The hills are alive with the gentle rumblings and occasional cheers about the possibility of scrapping the PQQ (pre-qualifying questionnaire) stage of the public tender process.
Francis Maude has confirmed that by scraping certain parts of the PQQ process, it will help encourage small and medium-sized enterprises to win public sector contracts. Nice sentiment but is it really going to help the SME? At Win That Bid, we spend some of our working day with clients to help them with the tender writing and PQQ process and quite frankly some of them are so badly written and poorly assembled, you wander what the Buyer was thinking of. Maybe they were thinking of what they were going to do at the weekend or what they are going to have for lunch, definitely not thinking about the job in hand. Often they are riddled with errors, contradictory text and have confusing sentence structures which all add to the hassle of the tender writing task.
Inspite of these frustrations, we must remember that the questionnaire stage serves an important purpose. It helps the buyer reduce the amount of unsuitable bidders whilst suppliers spend a fraction of the time finding out whether they are/are not suitable. Imagine if the way to win contracts meant going straight to tender? This would mean that SME would have to spend much more time tendering to no avail which could ultimately mean less companies compete. Francis Maude’s intention is good, however, perhaps he needs to think about his approach. Perhaps it is not the process that is at fault, more the interpretation by buyers.
Often irrelevant questions are asked and demands for policies and procedures need to be met even if they have nothing to do with demonstrating one’s capability at delivering the actual service. Francis Maude should focus on delivering more training and guidelines to buyers as well as reviewing the PQQ process to ensure the all important fairness to the SME market.
What do you think? Tell us or drop us a line on any aspect of the tender writing process.