The rough guide to tendering
We’re back trying to make procurement simple! Here’s a rough guide to the tender process.
Much like people, all tenders are different and of course, the actual process varies depending on the size, value and complexity of the contract. And, each tender will have documents relating to it that will tell you what the exact process is for that tender.
A great way for government departments to scope out what they might need to procure is to hold market engagement events. It allows them to understand the supplier market and develop the specification of the service or product they will be tendering for. Think of it like the window shopping of the procurement world…
Advertising the tender
Tenders can be advertised in a wide range of places; the buying organisation may have their own tendering portal or when using a framework, they will be advertised through that framework. If the value of the tender is above OJEU threshold then the tender will be advertised on the Official Journal of the European Union.
The OJEU threshold is currently set at:
- £118,133 for Central Government
- £363,424 for Defence and Security
- £181,302 for other contracting authorities
- £65,630 for small Lots.
Usually, suppliers will need to just register on that portal (if it’s a framework they will need to bid for a place on that framework) and express an interest in the opportunity.
SQ (what used to be Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ))
A SQ or Standard Selection Qualification is what replaced the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, or ‘PQQ’. It is a questionnaire which uses a standardised approach based on the European Standard Procurement Document or ESPD, that suppliers must fill out when bidding for work or applying for an approved supplier list. A SQ can be used to shortlist suppliers for the Invitation to Tender stage.
This step isn’t always completed and when it isn’t a requirement then all suppliers are able to bid at the Invitation to Tender (ITT) stage.
The SQ is then evaluated and suppliers will be informed if they are able to progress through to the ITT stage
Invitation to Tender (ITT)
If suppliers have successfully passed the SQ stage or in the absence of a SQ the ITT stage is where suppliers are asked to fill in tender documents. Most ITT stages contain some of or all of the following:
- Instructions for how the tender will be run
- The specification of the winning bidder
- Guidance on pricing
- Contract documents – outlining the contractual obligation between the authority and the supplier
- Evaluation criteria – details on how and using what criteria the bids will be evaluated
- Supporting documents – these could security certification certificates, case studies, scenario examples or references
Responses are then evaluated, and suppliers will be notified of the buyer’s decision. This can be done by email or if the tender was advertised through a portal then suppliers will be notified via the portal.
Award of contract
The fun bit, winning the contract! This is when the buying authority will let all successful and unsuccessful suppliers know the outcome of their bid. The suppliers should also get feedback against the scoring criteria (this isn’t always the case…). If needed, then an OJEU award notice will be published.
Hopefully this has helped you wrap your head around the tricky process of tendering. To get some tips on winning government contracts check out our blog ‘Five tips on winning public sector tender opportunities’.