10 steps your school needs to take before you consider tendering?
Needs Assessment: The school should conduct a thorough needs assessment to identify the specific goods or services they require. This could include anything from Catering, Cleaning, ICT and Print/Copy projects to purchasing equipment, technology, or educational resources such as stationery.
Budgeting: The school business manager or equivalent memeber of staff should establish a budget for the procurement process. This involves determining the available funds and allocating them appropriately based on the priorities and needs identified in the needs assessment. It is important to note that the cheapest price possible often does not provide the best type of quality your school is seeking to procure, therefore getting the balanace right is vital.
Define Requirements: The school needs to clearly define the requirements and specifications for the goods or services they seek. This includes detailing the desired features, quantities, quality standards, delivery timelines, and any other relevant criteria. The requirements should be documented in a clear and concise manner. A procurement consultant can support you with defining the main areas of the Specification.
Research Suppliers: Schools should research potential suppliers or contractors who can provide the required goods or services. This can involve seeking recommendations, conducting online research, or reaching out to industry associations or networks for information on reputable vendors. A procurement consultant would often have access to an online E-Sender portal that is approved and designed to provide a pool of potential suppliers.
Prequalification: Some schools may choose to prequalify suppliers before initiating the tendering process. This step involves evaluating potential suppliers based on criteria such as financial stability, past experience, technical capabilities, and compliance with relevant regulations. Prequalification helps ensure that only qualified vendors are invited to participate in the tender process.
Tender Preparation: The school prepares the tender documents, which typically include the invitation to tender (ITT), instructions to bidders, terms and conditions, evaluation criteria, and any other relevant information. The tender documents should provide clear guidelines for suppliers to submit their proposals. An experienced procurement consultant can support with the development of all these documents that are vital when tendering, using a consultant will help you save time and ensure your tender pack is compliant to public sector regulations.
Publish and Advertise: The school publishes the tender notice and advertises it to attract potential bidders. This can be done through a public compliant procurement portal, or specialized platforms known as E-Sender Portals. It is best to use an approved platform as your tender must be published on the Gov.uk site along with an official contract notice finder ID.
Bid Evaluation: Once the bid submission deadline has passed, the school establishes an evaluation committee or panel to review the submitted bids. The evaluation criteria should be clearly defined in the tender documents, and the committee assesses the bids based on these criteria. We advised that your school has this evaluation panel in mind from the beginning of the tender process so that you can save time and know who will be scoring in order to maintain consistency.
Bidder Selection: After evaluating the bids, the school selects the most suitable bidder or contractors based on their compliance with the requirements and their overall proposal. The selection process should be fair, transparent, and in compliance with any applicable procurement laws or policies. The bidder with the highest score should be the most preferred as they have demonstrated best value and that due-diligence has been done to the highest ability.
Contract Negotiation: Once a bidder or contractor is selected, the school enters into contract negotiations with them. The contract should clearly outline the terms and conditions, pricing, deliverables, timelines, and any other relevant details. A well trained procurement consultant can help with this stage.
It's important to note that the tendering process can vary depending on the estimated budget or existing contact value. Schools should consult their specific procurement guidelines, procurement consultant and seek legal advice if needed to ensure compliance with applicable regulation are met.
Here at Procurement for Schools we always support our schools with all of the above ahead of tendering so that our clients are made aware of the process and how we will work together to acheive their goals.
Article written by Mike Newell
Mike Newell is the Managing Director and lead consultant at Procurement for Schools, Mike has a range of public sector expertise and has served as an Exec at the London Borough of Hillingdon Council where he made a major contribution. Mike now supports schools with his public sector knowledge and is devoted to giving back and to making a real difference.