As of September 2016, all contracting authorities in England (and most of those in Wales & Northern Ireland) have been legally obliged to replace the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) with the new Selection Questionnaire (SQ).
This has been done to align us with European procurement legislation; and with the purpose of making it easier for SMEs to tender as they can self-certify regarding compliance with exclusion and selection criteria and only have to provide supporting evidence if they have been selected as a winning bidder.
This is great news as the Selection Questionnaire reduces the need for you to submit supporting documents every time you wish to bid for a public contract. If you do win however and the required evidence is not provided within the set timescale or it proves unsatisfactory then the award may be retracted so it’s important that you can provide what self-declare at short notice!
The new SQ is split into 3 parts, the first two of which are mandatory and cannot be amended in any way:
- Part 1 covers supplier information (e.g. contact details, trade memberships, company structure, group bidding etc).
- Part 2 is a self declaration specifying that you have not breached any of the exclusion grounds (predominantly yes/no answers). These are pass/fail questions.
- Part 3 can be amended if justified and covers a self-declaration regarding whether the company meets the selection criteria in respect of their financial standing and technical/professional ability and past performance.
- Economic & financial standing including a self certification that you meet the minimum requirements.
- Past performance evaluated by provision of references which may include examples of contracts performed within the last three years that are relevant to the requirement. You will be asked to supply the name of the organisation, contact details, description of the contact/services provided (of which more below!), contract start and end dates and estimated value. Referees may be required provide written confirmation that the information provided in this section is accurate.
- If you are acting as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) of any sort you will be asked about your ability to manage performance across the supply chain and your payment terms for suppliers where you are expected to adhere to payment within 30 days of a valid invoice being received.
- Project specific questions that are relevant and proportionate to the requirement.
- Confirmation of compliance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
- Confirmation that you have (or will have) insurances to specified levels. These should reflect the nature of work to be carried out and the risk involved.
- Skills development and apprenticeship initiatives which may require suppliers to run apprenticeships as part of their contract delivery. This currently only applies to contracts run by Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies with a value of over £10m and lasting for 12 months or longer.
So what can you do to prepare for completing the Selection Questionnaire?
The most time consuming part of the Selection Questionnaire is without doubt the references required in Part 3. Time and again we work with recruitment agencies who struggle to provide a description of the contracts that they hold or the services they provide.
These may not necessarily be formal contracts with public sector bodies. This about your clients and the campaigns you have run or agreements that you have in place that most closely resemble the requirement. The description of the contract/services provided should have a reasonable level of detail and not just be “provision of temporary and permanent recruitment services”. This is your opportunity to showcase your processes and what you have achieved. A recent public sector body obligingly included “what good looks like” in their explanation and wanted this section of the reference (or case study) to include:
- Candidate attraction strategy
- Details of selling the client to the candidates
- Pre-employment screening checks
- Full interview process
- Briefing of candidates
- Stakeholder engagement approach
- Account management support and structure
- Bespoke service levels and KPIs
- The number of placements made
- An explanation of how feedback was provided to unsuccessful candidates
- Management information and review process
Suggested New Year’s resolution!
Why not make your life easier and start compiling a list of your key clients and pull together up to date information to help you write about these contracts. Task your teams with writing up their service delivery processes and methodology. Document the KPIs that you work to and how you perform against these. Collate facts and figures about CV submissions, interviews and placement ratios and retain examples of management information.
This may literally save you days of work when it comes to bidding and is a great library of information to refer to when selling your services to any prospective client.
If you need more information about how to prepare your business for tendering or help with a specific bid, please contact us on 01688 400319 or email email@example.com and here’s wishing you a happy and successful 2017 from all of us at Brunton Bid Writing.