More about Bloom FAQs for buyers FAQs for suppliers

More about Bloom

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Who is Bloom?

Bloom is an innovative private limited company that provides a single supplier solution for consultancy and specialist professional service suppliers to the UK public sector.

We are the delivery partner of the neutral vendor framework for specialist professional services from the North East Procurement Organisation.

As supply chain specialists, Bloom’s philosophy is underpinned by an ‘outcome focused’ approach to procurement. We focus on driving value for money by giving contracting authorities the best choice of large and small suppliers in a quick, compliant and collaborative way.

What is a neutral vendor service?

A neutral vendor helps clients source goods and services. It acts as a single point of contact for clients with no affiliation or interest in any one supplier.

As neutral vendor, Bloom does not deliver consultancy services itself but helps the buyer select the best subcontractor available based on the brief. We then manage and assure delivery to the client’s satisfaction.

What’s different about the Bloom approach?

The neutral vendor approach from Bloom handles all the complexities of supplier management for the client, as we contract back to back with suppliers.  Download our guide to Bloom for more detail.

We provide greater control and transparency of expenditure, whilst also ensuring compliance and helping support strategic ambitions. Such as creating greater social value.

We believe Bloom’s neutral vendor model is unique to the procurement of specialist professional services for the UK public sector. This makes it a safe and viable alternative to traditional procurement methods.

How does the Bloom approach work?

There’s no minimum or maximum value of project and it’s simpler than traditional frameworks. The only procurement decision and contract is with Bloom; via a compliant route.
First, we help to create the best brief possible. Then we present the buyer with a selection of the most relevant suppliers that meet the brief. Download our guide to Bloom for more detail.

Buyers choose from mini competition or direct award; our experience shows best value is achieved through mini competition; generating a 10% average saving on cost against budget. Our diverse supplier community means we can source suppliers with the right capabilities, capacity and experience for each project.

Our supplier accreditation process ensures all standard documentation; such as professional indemnity insurance, collateral warranties, right to work and recent references are in place. We assure delivery by putting in place all necessary contractual agreements and managing the relationship with the chosen supplier. That means risk is mitigated and quality assured.

Which organisations are using Bloom?

You might think that the Bloom approach is only available for North East based organisation. But that’s not true! We work with over 130 Contracting Authorities across the UK meaning Bloom is now recognised as a nationally available solution.

In fact, a significant amount of our clients are based across the UK, outside the North East. We’re based in offices across the UK, with our Head Office in Sunderland.

This Framework Agreement is available for use by all UK Contracting Authorities. This includes, but is not limited to; Government Departments and their Agencies, Non-Departmental Public Bodies, Central Government, NHS Bodies, Local Authorities, Emergency Services, Educational Establishments and Registered Charities; who have a need to purchase specialist professional services.

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium are also specifically named in the framework agreement.

The North East Procurement Organisation will be happy to help you access this framework, if you’re based outside the North East.

What’s the relationship between NEPO and Bloom?

Bloom is a delivery partner, awarded by the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO). We source, appoint and manage specialist professional services for its Member Authorities and Associate Members.

Bloom is a private limited company and has no shareholding or other commercial arrangement with NEPO. We also deliver frameworks with other buying organisations like Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO).

How did NEPO test the market for all 19 categories?

As part of their OJEU compliant framework tender process, the North East Procurement Organisation requested daily rates for each of the 19 categories, as well as the typical grades and roles from potential suppliers in the UK Consultancy Market.

This not only tested the market for categories ‘in-scope’ as part of this solution, but can also be used by contracting authorities for benchmarking purposes, pre/post appointments. This information is available on request from NEPO, please contact adam.smith@nepo.org.

How does NEPO ensure the framework is delivered in the best interests of its Members?

The North East Procurement Organisation holds regular performance reviews with Bloom. It’s the opportunity for NEPO and its members to share management information and review the quality of the service provided by Bloom.

Each client of Bloom joins the North East Procurement Organisation as a member or associate member. That gives access to the NEPO team, supplier and Contracting Authority networking days

How cyber secure is Bloom?

Bloom achieved Cyber Essentials certification in May 2017.  Cyber Essentials is a government-backed cyber security certification scheme that defines baseline cyber security.  Having certification means we’ve been checked against five controls that the government believes when implemented, can prevent around 80% of cyber attacks.

 

 

FAQs for buyers

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How long does it take to get a supplier on board?

Bloom provides a ten-day turnaround for a mini-competition and a five-day turnaround for direct appointments, against an agreed SLA. Timescales are based on receipt of a complete project brief. So turnaround times may differ if clients need specification support from Bloom prior to starting the sourcing.

What’s the benefit of working with consultants as opposed to interims?

Consultants are typically registered companies employed to deliver a specific outcome in a defined time period. Interims are usually employed to fill a role, one which could be done by an employee. They work to an agreed job description and are usually paid by the hour.

Working with Bloom to appoint consultants means getting the best value and the best choice of suppliers. This is backed up by supply-chain expertise and delivery assurance.

Just take a look at our simple guide to the consultancy services available on this framework.

Can I hire an interim via Bloom?

Yes. Bloom provides an alternative option for delivering outcomes, for which an interim is typically used.

We can facilitate interim appointments where there’s delivery of specialist professional services. But, agency and temporary recruitment is out of scope of this Framework.

What categories can I buy through the Bloom framework?

There are 19 categories of Specialist Professional Service (SPS) covered by the Bloom framework, including consultancy services.
Just take a look at our category list to see all the consultancy services available on this framework.

Do I pay for use of the Bloom service?

The Bloom solution is typically cost neutral to clients. The cost of the Neutral Vendor service from Bloom is covered in the overall price clients pay to the supplier.

Bloom Ltd typically provides savings of between 5% and 10% against budget.

The supplier community working with Bloom is charged a 5% fee on the successful delivery of a project. For that, Bloom provides an efficient route to market for suppliers of all sizes. With Bloom, large and small consultancy suppliers can access significant public sector contracts without the need for complex tender responses.

Read what our customers say about us.

Can I meet or talk to someone?

Of course. Just get in contact with Bloom on 0191 300 1410 or by email to tellmemore@nepro.org.uk.

To understand the procurement process run by NEPO, you can contact the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) directly.

Speak to Adam Smith (Regional Procurement Officer – Professional Services) at adam.smith@nepo.org or Emma Pallister (Regional Category Specialist – Professional Services) at emma.pallister@nepo.org or by visiting www.nepo.org

How do I build a statement of requirements with Bloom Ltd

That depends on how you want to work with Bloom. Our supply chain experts are on hand to help you at every stage of your project. We run a diagnostic with you to analyse your spending and needs. To get started, you’ll need to sign a call-off agreement
If you’d like to fully adopt Bloom we can attend any meetings required, to help inform your stakeholders. Templates are available to help you. Equally, if you’d like to work on a more ad-hoc approach, we’re available to walk you through each project.

There’s also a library available of all the previous projects completed for other member authorities, happy to share their knowledge to help others get started and make savings.

Just get in touch to understand how we can help to get you started.

What governance does Bloom Ltd provide on its service?

To join the Bloom supplier community, potential suppliers go through a full accreditation process, before working on any project.
Our supplier accreditation process ensures all standard documentation. Making sure professional indemnity insurance, collateral warranty, right to work and recent references are all in place.

Every client benefits from a dedicated service delivery manager. We conduct regular updates through project highlight reports, confirming the quality and standard of the services being delivered. Each project ends with a full client satisfaction review.

What’s the escalation process for any supplier performance issues?

Bloom clients have access to our dedicated service delivery team and a single point of contact to assure successful project delivery. If any challenges or issues are encountered, that is the first place to contact to help the project run smoothly again.

We ask clients to complete a full satisfaction questionnaire after project delivery. We have a robust complaints procedure if there’s anything that needs more immediate or senior attention.
See what our customers say about us.

Why is the Bloom approach a compliant route to market?

Bloom was appointed via an open OJEU process, run by the North East Procurement Organisation.

Importantly, our clients appoint Bloom by signing the NEPO call-off agreement. As Neutral Vendor, Bloom then delivers the work using the best sub-contractor, appointed via a work order. That means that although Bloom generally recommends running a mini-competition, direct appointments may also be done.

Direct appointments are compliant via the Bloom framework. That’s because Bloom, and not the Contracting Authority, is making the appointment.

Bloom offers access to a large supplier community, offering a wide range of expertise. But, there are occasions where a direct appointment may be appropriate or preferable. This can include; an existing or niche supplier offering services integral to a project.
Our experience shows best value is achieved through mini competition. On average, it generates a 10% saving on cost against budget.
There are no specific OJEU related rules covering direct appointments via Bloom. So each contracting authority should ensure that this arrangement meets its own guidelines.

See what our customers say about us.

Why should I work with Bloom when I already have a good relationship with my supplier?

Bloom offers access to a large supplier community offering a wide range of expertise. But, there are occasions where a direct appointment may be appropriate or preferable. This can include; an existing or niche supplier offering services integral to a project.

Bloom Ltd can help you to procure in a private sector manner. Typically, this will involve benchmarking processes and target pricing.

Our experience shows best value is achieved through mini competition. On average, it generates a 10% saving on cost against budget.

How long is the supplier accreditation process?

To join the Bloom supplier community, specialist professional service providers go through a detailed accreditation process. It’s all done through PRO-VIDE, our cloud-based system.  Take a look at our step by step guide getting started with Bloom for suppliers.

Registration on Pro-Vide takes less than one hour with all the required documents to hand. If all documents required are available, the process can take as little as 1-2 weeks, dependent on referee response times. Our supplier team and existing clients acting as referees can help accelerate this process.

To get started on a project, we’ll require a purchase order number for the work before it begins.

FAQs for suppliers

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I’m a supplier – how do I get started?

Suppliers register and then go through an accreditation process to become part of the Bloom supplier community.

Registration is the first stage when you give us initial contact details. Accreditation is the Bloom quality evaluation process that all suppliers go through to access our opportunities with the public sector.

You’ll need to decide which categories to register for that best match your capabilities. See our category list for full details.  Then download the suppliers’ guide to getting started with Bloomour case study template and visit our cloud-based portal PRO-VIDE to begin.

I’m a supplier – why should I work with Bloom?

A growing number of public sector bodies are choosing a Neutral Vendor approach across all procurement categories, including professional services.

To access these opportunities through Bloom, suppliers need to be accredited. This gives you the opportunity to prove your suitability for the projects on offer and ensures that you’re on the radar for future opportunities.

You’ll then be able to promote your accreditation with Bloom. This offers you an efficient route to market, via a national framework for professional services.  Download our guide to Bloom for more detail.

Once accredited, suppliers receive automated alerts, giving them the chance to evaluate the opportunity and whether or not to respond. These are pre-qualified, well-defined and genuine opportunities to win public sector business.

Our service delivery team works between you and the client to ensure the smooth running of the project. You’ll get open and honest feedback on bids. There’s also the chance to network and partner with complimentary suppliers to access wider opportunities.

How long is the supplier accreditation process?

To join the Bloom supplier community, specialist professional service providers go through a detailed accreditation process. It’s all done through Pro-Vide, our cloud-based system.

Registration on Pro-Vide takes less than one hour with all the required documents to hand. Once you’ve submitted your registration, you’ll move into the accreditation stage.  Download our step by step guide for suppliers on getting started with Bloom.

This part of the process can take as little as 10 days, dependent on your referees’ response times. We recommend contacting your referees to ask them to watch out for a reference request. That means they’ll be prepared to respond quickly. Our supplier team are on-hand to make the process as smooth as possible.

To get started on a project, we’ll require a purchase order number for the work before it begins.

What do I need for the Bloom registration process?

To get started on your accreditation, we’ll ask you for information about you and your business. This includes a series of Mandatory Questions (consistent with the Public Contract Regulations, revised in 2015) Take a look at our step by step guide to getting started with Bloom.

You’ll then need your insurance certificates, company registration, VAT numbers and certificate of incorporation if held. You’ll also need any quality assurance certification and your company’s relevant contact details.

Next we’ll need two case studies that demonstrate your capabilities in the selected categories. These will be used by Bloom as part of your accreditation, but also potentially for clients as part of their selection process.  We’ve created a case study template to help you.

Pro-Vide automatically updates after each section, so you can leave and come back to the process at any time. You can update your profile once created to keep it relevant and up to date.

Finally, you’ll see our contractual terms and conditions which you’ll need to accept to work with us.

What are the benefits of working with Bloom?

Bloom offers your business an efficient route to market offering pre-qualified, well defined opportunities for suppliers of all sizes, across the UK. We help suppliers like you by supporting established client relationships and helping to create new ones, opening up access to public sector procurement opportunities as never before.  Download our guide to Bloom for more detail.

As Neutral Vendor, Bloom works with you to provide a valuable resource to ensure project success.

There’s access to established processes and CIPS-qualified staff that guide the client from initial statement of requirements to appointment. Meaning your projects with Bloom have the best possible start.

We are then on-hand with as much or little assistance as required to ensure delivery. That means you get unbiased support to ensure project success, working between you and the client as required.

What are the main changes in your new SSA?

We’ve issued a new Services Supply Agreement (SSA) to reflect recent changes in legislation, best protect the interests of our buyer and supplier community and our recent change of name.

We’re issuing a daily summary of the queries we receive, which you can request by emailing ssa-enquiries@bloom.services.

 

The 5% management fee

Suppliers are not charged for registration, accreditation or participation in bid opportunities. The only charge is a 5% management fee for any services delivered via our NEPRO neutral vendor solution. How much of this fee you choose to include in your proposal costs is your commercial judgement. Bloom Accredited Suppliers have access to the 5% management fee calculator, available on the Suppliers Resources Page.

Start your journey with Bloom

If you’re a buyer or a supplier, talk to us today about how we can work together and keep opening up procurement.

 

Work with us

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what our clients say about us

The pilot in 2014 showed that the NEPRO solution could assist the Council to achieve our aims of supporting local business while freeing up valuable time for us to concentrate on high value strategic projects.

Abi LindsaySenior Procurement & Contracts ManagerCumbria County Council

Working with Bloom to access the NEPRO solution has ensured we realise all the expected benefits from a neutral vendor approach in procuring and managing specialist professional services. They are a true partner and are continually looking to improve the way we work and ultimately the services provided by the suppliers.

Darren KnowdChief Procurement OfficerDurham County Council

Bloom was essential in the recent hiring of a consultant for a governance project within oneSource. Through the NEPRO solution, I was able to hire a consultant within 2 weeks of posting my project requirements. I was provided with proposals from a range of experienced and relevant suppliers and received valued support from Bloom throughout the process.

Jane WestManaging DirectoroneSource

Working with Bloom means we get access to the best choice of small and large suppliers, especially supporting local Cornish Small and Medium Enterprises suppliers. Working with a dynamic and competitive supply chain gives us flexibility, greater supplier choice and access to the latest thinking. Overall that delivers better value for money for the tax payer.

Kieran ToppingService Director – Commercial ServicesCornwall Council

I chose to work with Bloom as I liked the idea of outcome-based projects. It’s so much more efficient, as it’s a compliant process without the need to go through the OJEU process as it’s still competitive. Bloom has many suppliers already available but we can add suppliers whenever we want. Having someone who can help by providing a second opinion; a neutral point of view has been valuable to us.

Ariana BeattyVFM Commercial Contract & Risk Management ManagerUniversity of Sussex

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