If you have not tendered before and are wondering how you can prepare your business for tendering (without the pressure of a looming deadline), there is plenty that you can do to make sure that you and your business are ready to answer the standard questions with ease and make a great start to the other areas of your response. In this blog we have refreshed our previous post on this subject, bringing it up to date with the standard Selection Questionnaire recommended by government for use in tenders.
To get you started, below we have provided some typical questions that are asked in an Open ITT (Invitation to Tender) or Restricted SQ (Selection Questionnaire). In addition to the completion of various declarations, forms and certificates, in our experience the following questions are typical of a higher value tender process which is captured by the Public Contract Regulations 2015. This is an indicative list and does not assume to include all questions that may be raised in a tender. It is provided to give an idea of content and enable you to prepare for forthcoming tenders, without the pressure of the associated deadlines. If you can prepare answers to all of these questions, this will make the initial stages of tendering less of a burden.
This list does not include questions that are specific to your industry/product/service.
- Company Name
- Registered Office Address
- Website Address
- Trading Status/Type of Company or Organisation (e.g. Private, Private Limited Company, Partnership Local Authority, Government Agency, Voluntary Body, Registered Charity, etc.)
- Date of registration and registration number for the country of origin. For UK companies this is your registered company number issued via Companies House
- Charity Registration Number
- DUNS number, this is the reference number specific to your organisation that is created and issued by Dunn and Bradstreet
- VAT number
- Registration with professional organisations, this may be a trade related register or professional membership that is specific to your industry, for example registration with the Environment Agency for waste carriers, or with NICEIC for electrical installation services.
- Trading name that will be used for the contract awarded under this procurement
- Company classification (e.g. voluntary, sheltered workshop, public service mutual)
- SME status
- Person’s of Significant Control – details of which can also be found on Companies House
- Parent Company and Ultimate Parent Company information
- Bidding model questions then follow which refer to the model for the bid, working with sub-contractors or as a consortium (if this applies to your bidding model)
The exclusion questions within tender documents seek your declaration that no mandatory or discretionary exclusion grounds apply that would prevent you from bidding.
A financial appraisal is usually undertaken, this may be at SQ stage or as part of due diligence at award. You are often asked to provide company accounts for the previous 2-3 financial years, and you may also be requested to supply a Bank Reference letter or your bank details for the buyers to contact for a reference. Accounts may be requested at the time of submission, or perhaps in the due diligence phase undertaken by buyers after tender evaluation. A qualitative assessment is often made by the buyers in order to gauge levels of financial risk. A judgement will be made on the outcome of the financial assessment and suppliers may be excluded, taking into consideration other risk factors. Each buyer/authority will detail their approach in their documents.
In addition to requests for company accounts, balance sheets and/or profit and loss statements, some buyers also request key financial information such as those detailed in the list below. Quite often the previous 2 or 3 years are requested (or for the period that is available if trading for less than three years).
a. Financial Year ending:
b. Annual Turnover:
c. Pre-Tax Profit:
d. Closing Stock:
e. Fixed Assets:
f. Current Assets:
g. Current Liabilities:
h. Net Assets:
i. Capital Employed:
j. Share Capital:
k. Net Worth:
l. Cash & Trade Debtors:
Details of insurance policies held are usually requested. It is typical for authorities to request to see current policies, again as part of the SQ stage or during checks made as part of award. Buyers will state their insurance limits of liability required for the contract, which may mean that you need to commit to increasing your insurance limits, should you be successful in winning the contract. Types of insurance requested include;
• Public Liability
• Employers Liability
• Professional Indemnity
• Products Liability
• Provide names and addresses of any accredited bodies and/or industry associations to which your Company belongs that would be relevant to the Contract
• List any other relevant professional/trade accreditations
At a buyers discretion in each individual procurement, they may also ask about:
• Do you have an accredited quality management system?
• How do you ensure quality in the delivery of your products/services?
• Is your Company ISO9001 accredited – if no, do you have an in-house quality control system?
Equality & Diversity
In addition to being asked to provide your Equality/Diversity Policy you may also be asked questions such as:
• Are you able to provide equality and diversity training for managers and staff?
• Are you able to report and consult on equality issues with your workforce?
• It is your legal responsibility as an employer to comply with statutory obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Please confirm your organisations status in relation to the Equality Act 2010
• In the last three years has your organisation been the subject of any formal investigation by the Commission for Racial Equality, The Equal Opportunities Commission or the Disability Rights Commission on grounds of alleged unlawful discrimination?
Health and Safety
• If you employ more than five people you are required to have an established Health and Safety Policy. Does your organisation have an established Health and Safety Policy conforming to UK National Legislation? If so, enclose a copy if the tender instructions request it. You may also be asked about your Health and Safety Training.
• If you employ more than five people the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires you to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as I reasonable practicable, the health and safety at work of your employees. If at all possible, you should appoint one or more of your employees to deliver this training however if there is no one with the relevant knowledge, experience and skills in your organisation who can be relied on to deal effectively with health and safety training you need to enlist someone who has.
• Details of your Health and Safety Officer, including name, and qualifications.
Many authorities request that you provide references (often up to 3) from existing or past clients – these may also be referred to as Contract Examples. Buyers do take up these references, so when deciding which referees to use, you may want to consider:
• Are they available to respond to the reference when the authority contacts them?
• Is their contract similar in nature to the contract that you are tendering for?
• From what sector is the referee? Many authorities ask that one of your references come from other public sector customers.
Reference information typically requested:
• Company/Organisation Name and Address
• Contact Name and Job Title
• E-Mail Address
• Nature of Contract and Contract Title/Reference Number
• Value of Contract
Public sector authorities encourage service providers to carry out services on their behalf in an environmentally friendly manner. You are likely to be asked to supply a copy of your environmental policy. And also supply copies of any accreditation held (i.e. ISO 14001).
• It is a requirement that your Organisation complies with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the Data Protection Act 2018.
• You may be asked to provide detail information on your approach to Data Protection, if the handling or processing of data is a key part of the contract requirement.
You may be asked to provide a copy of your Business Continuity Plan. You will need to consider what your plan includes in relation to the contract you are tendering for. The buyers want to be assured that you will be able to continue to supply them even in the event of an unforeseen incident. You may also receive further specific questions relating to business continuity in relation to the contract.