Pre-Qualification Meeting business analysis

2 June 2020

In my first post I gave an overview of the tendering process. In this article I take a more in-depth look at the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, also referred to as PQQ or Pre-Qual.

If you are new to tendering, you may not be familiar with the concept of the PQQ. It is a document that gives the customer information about you or your organisation to enable them to decide whether to invite you to bid for a project as a service provider. It won’t secure you a project, but it lets your potential customer know you have the skills and resources within your company to provide the service they are looking for.

A PQQ is not a standardized document. This means that because each service differs between tenders, the PQQ will vary from one tender bid to another. That said, all questions should have a sound purpose, and help to make an impartial assessment of supplier suitability.

The questions will almost certainly contain the following:

  • Type of Company/Company Name
  • VAT number
  • Name of contact for the project
  • Registered addresses and contact details
  • Industry qualifications or systems in place
  • Experience skills and resources at a high level
  • Health & safety measures, equal opportunities, administrative processes, and any other policies

You will also need to provide information about your organisations financial status and stability, and a high-level outline of your experience as an organisation when it comes to delivering projects.

The PQQ is your opportunity to showcase your company and highlight what it can do. It is essential to give it the attention it deserves if you want to reach the shortlist.

Knowing Your Competitors

Understanding your industry competitors gives you an invaluable insight and knowledge of where to position your organisation within the field. It is essential to make yourself aware of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses prior to making any bid. If this all sounds a little too James Bond, the truth is, that without analysing your competitors, you may set yourself up for a fall and not giving your business the chance it deserves.

Potential Benefits of Analysis:

  • Actively considering your competitors strengths and weaknesses and comparing them with your own allows you to adjust your bid accordingly
  • Allows you to set out your strategy
  • Identifies any gaps within your bid which may require attention
  • Enables you to think objectively about your own organisation

It is unacceptable to refer directly to a competing business within your own bid. Although, you can detail why your organisation offers enhanced services or offers a more competitive pricing structure. And a sound understanding of who you will bid alongside will enable you to deliver a strong, focused bid.

Tender Opportunities

If you are a small enterprise, you may believe the odds of entering a successful bid are stacked against you, however sixty percent of local authority contracts are awarded to small and medium-sized business. Sixteen percent of all businesses that have won EU contracts comprise ten or fewer employees.

The following links will help you locate and bid for viable public sector opportunities.

This is a government-backed site with access to lower-value contracts. Typically, under £100,000. You can also set up tender alerts.

Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU)

Almost all public sector contracts worth more than the value set in the EU procurement directives can be found on this site. It invites suppliers to express an interest, or to tender directly, depending on the contract procedure.

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

SBRI is designed to encourage and increase demand for research and development from small businesses. Government departments have been instructed to buy in at least 2.5% of their research and development requirements from smaller businesses.

Common Mistakes in Bid Writing

It is natural for an inexperienced bid writer to develop material to simply answer the questions within the PQQ. When you do this, you are enabling the customer’s own structure to determine how your responses are organised. Experienced and outstanding bid writers tailor their responses and include information whether or not it has been solicited.

Failing to communicate key facts about your company, such as, awards won, accolades, or even what you do differently from others, will not give the customer the full picture, neither will it allow them to get to know you, or decide whether or not you are a good ‘fit’.

Do not gloss over your pricing strategy and proposed costs if you are not feeling confident about them. It’s very tempting to sell your proposal prior to pricing, thinking the customer will be more inclined to accept your bid. The bid evaluator is more likely to go straight to the pricing part of the document regardless of how well you’ve tried to bury it amid a myriad of features and benefits.

Avoid ‘fluff’ around an answer and get straight to the point. Bid evaluators have many bids to read and if you’ve padded out your proposal with superfluous material, they will simply move on to the next. Get to the point quickly and make it clearly.

As the old saying goes, ‘Brevity is the essence of wisdom’.