We understand public sector tendering is a complex process. At Tender Victory we strive to demystify the complexities as much as possible to help you understand in “Plain English” the jargon and procedures involved.

Please find here some of the most common questions that we are asked, particularly by businesses that are new to tendering. If you need answers to questions that we haven’t covered, please get in touch.

Tendering procedures are formal approaches, regulated by Public Contracts Regulations 2015, that we have identified below. However, there are also distinct stages to tendering, which we feel are worthy of clarification here: There can be numerous stages that make up the tender process:

  • Advertising the tender opportunity
  • Selection Questionnaire (SQ) (previously known as PQQ)
  • SQ evaluation
  • Invitation to Tender (ITT)
  • ITT evaluation
  • Contract award

Some organisations may choose to combine the SQ and ITT, in an Open Procedure procurement. The SQ procedure is there to evaluate your:

  • Capacity
  • Capability
  • Experience

We think that Surrey County Council have done a great job of outlining tender procedures.

Tendering documents may vary from organisation to organisation but generally they will include:

  • Selection questionnaire
  • Tender questionnaire – incorporating quality/technical questions and pricing schedule
  • Specification aka statement of requirements
  • Instructions and guidance on the procurement process
  • Explanation of evaluation criteria
  • Terms and conditions of the contract
  • Buyer’s policies
  • Form of tender
  • Confidentiality document
  • Freedom of Information declaration
  • Social value and/or community benefits
  • Equality and diversity
  • Environmental requirements
  • Business continuity requirements

You will be asked to complete all of the above, including your detailed offer (quality questions)  in addition to supplying supporting documents which could include:

  • Insurance certificates
  • Accounts
  • References
  • Case studies
  • Community benefits
  • Equality and diversity information
  • Policy documents as specific to the requirement and specification

The most frequently used public sector tendering procedures are:

  • Open tender
  • Restricted tender
  • Competitive dialogue procedure
  • Negotiated tender

The preferred method of tendering in public procurement is currently the open procedure.

Each buying organisation will have different requirements, generally government organisations will try to be as inclusive as possible however there are still sometimes restrictions on a business’s turnover, previous similar experience and accreditation to standards e.g. ISO 9001 or similar.

It is crucial that you read all of the Contract Notice to ensure that you meet the basic criteria before investing your time in the tender response.

It can be worth querying the criteria if you don’t meet it, as some buyers may be able to review certain criteria, in certain circumstances.

The benefits of tendering can be individual to each business, but generally for the SME’s we work with, we find that it opens doors to large contracts that they would otherwise not have known about. With tendering it isn’t about ‘who you know’. Tendering puts you on an equal and level playing field with your competitors and you can tender against large and small organisations. The company that meets the buyers requirements most fully will be awarded the contract. A further benefit of tendering for small businesses is that public sector contracts are often long term, forecastable contracts that you can plan into your business strategy.

An organisation e.g. a local authority will use a tender process to find a suitable supplier for an existing or new requirement for their organisation.

The tender notices will be published on websites such as Contracts Finder (for lower value tenders), the Government’s Find-a-Tender Service (for higher value tenders), and also TED (Tenders European Daily) for high value opportunities in the EU. You can find out more about where to find tenders in our handy blog.

These tender notices are open and public and allow every eligible organisation to respond.

Find out more about tendering by reading our blogs and help guides.

Open tendering is the most common form of tendering used by government, local authorities and similar. Open tenders will be published on websites such as Contracts Finder (for lower value tenders), the Government’s Find-a-Tender Service (for higher value tenders), and also TED (Tenders European Daily) for high value opportunities in the EU. You can find out more about where to find tenders in our handy blog.

The open tender procedure is used when buyers have non-complex procurement requirements that can be competed, evaluated and awarded in a single stage procurement procedure.

The restricted procedure is used for more complex and specialist contract opportunities and also in cases where a vast number of suppliers within the marketplace may need shortlisting or restricting. Only selected/invited companies will be able to submit a response to these tenders, once they have passed the Selection Questionnaire stage.

Tendering offers a fair way for all participating organisations to be able to equally bid for work. It removes the who knows who element and allows businesses to win contracts having competed on a level playing field. Also, importantly, it gives buyers best value due to the competitive nature of sealed bidding.

Tender notices will be published on websites such as Contracts Finder (for lower value tenders), the Government’s Find-a-Tender Service (for higher value tenders), and also TED (Tenders European Daily) for high value opportunities in the EU. You can find out more about where to find tenders in our handy blog.

You can also access our helpful eSourcing Directory, which lists free-to-register tender portals by region.

Public Sector Buyers will publish a Prior Information Notice (PIN) before listing an SQ, ITT or RFQ. When you see this published you should engage early with the buyer to let them know you are interested in submitting a bid for their tender and ensure you register to receive any alerts about any early engagement meetings or similar. 

At an organisational level, a winning bid strategy makes the best use of your businesses resources and improves your win rate when pursuing tender opportunities. This bid strategy can be a formal approach (that you create for your business) that enables you to carefully select the right tenders to bid for. Those that will offer the greatest rewards and highest win rates.

At a tender specific level, a bid strategy can also refer to a specific plan for an individual tender submission, that will enable your bid team to develop a planned approach and the resources and inputs required to successfully bid for the contract,

We provide bespoke coaching packages that help you to uncover your winning bid strategy. Find out more here.

We were thrilled to be awarded the contract to support small, medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in the Devon County Council area to become Local Authority Procurement Ready! Our delivery of this contract helped almost 50 SMEs to better understand procurement and tenders and enable them to bid for opportunities in the public sector – in turn supporting the local economy of the communities they work in. Tender support was delivered through a blend of 2 hour group workshops and/or hour long individual 1:1 sessions. If you are interest in participating in a future similar scheme, please drop us a line to express your interest!