Tue 21 Mar 2017 10:21AM

Principles for working together, framework agreement, etc.

HR Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Public Seen by 56

We need to find ways to reduce the friction of working together to make it as much like a single organisation as possible in order to unlock the power of co-operation. Ideally hiring people from other CoTech co-ops would be as easy as working for our own co-ops.


Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Tue 21 Mar 2017 10:23AM

I've started a document about the principles we should follow:

It needs a lot of tweaking, and some examples.


Andrew Croft Tue 21 Mar 2017 10:42AM

Couldnt agree more Harry!


Shaun Fensom Tue 21 Mar 2017 11:21AM

Good document. A couple of comments:

If a worker has had a hard time in one CoTech member coop and approaches another for a job, they might find "this should be discussed by all the members of the relevant CoTech members" oppressive.

"CoTech members should not pitch against each other for work" - this needs to be phrased carefully to avoid falling foul of the 'no collusion' clause in most public sector invitations to tender, and also to deal with (tedious) accusations that CoTech is a cartel.


Daniel Stanley Tue 21 Mar 2017 12:16PM

Yep some tricky areas in there. As Shaun says the 'no competitive pitching' clause would need wording carefully - and needs thinking through the practicalities also, i.e. unless all the members are constantly updating each other on all the opportunities they are going for independently, it may not always be clear when this is happening, as clients dont often tell you who else is pitching in our experience. Might be easier to go for something like 'if a CoTech member becomes aware they may be competing in a pitch against another member, they should explore the opportunities for a joint effort'.

The non-exploitation principle also needs a bit of tweaking I think - its possible for instance that a subcontracting relationship could lead to profits for the contracting and the contracting parties, which shouldnt be a problem? Again I think probably a more flexible definition might be easier to maintain.


Shaun Fensom Tue 21 Mar 2017 1:13PM

@dan10 if we went with @roybrooks suggestion of using CoTech as the contracting body then the problem of the lead contractor in a consortium bid making a profit (or loss...) on the deal falls away: the co-op can be used to apportion profits (or losses...) on the deal fairly.


Daniel Stanley Tue 21 Mar 2017 6:45PM

Agreed - profitability and apportionment is likely to be less of an issue where an agreement of that type was in place before bidding. It would require CoTech to become more of a formal organisation though and add more infrastructure etc. I think theres a balance between this approach which may end up with quite a bit of bureaucracy and a more informal network type arrangement with more informal consortia being being put together for each opportunity, and CoTech at most being a vehicle. Pros and cons to each


Chris Croome (Webarchitects Co-operative) Tue 21 Mar 2017 12:29PM

Thanks @harryrobbins for kicking this off. Would it help if I copied the Google doc to our wiki so more people can edit it and we are able to easily see the history of the document.


Roy Brooks Tue 21 Mar 2017 12:49PM

"CoTech members should not pitch against each other for work" - this needs to be phrased carefully to avoid falling foul of the 'no collusion' clause in most public sector invitations to tender, and also to deal with (tedious) accusations that CoTech is a cartel.

Would this point to CoTech being, for these situations, a corporate entity? (Or if not CoTech itself, some other instance of it that fulfils the requirements)? (No experience of public sector pitching myself)


Shaun Fensom Tue 21 Mar 2017 1:10PM

@roybrooks yes, making CoTech a proper co-op able to bid for work would be an excellent example of using the co-op model to enable SMEs to tender for larger contracts. The disadvantages would be:

a) CoTech is new and initially would not have the accounts history that some public sector procurements require (often 3 years)

b) CoTech would need its own public liability and probably professional indemnity insurance.

Neither would be a reason for not doing it.


Roy Brooks Tue 21 Mar 2017 1:25PM

Gotcha... and of course those limitations don't (necessarily) apply outside the public sector. Tho there are others, not least of which is the low level of awareness of the benefits of working with co-ops in general (and this sector in particular)


Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Thu 23 Mar 2017 5:16PM

Personally I feel that it would be a mistake for CoTech itself to sell work. One of the main purposes (as I perceive it) is to spread risk which is not done well if our umbrella group takes on risk.

I'm also very keen to minimise bureaucracy and it seems that deciding which companies to include or apportion work to on a tender will require some sort of central committee or other life-sucking structure.

Agree about the cartel/anti-competitive practices thing. I've updated the document to say "Co-operation over competition - CoTech members should (where tendering processes allow) investigate the possibility of submitting joint/consortium tenders rather than pitching against each other. "


Jonathan Tue 28 Mar 2017 2:40PM

I think the document puts in writing how members would act 'in good faith' - i.e. co-operatively. A good attempt at staving off potential problems.

From what I understand I think CoTech probably shouldn't go for selling work itself - it's more of an association.

I was a bit unclear about the 2nd section - Non-exploitation - Are the 3 options listed in order of, say, preference? Eg. If 1st cannot be achieved then go to the 2nd etc? (Referring to: "... Where a surplus is generated it should be controlled and spent
- by the workers that generated it
- by mutual agreement of the CoTech members
- collectively through the CoTech CoBudget")


Aaron Hirtenstein Wed 3 May 2017 8:41AM

Slow on the uptake on this, but the doc you've created @harryrobbins is a really great start. I agree, in principle, with everything you've written but would love the chance to delve deeper into it through face-to-face discussion as I find that easier than asynchronously.
You have also, in the past, raised the question of day rates - is this something that would be included here? Pondering this question at the moment as we are trying to team up on a couple of projects but this is a sticking point and could make cooperation between certain coops difficult.