The Public Contract Regulations 2015 have placed an undeniable elephant in the room of procurement for many public sector organisations.
Given the latest legislative procedures, the question now is what value the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) truly provides.
Traditionally, a PQQ kick-started the procurement progress. Regardless of whether the full tender documents were available, all that was necessary to start the procurement was information about the project, as well as the assessment criteria that would be used to identify the right suppliers.
However, this approach often ran the risk of PQQs being published without the procurement strategy being sufficiently considered to ensure the best prospects were bidding for the work in question. The devil is in the detail when it comes to procurement. Robust and accurate tender documents can make or break the process and to go out without them opens a buyer up to a whole host of possible difficulties further down the line. It’s widely accepted that, in the interests of time, a PQQ has previously been used as a smokescreen to suggest something is happening in the absence of a clear and well-thought-out procurement strategy.
Now, buyers are required by law to have all tender information ready upfront which is advantageous as it puts them up at the start line and ready to go live without any stalling from a PQQ.
A further advantage from the single stage process is that it allows all prospective suppliers to be invited to tender in the knowledge that not all tenders will be eligible for evaluation. This will be determined by assessing responses to just a few simple questions rather than responses to reams of questions which place a significant burden on companies, especially those with limited resources.
Ultimately, the open procedure allows all those involved to achieve the same result in less time, with the added reassurance of improved bid quality as bidders are able to concentrate on the tender rather than the pre-qualification. It’s also well known the commercial offer provided by bidders is truly what counts to businesses and this is easily accessed through this way of working without the unnecessary excess of a PQQ.
It’s understandable that members of our profession are loath to relinquish the PQQ given how much has been invested in its use and development, but its purpose has fallen foul of improvements in our sector that leave little choice but to cut the ties for the benefit of both bidder and buyer.
☛ Clare Tetlow is senior procurement manager on behalf of Re:allies