Ian Wilcox, Health Sector Business Development Director, MLL Telecom, discusses the challenges that RM3808 is helping to overcome and what organisations should look at when choosing a new network service and provider
Deploying and harnessing high-quality connectivity remains an overwhelming priority for all public sector organisations. Leveraging digital channels remains a crucial and efficient means to engage with their respective communities to deliver the best possible service. Unfortunately, for many public sector organisations looking to digitally evolve, legacy networks are incapable of sustaining the pace of change and replacing them is proving extremely arduous.
One such challenge is procurement; which procurement process is best for different organisations? Which supplier(s) can be trusted? How do you know what will be best for your organisation? All these questions can put significant pressures on updating existing technology and connectivity services. But luckily, the national government is helping things along with the creation of the RM3808 framework—a Crown Commercial Services (CCS) network services framework intended to diminish the pain typically associated with procurement.
So what does this framework entail? What does it mean for public sector organisations up and down the country? And how can they leverage the framework to ensure they’re making the best choice for those they serve?
There’s no doubt that procuring new connectivity services presents several challenges for public sector organisations. The biggest of all being the supplier—how does an organisation choose the best supplier for the job? This is exactly what the RM3808 framework seeks to solve. The framework “shortlists” a number of carefully chosen suppliers, under different “lots” outlining the service(s) each supplier can provide. With large dominant incumbent vendors often taking the limelight despite the many suppliers available, RM3808 helps to increase market competition by bringing to the table smaller, more agile and flexible suppliers. For public sector organisations, this is good news. More competition means suppliers will be more focused on delivering the right service to each customer and so organisations are likely to receive better service delivery and aftercare. What’s more, organisations can choose to have one supplier deliver one or multiple services; another important part of promoting diversity and competition within the procurement process, and preventing one supplier from dominating the market.
RM3808 also helps to remove some of the issues associated with supplier ‘lock-in’. Traditionally, public sector organisations have been met with lengthy, inflexible supplier contracts that simply do not meet the needs of an evolving organisation. The framework helps to break with tradition by offering flexible contract lengths, of no longer than ten years for certain services, creating more opportunity for organisations to leverage new technologies
Asking the right questions
It’s clear that there are several benefits to the RM3808 framework; it will make it easier and quicker for organisations to select and appoint connectivity suppliers. But there is still some effort required by IT and procurement teams to ensure they choose the best service.
First, organisations must think carefully as to why they are procuring connectivity services: are they in need of a WAN upgrade? Or perhaps they need a complete WAN overhaul? Do they have specific LAN requirements? Or perhaps they’re in need of better telephony and unified communications services? All these questions must be asked early in the procurement process. Second, organisations should not only think about their connectivity needs today, they must also think about those of tomorrow—what connectivity goals and ambitions do they want to meet over the next few years? Are there any plans in place that could see a need for specific connectivity services in the future?
Third, if an organization requires multiple connectivity services, do they want to work with one supplier, or would they rather have several, all with their individual capabilities and specialisms? And how does it go about appointing its connectivity supplier(s)? The RM3808 framework allows public sector organisations to choose from three different options when procuring services; they can either opt to award a supplier directly from the catalogue; they can invite further competition, particularly if they have complex requirements; or finally, they can go through aggregation whereby the CCS bring together multiple organisations with similar requirements and manage the procurement process from start to end.
These are all important considerations for any public sector organisation procuring connectivity services. There’s no doubt that it can be a lengthy and arduous process, but thanks to government frameworks such as RM3808, the headache associated with procurement is made somewhat a little easier. Making a success of it, however, will be dependent on organisations asking themselves the right questions, to ensure they are choosing the right supplier for them and their communities.