Author Archives

Diane Callaghan

Avoiding Risky Business

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.

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Don’t Judge a Tender by its Title

Is it your job to find that golden opportunity hidden amongst hundreds of vaguely related tender notices?  How many tenders do you dismiss on title alone?  Well, you might just be missing some valuable business opportunities.

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How to score with PQQs

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.

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You are only as good as your Last Tender

One of the best ways to improve your tender and PQQ (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire) submissions is to learn from the mistakes and merits of your previous efforts.  You can do this by requesting feedback on your performance during the tender process from the awarding authority.

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Does Size Matter? SMEs in Public Sector Procurement

The public sector is a potentially lucrative source of business, as the UK spends about £222 billion a year on procurement.  There are also certain advantages to working with public sector organisations; they are required by EU law to be transparent and fair in the way they choose suppliers, they are very stable and reputable, and usually make prompt payments.

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You snooze, you lose!

If you have ever attempted to read the public procurement directives then you will know there are a number of regulations governing the advertising and award of public sector contracts. 

Contracts that fall below the EC procurement thresholds are not subject to these directives.  Below threshold contracts are subject to the rules and principles of the EC Treaty (including non-discrimination, equal treatment, transparency etc), and European Court of Justice case-law has indicated these contracts should be ‘sufficiently’ advertised.  However, aside from these rather ambiguous guidelines, there are no real rules regulating these contracts. 

OJEU tenders are required to follow specific regulations on timescales to allow suppliers adequate time to respond to tenders, not usually less than 22 days.  Below threshold tenders, however, often have much tighter deadlines.  To make this situation worse, below threshold contracts are found in literally hundreds of places, including websites, local and national newspapers, and trade journals, meaning that they cannot always be identified as soon as they are advertised.

It is therefore particularly important to respond to these contracts as soon as possible.  In fact, regardless of whether it is a below threshold or OJEU tender, it is advisable to make initial contact with the awarding authority as early as possible.  This can only increase the time you have to prepare your bid or Pre-Qualification Questionnaire.  It also means that the authority should keep you informed of any changes or further information relating to the tender.  Responding to the tender notice does not bind you to bidding for the contract, but if you miss the deadline, then you have missed your opportunity.  As the old saying goes “you snooze, you lose!”

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