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!”
The most common question that we get from Tenders Direct customers is: ‘What rights do we have once we put in a bid?’
The answer to that is dependent on what stage of the process the supplier is at and the rights for both stages are listed below:
For the PQQ
Questions should only be asked of your company and not your potential solution (It should be about selection of suppliers and not an evaluation of your product).
Buyers have a legal requirement to notify candidates eliminated at the PQQ stage “as soon as reasonably practicable”.
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?”
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.”
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.”
The government faces the challenge of making progress on its new procurement operational model while working with departments’ existing contracts, industry experts said.
At the end of 2010, John Collington of the Efficiency Reform Group (ERG), announced that his team aimed to transform the way government buys commonly used goods and services through category management, standard specification and aggregation of spend, to save 25% over 4years.
The 9 categories to begin this central procurement model are:
Energy, office supplies and professional services as the first three categories to be undertaken by March 2011.
Travel, fleet and telecoms will be addressed by June 2011
IT commodities, print management and advertising and media will be tackled by September 2011.
With March 2011 fast approaching, it is the wise supplier who keeps abreast of developments in this area
A spokesman for Price Waterhouse Coopers said, “Some contracts could be terminated, others will have to run their course,” he said. “The costs of ending contracts could be more inefficient than keeping them alive. There could be many different deals kept running when less have been identified as needed. It will take longer than nine months to get all nine areas tackled.”
The Cabinet Office declined to comment on how it would end multiple contracts with existing suppliers in individual Whitehall departments in order to enable the introduction of a centralised model.
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.
Do you find yourself scrambling with every tender the day before the deadline, frantically gathering your tender documents and cutting and pasting 75% of the tender together? It might be time to put together your Bid Team. Putting together a great tender is more than one person’s job, however in a busy working environment it tends to fall on the laps of busy people who already have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Take a stand! Start your Bid Team today!
Let’s start with this essential piece of advice:
Do not make the mistake of going after every tender!
It can be appealing to start off on this footing when you see a flood of tender notices coming through, all of which apparently match your business area. But are you remembering how high bidding costs can be and have you really thought about your chances of winning? Companies who bid for everything are not normally the most successful. Bidding on the wrong contract can be a waste of resources if you have no chance of winning so you need to think about things a bit more strategically and start targeting specific opportunities to make the most of your time and resources. Don’t just enter to make up the numbers.
Have you ever come across a tender that looks interesting but you just don’t have a clue what it’s talking about?
Buyers, often with the best intentions, sometimes include terminology that is quite frankly harder to understand than ‘The Theory of Everything’ by Stephen Hawkings. If you’re new to public sector tendering, here’s a simple jargon buster of some of the most commonly used terms that may just save your PC from being thrown out the window…!