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.

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.

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

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? Continue reading “Deciding what to bid for – less effort, more success!”

Millstream at the Public Sector Show on 23rd June in London

Millstream will be attending the Public Sector Show on the 23rd of June at London’s Excel Centre.

We will be showcasing our mytenders etendering system which helps Buyers to compile and publish contract notices automatically to both Contracts Finder and OJEU and our Training and Consultancy services which are there to support you to get the most out of the mytenders system and tackle common procurement challenges and skills gaps.

Come down and see us on stand 352 opposite the Crown Commercial Services stand and find out more about what we do and how we can support you and your procurement teams to remain compliant with new legislation, simplify your procurement Continue reading “Millstream at the Public Sector Show on 23rd June in London”

Little fish in a bid pond? How SMEs can break into public sector procurement.

A lot of potential suppliers to the public sector are put off by the amount of work it takes to become tender ready and what seems to be a chicken and egg situation where you need references to pass the PQQ (selection) stage but can’t get references until you win a contract!

The changes to the procurement regulations this year have made in roads to this situation with the abolition of PQQs for below threshold contracts and the removal of the burden of proof for above threshold contracts but there are a number of steps SMEs (and all organisations new to public sector tendering) can take to get a foot in the door and start supplying to the public sector. Continue reading “Little fish in a bid pond? How SMEs can break into public sector procurement.”

How do you challenge a buyer when you feel the procurement is flawed?

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This blog covers the remedies directive for the public sector and when/how you can raise a challenge against a contracting authority.

The EU Remedies Directive was created in 2007 and transposed into UK law with the updated Public Contracts Regulations in 2009. The Directive brought in two very clear and important changes for suppliers to be aware of which were:

  • a right to challenge the buyer if a contract is entered into before the compulsory standstill period has ended (standstill being the minimum 10 day period where buyers notify all bidders of the intended outcome before contracts can begin); and
  • an automatic right to challenge an award decision and have the contract cancelled or modified if there has been any breach of the wider procurement rules.

In addition, the 2009 Regulations introduced a number of other changes, including: Continue reading “How do you challenge a buyer when you feel the procurement is flawed?”

Countdown to the 2015 General Election – Procurement in the manifestos

With suppliers and buyers already busy understanding and implementing the 2015 Procurement Regulations they may find that the landscape shifts again after the general election in May. While the new regulations will stay in force and are unlikely to change with a new government, its important to understand what each of the main parties are saying about procurement and how that might impact the sector in the coming years.

Obviously wider policy initiatives such as NHS spending, defence projects and education reforms will have an impact on procurement but here is what each party has said in their manifesto about specific procurement policies (i.e. how they will change how procurement is conducted):

Conservatives

  • Will raise the target for SME’s involvement in procurement raising their share of central government procurement from 25% to 33%.

Continue reading “Countdown to the 2015 General Election – Procurement in the manifestos”

Public Contract Regulations 2015: The use of PINs in the restricted procedure

Under the new regulations there has been a change in the way a Prior Information Notice (PIN) can be used by sub-central contracting authorities in the restricted procedure and this blog will take a look at the change and what impact it has on this procedure.

In short a PIN can now be used, by sub-central contracting authorities, as a means of calling for competition in place of a contract notice (Regulation 28) and can also be used in place of a PQQ stage with selected suppliers being taken straight to the tendering stage. This is in addition to the traditional use of a PIN which is to notify the market of a possible opportunity so, under the new regulations, the PIN has a dual function. If the PIN is being used as a call to competition it must contain the information outlined in Annex V Part B I and II in the 2014 Procurement Directive. In summary the PIN must contain standard information such as: Continue reading “Public Contract Regulations 2015: The use of PINs in the restricted procedure”

2015 Procurement Regulations – Changes to the ITT stage – What Suppliers Need to Know.

Following on from our recent blog regarding the changes to the PQQ stage in the new 2015 Procurement Regulations we are going to look at what has changed at the ITT stage and what suppliers need to be aware of when tendering to the public sector.

The most important changes to the ITT stage for suppliers are:

1) There is now greater clarity regarding the rules on social and environmental aspects being taken into account in tenders meaning that:

  • social aspects can now also be taken into account in certain circumstances (in addition to environmental aspects which have previously been allowed);
  • contracting authorities can require certification/labels or other equivalent evidence of social/environmental characteristics, further facilitating procurement of contracts with social/environmental objectives;
  • contracting authorities can refer to factors directly linked to the production process.

The caveat to this is that any factors taken into account must be reasonably achievable for all suppliers so as not to favour larger companies or specific methodologies. We would encourage suppliers to keep a check on your key buyers to see what policies they have in these areas and how they are likely to implement these new rules. For example do they have a big drive on apprenticeships or carbon emissions you could support them on? In general it would be a good idea to start gathering data, case studies and evidence of your company’s positive social and environmental impacts to use in your responses going forward as the level of detail asked for in these questions is only going to increase.

2) Full life-cycle costing can be taken into account when awarding contracts; this could encourage more sustainable and/or better value procurement which will hopefully save money for tax payers in the long term. Continue reading “2015 Procurement Regulations – Changes to the ITT stage – What Suppliers Need to Know.”

2015 Procurement Regulations – Changes to the PQQ Stage – What Suppliers need to know.

As part of our series of blogs on the 2015 Procurement Regulations, we are going to look at the main changes to the two common stages in procurement – the PQQ stage in this blog and in a couple of days we will look at the ITT stage. It is important to know what changes you can expect and how you need to prepare for them if you are a supplier to the public sector.

The most important changes to the PQQ stage in the new regulations are:   

A turnover cap has been introduced to facilitate SME participation. Contracting authorities will not be able to set company turnover requirements at more than two times the contract value, except where there is a specific justification. This will be of benefit to a lot of suppliers but given the point made in our previous blog about contracting authorities not being mandated to break contracts down into lots this means you must have a turn over circa £223K (unless the contract is being broken down into lots) which will still inhibit a lot of smaller or newly established companies from competing.  In any case, from today make sure all contracts you are applying for follow this rule to open up as many doors as possible. If the turn over requirement is more than two times the contract value then ask why – there may be justification but it might just be an error that the procurement team can rectify, giving you the opportunity to compete for the business. Continue reading “2015 Procurement Regulations – Changes to the PQQ Stage – What Suppliers need to know.”

New 2015 Procurement Regulations – Will SMEs benefit from the changes?

The official public contracts regulations which govern UK public sector procurement have been published and are coming in to force on the 26th February 2015.

One of the main aims of the regulations and their precursor strategies ( such as Europe 2020 and the Lord Young report) was to encourage more participation from SME companies in tendering exercises and ultimately to get more SMEs supplying to the public sector.

The current government set the lofty target of 25% of government spend going to SMEs by 2015, a target which is a long way from being met so the key questions for organisations looking to supply into the public sector in light of the new regulations are 1) What has changed? and, more importantly, 2) What does this actually mean for me?

What has changed?

Some of the more significant changes in the new regulations are:

 

  • Tendering documents have to be available from the date of OJEU advertisement – no more registering interest and chasing for updates from the contracting authority.

 

  • Reduced timescales for procurement – on average they have reduced timeframes by a third and have introduced the new Accelerated Open procedure for OJEU tenders and have prohibited the use of a PQQ stage for low value contracts.

Continue reading “New 2015 Procurement Regulations – Will SMEs benefit from the changes?”

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