, hey, we only bill via the G-Cloud because we believe in transparency and we believe that is the future and when 1 of the major players isn't on it, but everyone else is, then the government will remove those buildings at the back.
@GREED, I believe what you are suggesting would be illegal, my understanding is you can't entering the tender process having selected a solution before hand.
vikpaw (31st March 2014)
Woah. .. hold on there soldier.
Aspen was down to last 2 in Hampshire, and was liked a lot until the lead of the bid consortium pulled (from the mouth of an employee who worked for HCC on the procurement, post procurement). Don't come much newer than that.
Also, yes I suspect the exact terms I mention are illegal... perhaps no more so than choosing a framework with only one supplier on it who offers an MIS. No more so than single supplier frameworks that exist for other areas and organisations.... and they are out there.
I was suggesting a possible concept that would push towards what many including yourself have rightly pushed for: greater communication and awareness before the expensive tender process begins and find out the information on the products you need then... just ideas is all... ones to be refined
Liked the battlefield theme then, bet you can't guess what I've been playing lately
If we step away from tender point - I'm just very aware this is something that can go very south, very quickly if we're not careful, particularly if we're saying particular frameworks are selected over others simply to ensure the "correct" result. I hope we agree, regardless of if this practice actually occurs or not, the whole process it is done for the right reasons and outcome is the result of pure belief that it is the correct solution and is, if it does happen, done to save money\time and is not because of a back hands or anything? I just want to be clear that issue is more education of options then something more serious.
I think we agree, its is perhaps too late when it hits the tender level for supplier engagement. Based on my own experience, my son's school was looking at a bolt-on, I suspect after a marketing push by a certain supplier and I suspect they had more success then other suppliers because of who they are and I would say they are not aware of the full scope of their options - so at this point I'd fully support what is being said here - thing is, they asked (because they have a moral and legal responsibility) and they now know the options. It happens on here all the time. So I'd say keep you feeding us information - we do pass it on the information when we can - both good and bad. I think this approach, although more long winded is the best way forward. Forcing schools into sales pitches may work, but mostly it'll just annoy everyone and back fire on the supplier.
Assuming this is more a question of engagement of suppliers with the marketplace (such as LAs), perhaps a new topic with slightly less legal undertones. May I suggest in the context of someone looking for a solution, how they would seek advise or recommendations (bias I know as most will say Edugeek). Also, how they would put a new product forward for recommendation - perhaps after visiting BETT and being inspired. Just please don't turn it into a name and shame exercise - I've already lost enough people from the whole tender "issue".
Pointing out that LAs are doing things wrong or unfairly and then trying to win a contract with them is no way to develop business.
Raising awareness with LAs is good, but i would think any LA staff on EduGeek - whether active or not - will be know the issues, will know the IMLS framework exists and know whether or not they go about things the 'recommended' way.
I just don't see any changes coming about because of this.
Ideally, the results of the investigation would show the wrong frameworks are being used and the result would be that the dfe would enforce this.
I like the idea of a subtle push towards G-Cloud and openness in the market, but we know that flexibility with pricing is what often wins contracts and depending on the size of sale there are other factors involved. Selling in to an outsourcing LA could be totally different to one that is going to push out their own support.
Perhaps after the results of the MIS Challenge - perhaps we could have an LA Challenge, maybe even showing them the results. The results could well form the EduGeek Framework ...? I don't know, haven't seen the Qs, but might be a start. We just need someone independent to run the LA Challenge.
You are all volunteering me for more work guys!
I agree with all your points @matt40k and @vikpaw my only thing is to have a framework that people take seriously it needs backing by the dfe or GPS. Suppliers already question the worth of spending time on the MIS Challenge... which in some respects bewilders me if they do not see the value to them. Getting them to be part of a framework and then having LAs actually see it as worth while when it does have that rubber stamp will be impossible. It needs some legislative backing. But as Matt and I keep saying... baby steps!
GREED we need volunteers / heroes like you in this market if we will make itwork.
Amazingly even Becta Report 2010 then IMLS Framework didn't break the mold!Next test is OFT Market Study 2014. I have following proposal for @GREED.
Whilst MIS Challenge is an interesting concept, suppliers are overloaded with individualschools seeking tenders and some LAs formal RFI (Request For Information - beforetendering). With seasonal peak period for such activities resource will be farstretched at present time. Even more important as OFT found out the biggestproblem of the market is identified as below extracts. We believe we need tocrack the main problem before MIS Challenge can work.
In this thread "naming and shaming" and then legislationwere mentioned. We believe there is nothing better than to listen to theLAs themselves and hear from the horse’s mouth. Hence the proposal below.
Background: OFT Market Study 2014 - Annexe (extracts):
B72 Thereappears to be a low levelof tendering activity by LAs (see paragraphs B120 toB135). From 2005 to 2010,Becta found that only 18 formal competitions for MIS products and services werelaunched (compared to the 152 relevant LAs it identified).The Becta report alsofound about 50 percent of the LAs who purchased support and maintenance fromtheir supplier purchased the original licence over 10 years ago.
B120 As noted at paragraphs B91 andB92, one of the main concerns raised by suppliers in relation to barriers toentry and exit concerned the frequency with which LAs and schools undertookprocurement, the procedures followed and the use of procurement frameworks. In2010, Becta reported on the legal obligations surrounding the purchase of MIS.It noted that there was a lack of understanding from a LA perspective as towhat LAs should be doing with regards to testing the market and expressedconcern about the low level of procurement that is conducted by LAs in relationto MIS products and services. We have noted in paragraph B72 that there havebeen a small number of tenders and this was also mentioned by some suppliers wespoke to. One supplier said there were only two or three tenders in 2013. Wenote that Becta's 2010 report found that' the introduction into UK law of theRemedies Directive in December 2009 makes it much easier for suppliers tochallenge contract awards and makes the implications of successful challengesmore wide ranging'.153 We were told that some suppliers felt it necessary totake or threaten legal action where suppliers felt procurement wasnon-compliant.
B135 Overall, it is clear that LAs and schools are not tendering for MIS asfrequently as procurement rules would suggest they should, and may not becompliant with EU procurement law. It is also clear that the IMLS Framework hasnot achieved its aim, partly due to LAs and schools not using it for variousreasons, but also due to the reluctance of some suppliers.
What is the proposal – LA Challenge:
Someone independent (like @GREED) should carry out a survey and establish whatwill motivate LAs to come out to tender. Is it saving, seachange technology, usability etc.. Such survey will assist the market to understandwhether it is something suppliers needs to do, DfE or any other body. It isextraordinary that after Becta Report 2010 and now OFT Market Survey 2014, LAswill defy the EU/UK Procurement Laws and resist tendering. The market has tolisten to LAs and together move forward for the good of children educationwhere School MIS is identified as critical mission component in managing this mosteffectively.
Bromcom-PR is happy to contribute whatever reasonable for this LA-Survey tohappen and we hope other MIS suppliers will do the same.
Has anyone contacted Michael Gove?
We could get some funding for the project...
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