Author Archives

Gemma Waring

I am the current Head of Training and Consultancy for Millstream Associates and have over 8 years of experience in tendering for public sector contracts. I am also a qualified trainer and design and develop our training courses for buyers and suppliers in the public sector.

Procurement in the 2017 Manifestos – The Facts

With recent global, politically disruptive events such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, there were  already enough question marks floating around about what it would all mean for UK public sector procurement.

So now with the added and unexpected complexity of the 2017 General Election in just one week’s time, procurement professionals and suppliers msurvey-2316468_1280ay be wondering what changes procurement may face  12 months down the line.

At Millstream, we have taken a look at each of the main party’s manifestos to see what mention there is of procurement, and also if there are any major policies that might impact the sector.  NOTE: Text in italics is lifted directly from the manifestos.

Conservative

Labour

Lib Dem

PC

SNP

UKIP.png

So there you have it – Labour and UKIP have produced definitive actions regarding procurement which would have significant impacts on how the public sector procure goods, services and works. The other parties, focusing their messages on encouraging SMEs and localised spend.

Whatever your choice on 8th June, it is good to know how your vote might influence your job or your business.

 

Millstream Logo

 

References/links to Manifestos:

Conservative Party Manifesto

Labour Party Manifesto

Liberal  Democrat Manifesto

Plaid Cymru Manifesto

SNP Manifesto

UKIP Manifesto

Meeting social value criteria: 5 Steps

Social Value

The Social Value Act came out as legislation from 2012 and has recently hit the headlines again via the Crown Commercial Service.

The act concerns the benefits you, as a supplier, can bring to a public sector contract to improve the local area you are working in. This can be in many different forms such as providing apprenticeships, working on charitable projects or supporting local enterprise development.

From now on, social value is now becoming a weighted part of the evaluation criteria in tendering: what was originally 60% price and 40% quality will more than likely now be moving to 50% price 40% quality and 10% on social value. In fact social value might make up to 20% of the evaluation criteria as has been noted in the strategic approach of local councils such as Knowsley and Manchester.

Suppliers will also have to effectively manage and monitor their social value activity to prove the promises listed in their tender documents come to fruition.

How do you prepare for social value evaluation?

  1. Understand the concept: Some suppliers fall into the trap of thinking they can shoehorn their existing environmental and sustainability actions to fit and this will rarely prove effective. Read these examples from the Crown Commercial Service to gain an insight into social value in practice
  2. Engage with your key buyers: Ask direct questions pre-procurement such as ‘What are your important areas of work in social value?’ You might find synergies between buyers and your company ethos.
  3. Look at your work: Sometimes suppliers may be fulfilling the social value criteria but don’t record it or recognise it. For example: Do you employ locally? Support local suppliers in the supply chain? Offer apprenticeships? Do any community or charity work?
  4. Look at gaps and practicalities of implementing new processes: Suppliers need to fill in any gaps they have in social value activities. But, think through the implications of any additional social value measures you might want to put in place. For example, offering apprenticeships will affect your HR team, line managers and the wage bill.
  5. Document it: Your social value activities are only as valuable as your ability to prove you have done them and that they have been effective. You need to have case studies, data and statistics to quote in your tenders to demonstrate that you have done what you said you would and that it has made a positive impact socially.

 

Here are some additional sources of info on The Social Value Act:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-value-act-information-and-resources/social-value-act-information-and-resources

http://inspiringimpact.org/

https://socialvalueportal.com/social-value-taskforce/

http://www.socialvaluehub.org.uk/

If you require any further support or guidance leave us a comment or get in touch 01224 650 772 or email gemma@millstream.eu

Developing a bid strategy in a challenging marketplace

Strat Blog

Set your own strategy – be proactive not reactive when tendering.

 

Recently, Millstream highlighted the strength of Virgin’s approach to business development in our article featured on Energy Voice’s website. Virgin have championed diversification across sectors to generate more business opportunities: taking people to space, running the railways and providing healthcare services are just a few examples of Virgins product range.

This approach to business has resulted in staggering financial rewards for Virgin and other companies who are able to operate as primes in the prime/sub model.

The prime/sub model is when a large contractor wins the tender and are the prime contractor to the buying authority, they subcontract out elements of the tender to other suppliers, usually locally based SMEs.

So what impact does the prime/sub model have on SMES?

We all know there has been a massive drive from the government to support SMEs to benefit from the wealth of opportunities in the public sector.

This has been seen through their commitment to spend 33% of central government money with SMEs and also through the changes to the selection criteria in 2016 making it easier for SMEs to bid.

The question is – when huge prime contractors are winning huge contracts and replacing existing smaller providers, how is the government’s agenda being achieved?

The answer is it usually isn’t: when a prime contractor wins a public sector contract they are ultimately responsible for delivery and are looking to make profit. This often has a negative impact on the finances for SMEs as the prime contractor seeks to find efficiencies and cost savings through the supply chain to increase their own profit.

When a supplier is faced with the potential of the prime/sub model taking up a chunk of their business or taking away a business critical tender, many SMEs may feel they have no option but to join the supply chain if they are to survive.

However, that might not be their only option to succeed! Facing your Goliath means you have to find your inner David and seek out a new way to do business.

So what is the answer?

The answer is simple – have a strategy in place. Nothing stays the same in business and this is the next big challenge smaller providers are facing. There are a number of proactive steps suppliers can take to ready themselves for any impending changes:

  • Pre- Engage with the Contracting Authorities – in these situations waiting for the tender is too late. The only way suppliers can influence hearts and minds is to engage in advance of the tender being released. Use Tenders Direct to search for contract award notices (CANs) to find out when a contract is due to end, or to gain contact details from key buyers. You can also keep an eye out for prior information notices (PINS) which notify you of a future procurement exercise and give you plenty of time to pre-engage with the contracting authorities.

 

  • Form a consortium – rather than get swallowed up into the jaws of a prime contractor, suppliers can meet with other local providers to see if they can form a consortium or a special purpose vehicle and bid together. These groups of suppliers can then trade on their established infrastructure and wealth of experience and be able to trade on their own terms.

 

  • Join the team – some may relish the prospect of joining a supply chain. Suppliers will lose a lot of responsibility and liability when it isn’t their name on the contract, and some may prefer to operate with a lower steak in the contract with less risk rather than nothing at all.

 

These potential strategies translate across industries and sectors. Millstream meet with suppliers every day and as a qualified bid manager, I am constantly surprised how many do not have a documented and thought out bidding strategy.

I encourage suppliers to be proactive and take control of their destiny.

Working in the public sector can offer suppliers long term, well-paying business opportunities, and these deserve just as much time and attention as an internal strategy.

If you want to analyse your own bidding strategy or even create one from scratch, you should join our half day Success Simplified courses in London and Manchester and make sure you are deciding on your business’s future and not leaving it in the past.

The tender matchmaker…

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It’s Valentine’s Day. That time of year when people pay attention to the special connections they have in life and take a bit of time to celebrate them. Or maybe you are still looking for some special connections? Still searching for that one relationship with long term potential, stability and plenty of money…

Of course, here we’re talking about your business connections – specifically your connections with public sector buyers and tendering. With contract life spans of three years plus, 30 day payment terms and a high chance of you retaining a contract once you’ve won it once – what’s not to love? Continue reading “The tender matchmaker…”

The end of onerous practices in UK Procurement?

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On Monday of this week the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) released a Public Policy Note (PPN) on ‘Onerous Practices in Procurement and Contracting’. Put simply they are referring to procurement practices which place far too much risk on the supplier. This in

Continue reading “The end of onerous practices in UK Procurement?”

Tendering in Ireland: A new era of fair procurement practice?

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Working with customers in Ireland through our Tenders Direct Ireland service we have traditionally heard anecdotal tales of poor procurement practices. Worrying issues such as cartels controlling certain sectors, bid price rigging and corrupt evaluation processes have all been highlighted not just by our customers but through news sources in Ireland. The net impact of this on the spend of buying authorities in Ireland is catastrophic: an Continue reading “Tendering in Ireland: A new era of fair procurement practice?”

The new Selection Questionnaire – the end of the PQQ?

 

PreQualification

A simplified selection stage has been welcomed by both suppliers and buyers in the public sector.

 

On 26 September 2016, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) released the new Selection Questionnaire which is, with immediate effect, replacing the Standard PQQ which was itself only released in February 2015.

So why the change? What exactly has changed? And, most importantly what does this mean for suppliers to the public sector?

Why the change?

The form has been changed to align closer with the text and structure of the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD). The usage of the ESPD has been mandated across Europe and will be rolled out fully across the UK in the near future. The ESPD has been created to make tendering easier for smaller businesses, a key driver of the amendments to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, and means that suppliers can submit their ESPD during the selection stage rather than full tender documents.

So, why do we need the new Selection Questionnaire then? Simply put, the system in place in England is not yet able to roll out a uniform ESPD platform. So, for now the buying authorities can accept the ESPD, the Selection Questionnaire or use a procurement portal such as Millstream’s mytenders

What exactly has changed?

Continue reading “The new Selection Questionnaire – the end of the PQQ?”

Maintained Schools and Academies – Exemptions from the Public Contracts Regulations 2015

One of the main drivers of change in the Public Contracts Regulations of 2015 was to create a more open playing field for SMEs. This was brought about through a number of initiatives including the advertising of opportunities on Contracts Finder and improved payment terms for invoices.

It seems strange then that a part of the public sector should be made exempt from these requirements, namely maintained schools and academies especially considering that they are prime customers for small local businesses.

Continue reading “Maintained Schools and Academies – Exemptions from the Public Contracts Regulations 2015”

Millstream Associates announce 14% rise in UK-wide Construction tenders

The North East of England is to benefit from new public sector business opportunities in the construction industry as leading e-tender service provider Millstream Associates attends local event.

Millstream Associates will be showcasing their flagship product Tenders Direct, at Constructionline’s North East Meet the Buyer event in Sedgefield, on Thursday 10th September 2015.

The construction industry accounts for 6.1% of the total economic output in the UK, worth £103bn and resulting in 2.10million jobs in 2014. The industry has experienced fluctuations in growth since the recession, but from 2013 Continue reading “Millstream Associates announce 14% rise in UK-wide Construction tenders”

Millstream – a streamlined future for our procurement support service.

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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