Tenders Direct Blog

Comment from the experts at Tenders Direct.

Self reporting requirements entering into force from 1st September 2015

Posted by Line Olsen on August 24, 2015

In April I posted a blog about the ban on PQQs and restrictions that have been put in place for the use of supplier questionnaires. This made it clear that when a contracting authority is deviating from the rules and the guidance issued, they would be expected to self report to the Crown Commercial Service.

These self reporting requirements are now coming into force on 1st of September 2015, so as a reminder this blog will highlight what are considered to be deviations and how you can report this.

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Millstream – a streamlined future for our procurement support service.

Posted by Gemma Waring on August 20, 2015

As a subscriber to our Tenders Direct blog you will have noticed us mention some of our other products and services in recent months such mytenders and our Training and Consultancy services. You may be wondering how they fit in in relation to Tenders Direct and what they mean to you.

Now is a good time to explain this as we are moving forward under our new corporate banner of Millstream, bringing clarity to procurement process and equally to our branding. Millstream is the core of all our products and services, up till now it has sat in the background and we have used our separate brands to communicate with our customers, where as now we are taking a more cohesive approach to how we communicate with the outside world. From now on Millstream is the name you will hear when you are looking for procurement expertise.

What does this mean for you? You will still receive the same services you do now it just means that you will be able to view our full range of services which are designed to satisfy your procurement needs and you will see our branding transition to Millstream. In a world where people in procurement are having to write bids to secure contracts themselves and supplier are in turn facing an increasingly competitive marketplace and may need additional training and support we want you to know that we have it all covered for you.

We encourage you to start following Millstream on our new social media channels (all our existing social media channels, such as our Tenders Direct group on Linkedin, will be migrated across) and enjoy all our new content. We have already vastly increased the activity on our Twitter, LinkedIn and Google + sharing content and we believe our followers will find it engaging and informative.

We would love to hear your feedback so let us know what you think of our new image and if you have any questions at all please feel free to ask and we will get back to you.

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The 2015 Regulations on Electronic Documents

Posted by Kim Postlethwaite on August 11, 2015

The new 2015 Regulations have brought in new requirements surrounding the issuing of procurement documents. This blog post will focus on these new requirements and the key points that both contracting authorities and suppliers should be aware of.

What were the rules previously?

Under the previous 2006 Public Contracts Regulations providing access to documents electronically was optional but incentivised with a reduction of the OJEU time limits applicable if documents were made available in this way.

What are the new rules?

Simple Answer: All documents must be provided electronically (on a website) from the start of the procedure.

Regulation 53 of The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 is devoted in its entirety to the “electronic availability of procurement documents”. This new regulation declares that “contracting authorities shall, by means of the internet, offer unrestricted and full direct access free of charge to the procurement documents” from the point of publication or invite. The regulations continue by specifying that the “internet address at which the procurement documents are available” must be included in the text of the notice or ITT.

What documents need to be made available?
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Pet hates of buyers (what not to do if you are a supplier)

Posted by Cindy Cheng on August 3, 2015

Working closely with suppliers as an account manager in Tenders Direct, I continuously learn more about the ups and downs in the journey that suppliers go through in the public procurement environment. However, for this blog topic I look at issues from another perspective – the buyers. Specifically I am going to outline what the pet hates of buyers are when they come to evaluate tenders and some of the problems that buyers face while they manage the supplier after the contract award.

I have collated responses from first-hand communications with buyers in the public sector who we come into contact with daily through our mytenders service and support team.

Supplier responses to the tender

Common pet hates for buyers in this area include the following.

When suppliers: –

  • Don’t follow the set format e.g. submitting in only PDF format / use of inconsistent fonts throughout the document.
  • Don’t read the question and subsequently submitting irrelevant responses.
  • Don’t provide enough detail when asked in the document e.g. writing one line responses / not directly answering the question.
  • Change the order of the documents and submit documents in an illogical sequence – remember buyers will not appreciate hunting for relevant information amongst multiple attachments especially if it’s not been referenced correctly.
  • Take the ‘once size fits all’ approach i.e. not tailoring the response to the authorities’ requirements.
  • Try to bypass the process or get extra information outside the structure of the tender process.
  • Don’t put their points across directly during presentations.

The points listed above are but a few of the many amongst the responses from the buyers but they are the most common complaints. Suppliers should take these points into consideration as this could help with them to improve future performance in bid responses. The buyers we spoke to strongly recommended that suppliers always ask questions – buyers would rather suppliers ask so they can respond with accurate information rather than make their own assumptions at what has been asked. Just make sure you always use the official Q&A log to communicate with the buyer once the tender has been released.

Supplier management after contract award

Winning a contract is always great news, however, what suppliers must not forget is that this is only the first step – the contract must be fulfilled to the best of your abilities and suppliers should take all actions necessary to ensure that they are complying with the terms and conditions they have agreed to. Many buyers have indicated that there is often a trend of suppliers changing their attitude after the contract has been awarded – at this stage suppliers know for sure that they have secured the business and then become complacent by taking a laid back attitude in getting work started. Suppliers must note that approaching the contract with confidence and being overly complacent are two separate attitudes and quite frankly buyers do not appreciate the latter.

Developing and maintaining a relationship with the buyer is just as important as putting all the effort into securing the contract in the first instance, otherwise it may be deemed a waste of time for both parties. Plus, public sector contracts only last for a defined period of time and you want to be in the strongest position possible when the contract goes up for retender.

The list below highlights some of the common problems buyers face after contract award.

When suppliers: –

  • Under deliver due to overpromising in the tender.
  • Don’t follow the invoicing process agreed causing unnecessary transactional issues.
  • Show lack of accountability when problems arise.
  • Deliver the bare minimum and not working in partnership with the buyer and accommodating to any changing needs.
  • Lack of honesty e.g. covering up errors or not reporting back on KPIs effectively.
  • Poor presentation by the supplier when they attend meetings.

Teething problems are inevitable in the early stages of a contract, what buyers and suppliers should ensure is that there is a plan and process in place to help resolve general or operational issues should they occur. If a situation arises where the supplier is at fault, responsibility should be accepted and solutions developed as quickly as possible – buyers would rather suppliers rise to the occasion and solve the issues proactively rather than wasting their time on trying to find the evidence to apportion blame elsewhere.

As a supplier to the public sector how many of these mistakes would you honestly say you are guilty of making? Do you feel you need more support to develop your organisation’s capabilities?

Millstream Associates offers training and consultancy services for buyers and suppliers.

Click here to find new business opportunities on Tenders Direct.

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Deciding what to bid for – less effort, more success!

Posted by Gemma Waring on July 29, 2015

Here at Millstream we speak to public sector suppliers every day both new and old and it is staggering just how many do not have a documented strategy that outlines how they should decide which tenders to bid on. Often is it left to the Bid Manager or another individual to sift through the notices and decide what to bid on. These are the same organisations that devote time and money every year to developing detailed sales and marketing plans but fail to put the same spotlight on tendering. So, why not have a documented approach to tendering to help guide your organisation to success? Read the rest of this entry »

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Remedies for NHS Procurement breaches and the role of Monitor

Posted by Nelson Poon on July 20, 2015

Breaches in procurement can be due to a number of reasons such as deliberate breaches and accidental breaches. It can be said that deliberate breaches are unlikely to occur as it can risk the reputation of the contracting organisation. Accidental breaches may arise where national regimes apply to numerous low value contracts and responsibilities are assigned to separate parts of the organisation. Monitor is the sector regulator for health services in England and aim to make the health sector work better for patients. This is an executive non-departmental public body that are sponsored by the Department of Health. This blog will explore the remedies available for NHS procurement breaches under the Public Contracts Regulation, Judicial Review and on the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) Regulations 2013 (No 2) enforced by Monitor.

Under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 many claims have been successful in obtaining satisfactory remedies through the courts for procurement for supplies and for Part A services. Arguably, there are few instances where there are really effective remedies through the Courts in procurement for community care and primary care services.

Public Contracts Regulation

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Your Rights as a Supplier

Posted by David Law on July 6, 2015

The most common question that we get from Tenders Direct customers is: ‘What rights do we have once we put in a bid?’

The answer to that is dependent on what stage of the process the supplier is at and the rights for both stages are listed below:

For the PQQ:

Questions should only be asked of your company and not your potential solution (It should be about selection of suppliers and not an evaluation of your product).

Buyers have a legal requirement to notify candidates eliminated at the PQQ stage “as soon as reasonably practicable”.

Read the rest of this entry »

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SME access by splitting contracts into lots

Posted by Line Olsen on June 29, 2015

In 2014 the European Union adopted new procurement Directives for Public sector, Utility sector and Concessions contracts.  With the reform of the Directives they hope to achieve better access to public contracts for SMEs. One of the measures set into place to do this is the rule encouraging contracting authorities to split contracts into lots. The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 transposed the 2014 Public Sector Directive in February 2015, and with it the “Split your lots” rule. With this blog I hope to make it a bit more clear what a contracting authority is required to do.

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Posted in General Procurement, Politics of Procurement, Procurement Law | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time-scales under the 2015 Public Contracts Regulations

Posted by Kim Postlethwaite on June 22, 2015

The recent Tenders Direct Blog posts have been explaining and commenting on the new rules applicable under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 that transposed the 2014 EU Directive. One of the most common queries received by the support desks at Millstream have been surrounding what the new minimum time-scales for the various procedures are. This blog post aims to assist in clarifying these time limits. A printable version of the time limits for the most common procedures can also be found on Millstream’s mytenders portal here.

The time limits refer to the number of calendar days prior to the deadline for submission of responses. They start from the date the notice is sent to OJEU for publication. This does cause some concern with both suppliers and buyers as it Read the rest of this entry »

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The Mystery Shopper Service

Posted by Cindy Cheng on June 15, 2015

Bidding can be both pressurised and also rewarding for suppliers to the public sector. There are many concerns for suppliers during this time such as completing all the relevant documents to meet the deadline, getting adequate responses from the buyers on the Q&A or that the process is being run fairly.  Poor procurement practice by the buyers may go unnoticed under these circumstances and many suppliers are reticent to raise a challenge and risk future contract opportunities. So what happens when you realise there are potential issues? The Mystery Shopper Service offers a solution to this problem.

A Brief Overview

The Mystery Shopper Service aims to tackle any concerns suppliers (particularly SMEs) may have regarding poorly conducted procurement processes which they have been part of on behalf of the suppliers. The service welcomes questions at any stage of the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

 
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