Using collaborative frameworks to procure higher education design consultancy services

Peter Masonbrook
Collaborative frameworks are of real benefit to higher education procurement, boosting the local economy and community as well as the institution itself.

Higher education providers are under ever increasing pressure to provide good quality facilities for their students and staff, in a competitive market where the built environment can be a recruitment differentiator. Procurement of these facilities can be complex and brings many challenges. To ease the complexity of procuring multi-disciplinary design teams (and contractors) there are on the market a small number of national frameworks which assist in making the appointment process easier. Faithful+Gould has successfully been appointed onto several national frameworks, of which two are highly recognised nationally. We are sole providers of Lot 1 of the Pagabo Professional Services in Construction & Premises Framework and one of 16 providers on Lot one of the Crown Commercial Services Project Management Full Design Services (RM3741) Framework (CCS PMFDTS).

An excellent example of the application of framework best practice is the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Architecture and Built Environment (SOABE) scheme. Situated on the site of a Grade II-listed former brewery, SOABE is part of the university’s £100m Springfield Campus redevelopment. This will be Europe’s largest construction and built environment campus, accelerating economic and social regeneration, creating jobs and providing the next generation of skilled professionals.

To ease the complexity of procuring multi-disciplinary design teams (and contractors) there are on the market a small number of national frameworks which assist in making the appointment process easier.

Faithful+Gould is leading the multi-disciplinary design team and providing employer’s agent, cost management and principal designer services. We were appointed alongside Atkins at project outset, with a plan and team in place to deliver the project. When it emerged that the existing buildings were less robust than anticipated and could not be used as expected the university decided on a fresh approach. To remain within the programme timescales, we advised the client that a framework option was the best solution. The CCS PMFDTS Framework agreement was duly selected by the client.

The main reason for selecting this framework was that it was vital to appoint a complete design team as swiftly as possible, while still performing robust due diligence to get a team that met the client’s aspirations. Faithful+Gould’s framework delivery model has a pre-approved supply chain of over 400 sub-consultants, of which 83% are Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). The size and capability of our supply chain guarantees we can select the most suitable organisations to fulfil the client’s requirements.

The framework also offers the flexibility to appoint supply chain partners with whom the client has an existing relationship with. In this case, the University of Wolverhampton was keen to use Associated Architects, a firm they knew well and had worked with on several previous projects including the new Performance Hub and the Rosalind Franklin science building and who had also been able to demonstrate that they had a clear vision of how to redevelop the buildings effectively and in consultation with Heritage England and the Local Planning Authority.

The rest of the supply chain was chosen through a procurement journey that incorporated the collaboration of the client, us and the Architect. All four suppliers chosen have offices located within 25 miles of the client’s site. Selecting local suppliers (especially SME's) creates investment in the local economy. For example, the supply chain will need to recruit new employees to fulfil the contract, including school leavers and graduates. These community benefits sit alongside those delivered by SOABE itself, in teaching future generations, recruiting UK and international students, and increasing the built environment skill-base.

Faithful+Gould has a Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Chain (CIPS) approved team that works collaboratively with the approved sub-consultants, so we can ensure they continue to perform to a high standard and at minimal risk to the client and project performance. The supply chain partners themselves benefit from greater visibility of new opportunities which they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access. Other advantages for SME’s include timely payment of their invoices ensuring smooth cashflow. Faithful+Gould can proudly boast that we pay 99 per cent of our suppliers within 30 days, compare this to the 2015 study by the Asset Based Finance Association which found that construction firms were having to wait, on average, over 15 weeks to receive payment.

By using a national public-sector framework, the university has been able to appoint us quickly and efficiently.

The framework approach is working well for the SOABE project. By using a national public-sector framework, the university has been able to appoint us quickly and efficiently and in turn, we have been able to procure a high performing supply chain via an assured and speedy procurement exercise. The project’s local community will also benefit through our use of SME’s and the local employment that it will create.

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