I recently attended our latest training courses on completing PQQs and Bid Writing. One of the messages I picked up was that the public sectors’ evaluation of suppliers is a lot like a risk assessment exercise. Public sector authorities have to be scrupulous when spending tax-payers’ money. They have to balance various priorities, including quality, budget, delivery, timescales, policies on equality, sustainability, supporting SMES and local businesses, and abiding by the relevant regulations, while also avoiding the risk of anything going wrong during the course of the contract.
So, as a supplier going through the tendering process, your task is not only to demonstrate to the purchasing authority that you can provide the requirement (and more if possible), but also that you can mitigate any risks that might be involved.
One of the first things a purchasing authority will want to check is that you are financially stable. For bigger contracts they are likely to request 2-3 years audited accounts, for smaller contracts a bankers statement or management accounts might be enough. The key is they want to see demonstrable evidence that you are financially sound.
The authority also has to ensure that your company, or anyone holding a senior position within it, has not been involved in certain offences such as corruption, fraud, or money laundering. They could also choose to disqualify you based on other convictions, bankruptcy, and non-payment of taxes.
You will need to demonstrate that you operate at the highest professional standards. The purchasing authority will want to see that you have a good quality management system in place, to ensure you are able to maintain a consistently high standard. Accreditations are not essential, however, they are a clear indicator to the authority that you are working to a recognised level.
Health and Safety is also important, particularly in certain industries. You will need to demonstrate how you create a safe working environment for your employees and for members of the public.
Having a track-record with the purchasing body, within the public sector more generally, or at least with contracts of similar scope and value provides reassurance that you can fulfil the requirement. So choose your case studies and references carefully, match them to the project and the purchaser.
Demonstrating you are aware of and can mitigate the risks involved is half the battle of qualifying for public sector contracts.