A few months ago my colleague Cindy published a blog on the Pet Hates of Buyers which went through some of the main issues that buyers have had when dealing with suppliers. This blog will consider the other side of the coin and cover some of the pet hates that suppliers have when bidding for tenders.
Through my experience working in the Tenders Direct support team I have put together this blog from feedback that we have received from our customers and other external companies that are involved in public sector tendering.
The issues can be broken down into two main areas. Firstly all issues relating to the tendering process (planning, identifying the needs, market analysis and tendering) and secondly all issues that relate to the post tender activities (contract management, supplier relationship management and the actual performance of the contract). Continue reading “Pet Hates of Suppliers (What not to do if you are a buyer)”
With £714 billion being spent on the public sector in the UK in 2014 you may feel that there is plenty of business to go around. However, if you are considering broadening your options or want to look further afield you could consider bidding for tenders across the European Union.
The European Union was created on the basis of it being a single market which includes the free movement of goods, capital, people and services across all member states. In practice this means that a UK company should have an equal chance of winning a tender in a different EU member state as the local companies and there should be no barrier to intra-EU trade. We often hear of dissatisfaction that local contracts in the UK have been awarded to non-local suppliers and so this could be considered the other side of that coin.
While it may seem like it is easy to go for these types of opportunities there are certain things that need to be considered before taking the leap! All the points made by my colleague Gemma on this blog: How SMEs can break into the public sector will apply but there will be other aspects that will need to be considered as well.
Continue reading “Tendering across Europe – How to step out of the UK”
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”.
Continue reading “Your Rights as a Supplier”
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 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?”
Are Procurement Standards Slipping or Are the Powers That be getting Stricter?
I feel that every tweet, RSS and blog is talking about another authority getting pulled up and challenged on one of their “sweep-it-under-the-rug” tenders.
The European Commission has requested Greece to ensure full compliance with EU rules on public procurement – the purchase of goods and services by public authorities – as regards school bus services and the supply of underground electricity cables….. Read the rest of the post
A survey by the Local Government Association published this week has revealed. Although only a small pool, the result is interesting as it makes you wonder if this is a common trend across government. Only 36% of respondents believe that the EU Remedies Directive has led to more efficient and effective procurement practices.
The Remedies Directive aims to strengthen the hand of losing suppliers to challenge contracts under the OJEU. It highlights steps suppliers can take to challenge the award of a public contract. A key change is the remedy of “ineffectiveness” which gives courts the powers to scrap a contract in particular circumstances including, if it has not been advertised, the “standstill” period has been ignored or if the rules governing a framework agreement have been broken.
The launch of specifications for sustainable procurement and collaborative working offers a powerful tool for suppliers and purchasers. Lord Jones, former director-general of the CBI, believes they should form part of any organisation’s strategic weaponry. UK businesses operate in a highly competitive global environment where agility, efficiency and innovation are the watchwords of success and standardisation weaponry.
Suppliers that comply with standards often have a competitive advantage as buyers will often use compliance to choose between comparable suppliers. Standardisation also promotes interoperability along the supply chain and provides the competitive edge that is necessary for effective worldwide trading.
BS 8903:2010 launched in Summer 2010 set out the principles and framework for sustainable procurement and also provides practical advice on the implementation of the framework practices. It has been developed by participants drawn from many sources including the private sector, pressure groups and the public sector.
BS 1100-1:2010, published October 2010, was developed with input from many industries and its longer term objective is to move to an ISO standard. It provides a strategic framework to improve collaborative relationships and explores partner selection, working together, value creation and relationship maturity.
With an increasing emphasis from buyers on this area, it is the wise supplier that will educate themselves on these standards to give themselves the competitive edge, that Lord Digby refers to.
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.
Continue reading “Avoiding Risky Business”