Procurement and tendering can be complex and time consuming at the best of times, but during times of a national crisis, it may seem like running an effective tender process is close to impossible. Fear not, Tenet have developed a step by step guide to provide the sector with hints and tips that ensure compliancy and that an effective tendering process can be completed.
Current Contract / Provision
- Extending your current contract – Discuss with your current supplier the potential to extend the contract beyond its current term. Our recommendation is not to agree a new contract end date as of yet but check that this would be a viable option should the tender process need to be delayed. Your current supplier will appreciate the advanced warning so that they can make the necessary arrangements
- Preparing the inhouse team – If your service is currently delivered inhouse, ensure your onsite team including HR are all prepared for the scenario that the inhouse service will need to be continued to be delivered indefinitely and that all preparations are made to ensure the service can continue seamlessly until the new Contract is in place
Supplier Site Visits
Supplier site visits are extremely useful when you are tendering for services as it allows the potential supplier to view relevant areas of your building. If your organisation has adopted a work from home policy or is restricting access to your buildings a supplier site visit is not going to be possible. To assist with suppliers submitting bids and site visits being unable to take place, Tenet would recommend considering the following options:
- Photographs – Insert photos of the applicable areas into the tender document to provide suppliers with visual content of the areas covered by the service contract
- Videos – A video of the applicable area(s) could be provided to provide a virtual tour of the site or the main areas covered by the service contract
- Conference call question and answer session – Rather than a site visit consider offering a telephone or video conference call so suppliers can hear your requirements and ask clarification questions on the content of the tender doc. Tenet would recommend inviting all suppliers onto the same conference call to ensure all suppliers hear the same information and are given the same opportunity to ask any questions. Tenet would also recommend minuting the call and circulating the notes circulated via your e-tendering portal to ensure transparency and to provide an audit trail
Supplier site visits and an effective tender pack should always include the following pieces of information whether tendering for goods or services. Site plans, square meterage details and TUPE are integral if applicable to the procurement exercise, but for some projects these will not be required so an accurate specification and contract terms are key.
- Specification – Based on the site’s requirements under the new contract
- Site plans (if applicable) – Provide all detailed site plans that you possess so suppliers can fully understand the layout of the site
- Square meterage details (if applicable) – Provide as much accurate detail on the square meterage of your site as possible. This is exceptionally important when tendering for cleaning contracts
- TUPE (if applicable) – Accurate TUPE details are integral to allowing the interested suppliers to understand your current staffing structures, staff numbers, staff terms and conditions etc. If you cannot delay your tender process, then suppliers could always submit their proposals based on TUPE data. Bids based on TUPE would be limited in achieving economies of scale but if you have no other option then this would be a key piece of information to allow suppliers to submit
- Contract terms – All tender packs should include the terms and conditions, so all stakeholders are fully aware of the contractual requirements throughout the life of the contract. This is important in today’s current climate with contractual concerns amongst all parties
If you have presentations as part of your assessment criteria, then this provides added complications regarding human contact etc and we would recommend the following to ensure compliancy:
- Bids not yet received – Assessment criteria amended – If you are yet to receive bids and the deadline date has not yet passed then you have the potential opportunity to amend the presentation questions you have specified within the assessment criteria to require a written response. These criteria would then be evaluated along with the rest of the submission. We recommend contacting all suppliers involved to ensure they accept this change of the assessment criteria to ensure compliancy. We fully expect suppliers to prefer this method of submission so that they do not need to attend site and put themselves or any of the stakeholders at risk.
- Bids not yet received – Video conference presentations – If all stakeholders had the facility to conduct video conference presentations then the supplier could conduct their presentation against the agreed assessment criteria via this method. We would recommend only the key stakeholders involved in this option as to limit the concerns regarding IT and any delays experience with the technology.
- Bids already received – Suppliers resubmit presentation criteria as written responses – You could message all suppliers and request that due to current circumstances, you now require written submissions in place of the presentation criteria and provide them with adequate time to provide a response. This would then be evaluated as part of the written responses meaning you can fulfil the full 100% of the criteria and award to the highest scoring supplier.
- Bids already received – Award without conducting presentations – If you have presentations specified within your assessment criteria, your deadline date has passed and the bids have been opened then it is imperative that you are transparent with your suppliers to ensure compliancy. You could award without conducting the presentations and inform suppliers via your e-tendering portal that this is what you intend to do. The weighting for the presentations within the assessment criteria would then be removed and only the written responses would be evaluated. For example, if you had the weightings at written responses 80% and presentations at 20% then you would only assess the responses against the 80% and award to the highest scoring supplier out of the 80%.
- Ensure that all communication is via the compliant channels i.e. e-tendering portal
- Ensure you keep all suppliers informed at all key stages of the decision-making process
- Ensure you provide suppliers with regular updates
New Procurement Policy Note
If you have an urgent requirement for goods, services or works due to COVID-19, and you need to procure this under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 (PCRs), there are various options available. These include:
- direct award due to extreme urgency;
- direct award due to absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights;
- call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system;
- call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales;
- extending or modifying a contract during its term.
Please see Procurement Policy Note 01/20: Responding to COVID-19 for further information regarding this new policy.
Tenet hope that the above information provides some solutions in this testing time to help you conduct an effective, compliant tendering process. If you need support or wanted to discuss any of the points raised, then please get in contact with a member of the team, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 01376 511 411