The rise and rise of frameworks in construction Posted on: December 11th, 2018 Andy Parker, Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure: With the number of providers only increasing, it’s important to take stock and ask, what are the hallmarks of a best-in-class framework? What’s driven their proliferation? And what value do they provide both customers, and the wider community? If frameworks are to continue to thrive and provide the answer to many of the procurement challenges faced in an era of austerity, it is paramount that new ways of thinking continue to inform their design. For the model to remain integral, framework providers must continue to introduce new methodologies and be open to new ways of working to address criticisms and shortcomings which may develop. While it is difficult to imagine today, as recently as 2013 the government was considering legislation to remove the framework model, due to perceived unfairness towards SMEs. In response to this, new iterations of frameworks have evolved with the specific aim of including firms of all sizes. For example, it was recently announced the Crown Commercial Service’s new framework will feature a lot for projects worth up to £3 million, which will play a vital role in allowing SMEs to make inroads into public sector contracts. Similarly, since its inception more than a decade ago, Scape has been a champion of local supply chains around the country, ensuring that projects deliver tangible social value and an economic boost to SME contractors. Another proposed innovation in the standard public sector model, proposed recently by Scape Procure MD Mark Robinson, is the setting of margins to a mandatory level of 5% in order to encourage contractors to focus on quality rather than cost. It’s an interesting view and not without merit. The challenge, however, would be in encouraging continued innovation and how to drive contractors to continue to find new, cost-efficient ways of working, when their profit margins were mandated. Across all frameworks there is an ever-present commitment to improving models so they are able to greater influence the social value offered by construction projects. The Construction Impact Framework, for instance, has a model which incorporates the use of social investment funds to support the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, guaranteeing it is able to champion its public sector partners’ key drivers – such as boosting employment and improving educational offerings. As we move into 2019, it is clear that the framework model will continue to evolve and adapt to the world around it. Key to this will be collaboration and sharing of ideas – but how can this be encouraged for the greater good in an increasingly competitive marketplace? All of these questions and more will be the subject of discussion at the Construction Frameworks Conference this Thursday, 13 December in Sheffield. We will hear from senior figures from some of the country’s leading frameworks, examining what the future holds for framework model, and the ways we can innovate to drive higher standards, increased efficiency and greater social value through all of our collective work. The panellists’ views and learnings from the discussion will be published on Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure and Built Environment Networking’s channels after the event. To register your attendance for the Construction Frameworks Conference click here.