12 December 2023

Delivering flexible ICT procurement solutions

Flexible procurement team works successfully with the Improvement Service


Scotland Excel has an established  relationship with the Improvement Service to deliver procurement services, managed through our ICT procurement team. Due to capacity issues and tight timelines, our Flexible Procurement Team was engaged to assess three business critical software contracts that were expiring in seven months’ time for the Improvement Service. They required an analysis of the potential routes to market and an assessment of the potential for using national frameworks appropriate to the service requirements.


We were engaged in January 2023 to review the requirements and determine the best course of action to move forward efficiently. We chose to apply our hosted model for the purposes of quoting and management. This model enables client organisations to hand over specific procurement exercises to us to undertake on their behalf.

Each one of the tenders had software and IT service components to be considered, along with the time and costs associated with not only the approach to the tendering but the cost of change.

Our Flexible Procurement Team always acts as an extension of the member organisation we are working on behalf of. If available, we abide by their standing orders and use their templates, providing familiarity for their internal teams. We always ensure that our engagement with relevant stakeholders is aligned with that of the organisation's standard practices. Where a client doesn’t have defined procurement structure, we utilise our own templates and tailor for their specific needs.

What we did

We provided a total procurement support package, from the initial market research to award stage, for the contract renewal of three of the Improvement Service’s critical IT systems. These systems provide online public portal access and ID checks for residents in all 32 Scottish local authorities.

After initial discussion it was decided that the most appropriate way to procure the new contract would be via three separate tenders: Cloud Infrastructure Hosting Services, Identity Verification Services, and IT Services and Solutions.

We carried out market research to determine the most compatible routes to market as well as preparation of three individual strategy documents. The original contracts were procured via an open tender but, following the market research, it was possible to utilise three existing frameworks and "call-off" from them, preferably via direct award.

The original service specifications were based on development proposals, whereas the renewals were mature IT products that had been in use, and enhanced, over a number of years.  We worked with the Improvement Service IT department to update the specifications and identify innovations required to ‘future-proof’ the new contract. We also carried out negotiations with suppliers to ensure all parties were aware of the updated requirements and contract expectations.

The service renewals were complex and required a high level of attention to detail and contracting knowledge to capture existing contractual information and obligations, ensure any future requirements were identified and included, and ensure a seamless continuation of the existing service provision.

We initiated regular communications, including weekly project meetings, with multiple stakeholders across the Improvement Service.

All three contracts were renewed via direct award 'call offs' from existing frameworks belonging to the Scottish Government and Crown Commercial Service.


Our Flexible Procurement Team managed three complex framework call-offs which included:

  • Facilitating and preparing three separate strategies.
  • Liaising with and negotiating with multiple suppliers.
  • Ensuring all call-off order forms and contracts were issued in accordance with the frameworks’ terms and conditions by the agreed deadline.

As a result, the contracts were renewed for another four years, compliantly, with minimal disruption to both the suppliers and the buyer which meant seamless transition and continuation of service offering. In the process, the buyer/client also improved their procurement knowledge.


“We are delighted with the work that you’ve done and the way in which we worked together, and we wouldn’t hesitate to put in place a similar arrangement for any future procurement that we undertake.” Sarah Gadsden, Chief Executive, Improvement Service