Pre-Qualification Questionnaires… there a light in the tunnel, again?

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Every now and again, the public sector awake to the sound of a gathering crowd.  They’re amassed at the door and they have a common message, we want change.

There is a crowd gathering at the moment, the crowd consists of business development managers, bid managers, contract managers and their support staff. They represent the complete spectrum of industry, from SMEs through to national companies, and they all want change. They want change to the way in which procurement teams require their core company information to be presented time and again, in order to be considered for a tender opportunity. They want changes to the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) process across the board.

Their argument is simple; they consider the majority of the PQQ process to be a drain of vital resource, with PQQ after PQQ asking for the same information in a slightly different manner. It’s estimated that 75% of the information on each PQQ is considered ‘generic’. With each public sector authority, and national companies for that matter, having their specific targets and directives, is it seemingly impossible to have a generic, country wide system?

PQQ’s take time to complete too, even if a bid manager has all his/her company information systematically filed, a bank of relevant case studies, a team of supporting colleagues; managers, accountants and safety officers all on hand to instantly field the technical questions, the document is unlikely to be finished inside a day. If you’re doing ten PQQ’s a month, you’ve lost almost 50% of the capacity of the person responsible for completing them, and let’s face it, SME’s do not have the luxury of a full time bid manager on the payroll.

However, there may be a light in the tunnel with the possibility that contractors can save time and money in the coming months. The Government plans to align the Pre-Qualification questionnaire process. Currently the department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) is developing a “Publicly Available Specification” (PAS) in conjunction with the British Standards Institute (BSI). The goal is to agree a standard form for the generic PQQ questions which should be adopted across the public sector.

BERR hope that the common system will be universally accepted, and that ‘major stakeholders’ across the public sector will be expected get onboard. However, a PAS is not a full British Standard; it will not be compulsory to subscribe to it. Expectation is high however, and if everyone does get onboard it will help companies avoid paid membership schemes offering similar services.

Will it help? With existing successful organisations such as constructionline already well established, will the PAS be just another registration requirement? Or will systems such as construction line be expected to fall into line?

For example, a PQQ frustration comes to business owners when a pass/fail question arises in a public sector PQQ asking contractors to prove they are constructionline registered. No problem at all with that, however the PQQ then continues to ask some of the same information as contained in the constructionline registration information. Effectively you have to add the same information twice. Will suppliers and contractors now be asked to demonstrate that they are PAS and constructionline registered?

The jury is out on whether PAS is a light at the end of the tunnel, or a colleague with a torch and another mountain of paperwork.

One thing is for sure; at the moment PQQ’s are not going away, in fact all indications are that they will become more frequently required. They are a vital and necessary part of procurement, and love them or hate them, it’s generally acknowledged that without them it would make the job of procurement by the public sector and large organisations almost impossible.

Regardless of the introduction of PAS, which will hopefully bring about much needed order to a currently very diverse system,  the information submitted with a PQQ will still be required to be robust, relevant  and professionally presented. There are specialist expert organisations out there such as Simply MarComms who are perfect for SME’s to outsource the task of PQQ and tender submission, making a cost effective alternative to recruitment and freeing up the capacity of managers to deliver the job they’re paid to do. It makes good business sense to outsource too, expert advice can mean the difference between stalling at the PQQ stage with a poorly constructed submission and making it to stage two of the procurement process and proceeding to tender.

For larger organisations with full time bid managers, outsourcing PQQ’s and tenders when additional resource is required is the sensible thing to do. Never miss an opportunity when capacity is stretched. It also makes sense to cast a fresh set of eyes over bid submissions periodically, review your approach and build robust submissions that are hard for buyers to ignore. Simply Marcomms can offer a full suite of packages to support your bid submissions and effectively promote your business. The can be contacted on 0870 199 4044.

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2 Responses to “Pre-Qualification Questionnaires… there a light in the tunnel, again?”

  1. Will Mann says:

    Hello -This article makes sense! I just hope we can get to a point where we aren’t wasting so much time duplicating content.

  2. It’s about time one central data base was set up for prospective clients of all industries to search.
    I have spent so much time in the past getting accredited by various agencies, many at a financial cost and that I knew would in the long term be a waste of energy, i.e. no new business.

    So power to the people – bring on the revolution!

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