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Technical FAQs

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What’s the difference between NEPO, NEPRO, and Bloom?

NEPO is the lead Contracting Body that awarded the Framework Contract in 2015.

NEPRO is the name of the Solution, wholly owned by NEPO. Bloom Procurement Services Ltd is the name of the organisation currently operating as delivery partner to the NEPRO.

“Bloom Procurement Services Ltd is delivering NEPRO on behalf of NEPO and all participating Contracting Authorities”

How was NEPRO conceived?

With innovation in mind, NEPO conducted thorough soft market testing with key suppliers identified in the specialist professional services category. All engagement exercises focused around the objectives of driving greater value from suppliers, delivering efficiencies from improved turnarounds and better developed specifications. Through this market testing NEPO identified the following key requirements:

  • A quick, compliant route to new markets
  • Risk management
  • Control and visibility of all expenditure on professional services
  • Challenging the traditional way of thinking about professional services
  • Controls to ensure that suppliers deliver
  • Promote growth within the local economies

Having listened to key stakeholders, NEPO went to market in 2012 for a single supplier solution for the procurement of a neutral vendor managed service for specialist professional services (NEPRO).

What Issues does the NEPRO solve?

As the category of professional services became increasingly complex, it was clear from the concerns raised by key stakeholders that a central and nationally accessible solution was needed. Common issues raised to NEPO included:

  • Inability to accurately monitor spending due to a variety of complex pricing mechanisms
  • Wasted spend due to poor performance and/or scope creep
  • Inability to access smaller, more specialist providers due to framework dominance of larger organisations
  • Over inflated timescales due to complicated and often misunderstood requirements
  • Poorly designed ‘input’ driven specifications and/or terms and conditions which often meant intellectual properties went unprotected

In the face of continuing financial and demand pressures, it was clear the need to procure specialist professional services would continue to grow. It was anticipated the concerns highlighted above would therefore only increase and the need for a new solution was ever more important.

How has NEPRO evolved?

Following the successes of the first iteration, NEPO went to market for a second time in 2015 of which Bloom Procurement Services Ltd was awarded as sole delivery partner for NEPRO (II). The current iteration was procured under PCR15 on an Open Procedure and is to run for a 48-month term, expiring 30th November 2019.

To maximise the outcome, NEPO also partnered with organisations such as the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) and Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC). This allowed NEPO to harness greater expertise and buying power as well as enabling the ability to reach additional markets.

NEPO are now working on the renewal for NEPRO (III), if you are interested in participating or simply finding out more on the project then please contact Adam Smith, adam.smith@nepo.org.

How has NEPO defined Specialist Professional Services?

Specialist Professional Services is a recognised strategic category and is commonly understood to be made up of the following four components: –

  • Professional Services
  • Consultancy Services
  • Interim Management (not covered by this solution)
  • Agency & Temporary Recruitment (not covered by this solution)

What can be bought through NEPRO?

The scope of NEPRO only includes Professional Services and Consultancy Services.

Agency and Temporary Recruitment and Interim Management is considered out of scope. If you’re unclear whether a project falls within the scope of NEPRO, please first contact Bloom Procurement Services Ltd. NEPO should be consulted for further guidance if still unclear.

How has NEPRO defined consultants?

Consultants provide specialist services over a limited period, or are commissioned to perform a specific, finite or one-off project. Consultants are expected to provide the specialist skills and expertise which are not available within an organisation. Consultants are not normally commissioned to undertake tasks that could be viewed as “business as usual”. They may also provide an independent assessment of functions, situations and projects.

There are currently three generally recognised models of Consultants available:

(1) Multi-disciplined professional services and/or consultancy organisations that offer a wide range of specialisms at strategic, operational and tactical levels with a global presence in the market place;

(2) Small Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) specialising in a particular market sector or field of expertise; and

(3) Stand-alone of sole trader SPS agencies focussing on specialist and technical consultancy and professional advice around a particular field, function or industry

What categories of Specialist Professional Services are covered?

NEPO developed 19 overarching categories and 240 sub-categories to encompass the full spectrum available for Specialist Professional Services requirements. The full list of in scope categories are available upon request.

Who can access NEPRO?

NEPRO has been made accessible for all Public Sector Contracting Authorities throughout all administrative regions of the UK.

Eligible organisations include but are not limited to Government Departments and their Agencies, Non-Departmental Public Bodies, Central Government, NHS Bodies, Local Authorities, Emergency Services, Coastguard Emergency Services, Educational Establishments, Registered Social Landlords and Registered Charities who have a need to purchase the above services.

A full list of all permissible organisations can be viewed at here.

How much will it cost for me to access NEPRO?

There is no cost for Contracting Authorities to access NEPRO, or any of NEPOs Solutions for that matter! Suppliers pay a 5% management fee on the successful completion of projects only.

Buyers should simply follow the steps listed here to become an Associate Member of NEPO. Once complete the Associate Membership scheme grants you access to the NEPO Solutions. NEPO currently have 350+ Associate Members, please check here to see if your organisation is already signed up.

Suppliers should visit www.bloom.services to start the registration process.

Which contracts apply to NEPRO?

Five individual sets of terms and conditions have been developed to govern the relationships involved under NEPRO:

1) Framework Agreement (NEPO and Bloom Procurement Services Ltd )

2) Call-Off Contract (Contracting Authority and Bloom Procurement Services Ltd)

3) Full Membership or Associate Membership Agreement (NEPO and Contracting Authority)

4) Service Supply Agreement (Bloom Procurement Services Ltd and Accredited Supply Chain)

5) Work Order (Bloom Procurement Services Ltd and Appointed Supplier)

 The Contracts referenced in (1), (2) and (3) will be provided to you by NEPO. Whereas (1) and (3) must remain unchanged, the Call-Off Contract (2) can be amended as appropriate by the Contracting Authority however any amendments made must not materially alter the balance of the original Contract.

The Contracts referenced in (4) and (5) are private-to-private and have been developed by Bloom Procurement Services Ltd to manage the contractual obligations under NEPRO. The SSA (4) needs to be agreed prior to a supplier becoming accredited with Bloom Procurement Services Ltd. The Work Order (5) is based on each delivered project and signed by Bloom Procurement Services Ltd and the Appointed supplier. The Contracting Authority must provide prior approval to Bloom Procurement Services Ltd that the Work Orders cover all criteria and project provisions. For the avoidance of doubt, this does not constitute a tri-party agreement.

NEPO has revised the Framework and Call-Off Contract(s) to accommodate for IR35 legislative reform changes in 2017 and GDPR legislative changes in 2018. Please contact NEPO directly to ensure you are working from the most recent versions. Bloom Services Limited have also updated their contractual documentation to reflect the changes.

What is NEPO's continued role in NEPRO?

NEPO, as leading contracting body, has established regular Contract Management processes to monitor compliance and performance throughout the duration of NEPRO. This includes weekly engagement with the delivery partner, Bloom Procurement Services Ltd, as well as various periodic management information requirements and audit checks.

NEPO and Bloom Procurement Services Ltd also host several annual engagement events throughout the UK in which Contracting Authorities are invited to share experiences and help shape the Contract Management principles.

We are always available to support and provide guidance as and when needed. NEPO also act as a point of escalation in the event of any performance issues or dispute resolution with the delivery partner.

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The Association of North East Councils Limited trading as the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) Company number 05014821. © 2018 NEPO.