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Part of Business Applications Guidance

Business application services procurement guidance

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Current chapter – Business application services procurement guidance


Successful replacement of overlay services lies in careful and accurate definition of the Statement of Requirement (SoR)

Firstly, you should research your existing business application service so you have a good understanding of what has to be replaced.

It will be useful to obtain usage and cost statistics from your existing management information (MI), bills or by approaching your current supplier. It will also be useful to obtain system diagrams and other applicable documentation which may have been created during the original system installation or as part of maintaining and operating the system.

The next step is to analyse whether it is applicable to replace the service on a like-for-like basis or whether it is beneficial to alter the specification to best meet current and future needs. As replacing any system is unlikely to be pain free, this may be a good opportunity to enhance a particular system, either in functionality or in quantities. This is particularly evident in the case of video services, which could move from simple room-based end-points towards unified communication systems (for example, Microsoft Teams). Conversely, the replacement system could also be down-sized to meet current needs.

A detailed SoR document for the replacement new services should then be constructed. This document should also include service-level agreement (SLA) requirements, maintenance coverage requirements and any other requirements that are essential for the business.

Rather than house equipment on customer premises, you should request services which are cloud based and can be used seamlessly over both the HSCN and the internet. We recommend that services should have minimal reliance on the HSCN Peering Exchange. Ideally, services should be network agnostic, so you can avoid being locked into using you chosen HSCN connectivity service provider for these additional services.

Voice and video services need to be fully interoperable with each other. You should choose services that are easy to use, are intuitive and provide a good end user experience.

Main routes to market for overlay replacements

The main routes to market for business application services are, in order of preference:

  1. Network Services 2 (RM3808) - an existing Crown Commercial Services (CCS) framework.
  2. G-Cloud 11 Framework ID: RM1557.11.
  3. Existing agreements within NHSmail ‘Additional Services’ catalogue - (unified communications including video services).
  4. Organisation self-serve procurements - OJEU.

Network Services 2 (RM3808)

Network Services Framework RM3808 provides access to specialist suppliers who can deliver the services under the 13 individual lots.

The majority of services can be found within the following RM3808 Lots

Lot 3 - Traditional telephony services

Voice services enabling local traditional telephony equipment to be connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Includes traditional voice connectivity, voice call packages, SIP trunks, DDI ranges and CPS services. The scope of this lot also includes the on-boarding and management and maintenance of existing legacy equipment estates with support for transitioning to new solutions at end of life.

Suppliers currently offering Lot 3 services within the RM3808 framework

Lot 4 - inbound telephony services

Inbound call management services for established local call centre functions including non-geographical numbers. For example, 03xx, 05xx, 08xx and 09xx numbers.

Suppliers currently offer Lot 4 services within the RM3808 framework

Lot  5 - IP telephony services

End-to-end IP telephony services with the ability to connect to the PSTN. The solutions under this lot are strictly IP based and include voice call packages, Direct Dialling In (DDI) ranges, messaging services, contact-centre functionality, speech recognition software, automated call distributions, intelligent voice response and specialist administrative and reporting tools.

Suppliers currently offer Lot 5 services within the RM3808 framework 

Lot 8 - Video conferencing services

Traditional and IP based conferencing services and the provision of all elements of a complete solution. This lot includes consultancy and training services, software management tools, call recording, analysis tools, peripheral equipment and transcribing and translation services.

Suppliers currently offer Lot 8 services within the RM3808 framework.

Lot 9 - Audio conferencing services

Includes call recording, playback, analysis tools, the ability to reserve and pre-book, coded access references, peripheral equipment, software, management tools, security access products, collaboration tools, transcribing and translation services.

Suppliers currently offer Lot 9 services within the RM3808 framework.

Lot 10 - Unified communications

The provision of integrated communications solutions to provide a consistent user interface across a range of end-user devices. This lot incorporates components from lots 5, 6, 8 and 9.

Suppliers currently offer Lot 10 services within the RM3808 framework.

A full list of lots, available suppliers and their contact details can be found in the 'Documents' section of the RM3808 webpage. This can be used to filter by the relevant lot(s) you require.

RM3808 Call-off procedures

Network Services 2 (RM3808) provides three options for call off procedures:

  1. Direct award
  2. Further competition
  3. Aggregation

Direct award

Direct award is generally used when buying standard catalogue items from the Government Government eMarketplace. Using this eMarketplace, customers can browse Service Offers (SOs) published by Suppliers across the 13 lots.

Direct award is available on all lots of the agreement. Service Offers can be found on the Government eMarketplace. Access to the Government eMarketplace involves pre-registration of individuals within an organisation. Please note, the organisation’s Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number - a nine-digit number unique to your company - is required for this registration process.

Once logged on to the Government eMarketplace site, the catalogue is available under ‘Shopping’, then the ‘Marketplace’ tab. Search for RM3808. All catalogue items are shown, so apply filters (Lot 3 for example) to narrow results down.

Call off contracts can be awarded with the Direct Award Order Form and guidance on Direct Award can be found in the CCS document Buyer guidance to direct award, both documents can be found in the 'Documents' section of the RM3808 webpage.

CCS have advised that it is possible to invite suppliers to add new catalogue items to the Direct Award Catalogue should a requirement exist which is not matched by existing catalogue items (for example, where a product is a good match to the requirement but the standard support service is inadequate).

In order to invite suppliers to add a new catalogue item to the Direct Award Catalogue, fully complete a Request for information (RFI) Template under the Network Services 2 Agreement (RM3808) and email this to all suppliers in the appropriate lot. Complete the template with as much information about your requirement as possible. In the event of your requirement spanning more than 1 lot, this could be managed as a cross lot process. Where using cross lot, remember to invite only those suppliers common to both lots to respond. This might be useful if you are seeking to procure connectivity and overlay services together which can be achieved through RM3808.

The end result could be a new catalogue item which exactly meets a customer’s needs, and which can be procured via direct award.

Direct award scoring templates, either a Direct Award Desktop Evaluation - Price and Non-price or Direct Award Desktop Evaluation - Price Only, should be completed and maintained as part of the procurement process.

Further competition

Further competition can be used where you need suppliers to develop proposals or solutions to meet your statement of requirements and where you therefore need to run a competition under the framework. 

Buyers are able to refine the Public Sector Contract Call-Off terms for a Further Competition, provided this is done in accordance with the Public Contract Regulations, thus giving more flexibility when defining the Statement of Requirements. 

Further Competition is also the only route that enables you, the Buyer, to add Call-Off Special Terms to the Call-Off Contract. Both the above flexing to the core RM3808 terms, should be approached with caution as adding further requirements can limit the likely responses to your competition. 

Completing a Further Competition also gives you the option to run an eAuction or a multi-stage competition to identify the most economically advantageous tender. This option is not available via direct award.

Before you start the Further Competition process, we recommend that you undertake pre-market engagement, ensuring you engage with ALL Suppliers on your chosen Lot (or suppliers common to both/all lots if running a cross-lot procurement). This will give you the opportunity to ask questions to help refine your requirements. All engagement activities must be fair, transparent and open.

For more detail please see the CCS documents Further Competition Order Form and Buyers guide to Further Competition, both documents can be found in the 'Documents' section of the RM3808 webpage.


CCS develops and runs aggregated competitions (including the use of e-Auctions) for Buyers on a regular basis throughout the year. By aggregating demand, standardising specifications and running eAuctions, CCS regularly achieves material savings on a variety of requirements. A case study is available on the NHS saving an average of 74% through a CCS-run HSCN aggregation.

CCS provides a managed Further Competition service for Buyers who have common purchasing needs for products and services. By aggregating demand, CCS runs the procurement process on behalf of Buyers. Benefits and results:

  • Buyers can achieve increased savings based on committed aggregated volumes;
  • Simplification of the process leads to reduced procurement costs for the Buyer and reduced bidding costs for the Supplier;
  • Aggregation reduces fragmented spend;
  • Potential for standardisation to leverage greater savings;
  • Adoption and consistent application of best practices including the use of standard documentation sets; mitigating risks and issues; and
  • Support and guidance to Buyers throughout the process, conducting Further Competitions at no cost to the Buyer.

Aggregation Activities and Timelines:

  • CCS can run both generic (products and/or services suitable for multiple Buyers across multiple sectors) and sector specific (products and/or services suitable for multiple Buyers in a specific sector) aggregated competitions where there is a demand for common products and/or services.
  • Contact CCS via [email protected] to explore opportunities for aggregation under RM3808. To enable prompt consideration please mark your request “NS2 aggregation”.

Full details on all CCS current and future aggregation opportunities along with recent aggregation case studies can be found on the CCS website.

G-Cloud - The government Digital Marketplace

Public sector organisations can use the Digital Marketplace “Cloud hosting, software and support” section to find suppliers of replacement overlay technologies. This is one of three frameworks (agreements between government and suppliers) in the Digital Marketplace.

The G-Cloud buyers' guide describes how to identify and buy cloud services on the Digital Marketplace. We recommend that the on-line guide is studied in detail.

Microsoft Teams (Unified communications including video services)

New or enhanced Voice and Video Conferencing services could be a unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) product, such as Microsoft Teams. Whilst these services are widely available through both the CCS and G-Cloud frameworks they are also available from NHSmail.

Microsoft Teams provides secure collaboration capabilities to connect your users between groups, organisations and locations. The service is accessible via a mobile and desktop client. Teams Meetings can also be joined via web browsers.

Further information can be found under the "About NHSmail" section on the NHSmail website. There are also materials on using Microsoft Teams and the different capabilities.

Last edited: 2 March 2023 11:55 am