PQQs (Pre-Qualification Questionnaires) are issued by awarding authorities, as part of a restricted procedure, in order to short-list suitable suppliers before inviting them to tender.  Suppliers are assessed according to pre-set criteria based around financial position, ability to deliver, quality standards, and the company’s policies on health and safety, sustainability and equal opportunities.

Public sector contracts tend to be very competitive.  It is likely that more suppliers will meet the basic criteria than the authority wish to invite to tender, therefore, it is particularly important to achieve the best score possible in order to be amongst the highest ranking, and so pre-qualify. 

It is worth preparing all the paperwork you might need in advance, such as your financial documentation, details of your company’s policies, insurance levels, any accreditations, etc.  This information is then to hand each time you respond to a tender.

It may seem like an obvious point, but you should read through the PQQ and all accompanying information carefully, and ensure that you follow all of the instructions accurately.  If you don’t it could result in you being rejected before you are properly considered.  Often the authority will include information on the weighting applied to each question, highlighting the areas they consider most important.

The PQQ should not be treated as a tick-box exercise, you need to demonstrate added-value in order to stand out from the crowd.  You should research the authority (a good way to do this is via ‘selling to…’ or ‘doing business with…’ pages on the authority’s website), this can help you to identify the authority’s ethos and values.  You should also tailor your case studies and references to the requirement(s) and specifications of that particular contract, highlighting a track record in that type of work.

The PQQ will often be the first impression the authority has of your organisation, so take care over the presentation and layout.  It is also worth keeping a copy of the completed PQQ so that you can refer back to it if the authority requires any clarification.

Many suppliers have complained that each PQQ is different making the process more complex and time consuming.  As a result of this the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) have been working on a standardised PQQ.  While familiarity with the type of questions and the format will help, each PQQ will still need to be tailored for that particular contract, will need you to put forward a good case and will require attention to detail.

5 Responses

  1. I have a small business where i have a very successful team of decorators who are dedicated to giving the customer the best quality of service every time. We would love to train our team further and gain more experience but in our trade proffit is not on our side as other decorators are under cutting our prices and not giving the same level of service which leaves us struggling to make proffit to progess ourselves. Although we are never out of work because of repeat custom and word of mouth it makes it difficult to move on to bigger and better things, instead we keep our heads up and try to keep our prices as close as possible to our competitors to win new contacts and gain a larger client base. I am trying to seek larger opportunities for us but as i am better with my tools than i am with computers etc it seems like we are stuck until we can afford to gain the training we require as advertising, fuel costs, insurance, accountancy fees etc eat all our money up. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. Thank you for your message.

      We appreciate growing your business in the current market can be difficult. However, the public sector have to keep buying, so it is a good market to get into. Also, there are some tenders which evaluate suppliers based on MEAT (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) rather than the lowest price – which might put some weight on your customer service focus.

      You can find out about painting and decorating contracts through a subscription to Tenders Direct – to see tenders for this type of requirement please follow this link – http://www.tendersdirect.co.uk/Search/Categories/Category_Results.aspx?id=P058&cat=15.

      We also offer training and consultancy services, which you can find out more about here – http://www.tendersdirect.co.uk/Training/Courses.aspx. If you need any further information about content or costs please feel free to contact our training team on 0844 561 0675 or training@millstream.eu. As a Scottish business you may be entitled to funding to assist with the cost of course(s), for more information see – http://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/flexible-training.aspx.

      There is also an online government course called Winning the Contract (http://www1.learndirect-business.com/growing-and-developing-your-business/winning-the-contract/#) which might help.

      If we can provide any further assistance please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 270 0249.

      Good luck with your tendering!

  2. My cleaning company generates approx. 25k per annum, but I alweys find my self wanting to enquire over those contracts that are more in value like 100,000k. This is too much? There doesn’t seem to be any contracts out there small enough for me to enquire about i.e., 25k. Should I join forces with another small company like mine? Can you help?


    1. There are some hurdles to cross here as most public sector organisations don’t advertise contracts below £20-25K. There is a drive however to reduce this figure and we should see more opportunities coming through in the future.

      Your turnover is another important factor as most organisations expect to see a turnover of at leat 3 times the contract value. As you say, you can join forces and perhaps offer your services on a sub-contracting basis to the larger cleaning companies.

      You should also target the public sector organisations you want to work with and contact them to get on their approved supplier list – it is a bit of work but worth doing if you want to be kept in the loop for new contracts.

  3. Some very good points here. Another way to increase your chances of scoring high is to properly qualify all opportunities. It’s easy to get excited about the possibility of winning a large contract but you need to sure that you have a realistic chance of beating the competition. So ask yourself some questions like:
    – is really right for you / is it a good fit with your business?
    – do you have everything they want in terms of service / product / geographical coverage or accreditations / qualifications?
    – can you provide really good references for the exact (or very similar) service / product required?
    – are you big enough in relationship to the contract value (typically your turnover needs to be three times the size of the contract)

    If you get too many negative answers, consider concentrating your efforts on another PQQ – one you can score well in.