Tender Process Explained

The tendering process is extremely complex and can sometimes be complicated.

We have created a buyer’s guide to procurement which explains the tender process. From understanding procurement regulations to managing contracts, we cover some of the most important information around public sector procurement.

Getting started

Public procurement is in the spotlight and it has never had a higher profile, as the procurement professionals that work in this sector strive to reduce the deficit, while protecting frontline services like the NHS.

Instead of making cuts, procurement professionals have duty to make savings from well-run procurement exercises and ensure value for money for the public purse. It is also essential that these professionals have the correct skills and knowledge to complete the process compliantly while ensuring effective transparency throughout procurement exercises.

Regulations that govern public sector procurement activity set out the various procurement procedures that must take place when purchasing goods, works and services. Since 18 October 2018, by law, all public sector organisations have had to move to an electronic procurement solution. Regulation 22 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 states that communication and information exchange for above-threshold procurement must be carried out using electronic means of communication – to improve transparency and visibility throughout the supply chain.

Procurement strategy

Our procurement experts advise that you do your thinking first. The clearer you are about the tender specification, the easier it will be for your suppliers to give you the information that you need to make your decision.

Requirements change and the market moves on – what you are procuring this time may not be what you need this time. Find balance within your specification. If you are too specific and, for instance, specify brand names, you may not leave room for competition or innovation. This does not apply if you are tendering for certain parts of equipment that needs to be refreshed or updated.

Buyers should also try to leave room for suppliers to suggest value adds as the additional value section of a tender can be one of the most important. The “Added Value” section is where suppliers can promote what their business does and the extra things they can include as part of their service. For example, if you are looking for a supplier that provides equipment, consider whether they fit it for free or not.

There are also many other considerations to take into account, such as lifecycle costing. Sustainability is becoming more and more important within public sector procurement and Regulation 68 stipulates that lifecycle costing, when relevant, should cover at least part or all of the costs of maintenance, spare parts, running costs over the lifecycle of a product, service or works, together with any disposal costs.

Speaking to Delta eSourcing, Principal PASS Consultant Eddie Regan has said: “Contracts are often awarded in sections; buyers look at quick fixes, as opposed to looking at the entire lifecycle of the contract and asking: ‘what are we trying to achieve?’”

Tender management

Before you publish your contract notice, as well as deciding on the details of your specification, you need to sort out your selection questionnaire and how it will be scored. Your procurement team will need to use a tender management solution like Delta eSourcing, to evaluate questionnaire responses and identify the candidates that you want to invite to tender. You will also need to consider your award criteria and their weightings, which you will use to evaluate the tender responses, as details of these criteria need to be included in the contract notice. Once published, these criteria cannot be changed, so it is essential to take the time to get them right so as not to incur the expense of a failed tender exercise.

A contracting authority should use a tender management system at every stage of the tendering process (e.g. document creation, exchange and storage, as well as creating a full communications audit trail).

Delta tools which can help you throughout this process include:

  • Compliant eNotice Tool

Facility to create, manage and stream both above and below EU threshold contract notices, RFQs and RFIs.

  • Evaluation Tool

Create a bespoke evaluation plan for your questionnaire and conduct your evaluations online through this tool, creating a complete audit trail.

  • Tenderbox Document Exchange

Online Tenderbox facility for exchanging tender-related documents with suppliers.

The Tender Management module is a web-based service that allows buyers and suppliers to engage with each other to achieve greater efficiency in all aspects of the tender process.

Public sector organisations can use the tenderbox for document exchange, which will support your organisation’s efforts to stay compliant with Regulation 22.

Contract Manager

Once you have awarded the contract and you are working with the supplier, it is important that you have a contract management system – especially if it’s an ongoing tender.

Contract management is the process of creating, executing and analysing tenders to maximise their performance and reduce financial risk.

This may seem like a given but the process is often overlooked by public sector buyers who fail to dedicate the time and resources needed to implement proper procedures.

It is important that buyers have a proper structure in place so that they can manage the contract, maintain good supplier relationships and keep well-informed of contract updates. Using a contract management solution, you can use audited information to look back on the contract when it comes up for renewal, which can help you to develop it into something more efficient.

Delta tools which can help you throughout this process include:

Contract Register

With Delta’s Contract Register tool users can manage all contract awards. The tool is a central repository facilitating the recording, promotion and monitoring of all your organisation’s contracts and agreements.

It allows users to view, search and export contract records which they can then host on their buyer portal.

Contract Change Control

Delta’s simple and intuitive Contract Change Control module allows buyers to track all contracts within their organisation’s Contract Register. This supports buyers’ efforts to comply with PCR 2015 ‘Life-Cycle Costing’ as the module gives users full control over the cost and time implications for their contracts.

Using this module, contract authorities can also track any changes to the contract, which is excellent for the management of the whole life cost/timescale of the project.

Contract Performance

Contract Performance is an integrated module of Contract Manager which can directly link to Contract Records in the Contract Register module.

Buyers can track their contracts, score suppliers against KPIs and review contracts at set intervals. Users can create, manage/monitor and record a tailored performance monitoring plan for each contract and each supplier/contractor.

Speak to a procurement expert

Delta’s secure EU-compliant service can support your organisation throughout the tendering process. Our solution allows buyers to analyse their lifecycle costing data and develop their contracts in a way that maximises efficiencies.

For more information and to discuss your requirements, request a demo with one of our procurement experts.