PQQ Tender Writing – How to complete a PQQ – Pre-Qualification Questionnaire

20th March 2019

PQQ Tender Writing – Pre-Qualification Questionnaire

Last updated: Jan 10, 2022 @ 7:33 am

PQQ tender writing doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to know your PQQ from your ITT, and your SQ from your GIQ. Lost yet? Don’t worry! These acronyms aren’t meaningless, we promise.

So, what are all of these?

This is the original form of the questionnaire. In 2016 an updated version of the questionnaire was created (the Selection Questionnaire/SQ) in order to accommodate the requirements of the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD).

Theoretically, when the selection questionnaire was introduced it was meant to completely replace the old PQQ. However, you can still find plenty of tenders that are using the old PQQ, so it is worth ensuring you understand the requirements.

It’s important to see this as some buyers will choose the questionnaire that is simplest or easiest for their company to use, which is why most rely on the PQQ.

ITT – Invitation to Tender

An ITT is a formal document issued by a buyer which outlines the scope of the project. This invites organisations or individuals to submit a formal tender for the work.

Usually, an ITT is preceded by a PPQ, which is a great filter to determine whether the supplier is suitable for the project.

Answering the ITT differs from PQQ tender writing as it outlines how you will commit to the project delivery. It often includes quality questions. These quality questions will ask how you carry out certain processes, all relating to the project in mind.

SQ – Selection Questionnaire  

The SQ covers the same areas as the PQQ, however, in PQQ tender writing you would have been required to submit evidence (in the form of certificates or similar) for aspects such as insurance.

In an SQ, you will be given the chance to identify that you meet the requirements. You will be asked to provide the evidence at either the ITT stage or when the contract is awarded. This is called self-certification.

In some SQs, there may be a small number of quality questions at the end of the questionnaire. Although large quality questions are usually left for the ITT, depending on the tender, there may be a few shorter questions to answer here.

GIQ – General Information Questionnaire 

Regarding the difference between the GIQ and ITT, there isn’t a lot of difference! But you may on occasion see this term used.

It is simply another version of a selection questionnaire or PQQ and will be asking for the same basic company information, self-certification and possibly some quality questions.

What’s in a PQQ?

PQQ tender writing can be broken down, as they’ll often ask for set requirements.

The procurement sector can often be a tricky environment to navigate, and processes can vary from tender to tender.

PQQs cover the status of your organisation, your finances, how you manage quality, your environmental, social and health and safety policies and case studies and testimonials. This is what you can expect to find in a PQQ.

It’s quite a varied list of things you’ll need to dig out or brush up on. Buyers will expect you to be able to provide a policy if requested.

Regarding case studies and testimonials, these are the areas where you can really show off your PQQ tender writing.

The other requirements are usually set as standard, but case studies are where you can really show your experience. This is your chance to display who you’ve worked with previously and how it was a good experience.

In a nutshell, a PQQ is a document you complete to show you are both capable of delivery and compliance with specific regulations. Once you’ve passed this point, you’ll then move onto the core part of a tender process – the Invitation to Tender (ITT).

Filling out the PQQ

PQQ tender writing can actually be quite straightforward, once you’re up to date with all the terms and the process in which you must do things! You’ll find in business, that people love to follow processes and filling out a PQQ is no different.

Writing bids should be an innovative process. Make sure you’ve read the requirements over a few times to ensure you’ve really understood what’s being asked of you.

Once you’ve done this, it’s important to plan out your delivery. If you need policies creating, make sure you’ve researched which ones would be most beneficial to your business, and ensure they are dated with the relevant year!

How to be appealing

Always remember, you’re selling your business! The answers to the questions you’ll provide to shine and stand out in the crowd.

Ensure you’ve found all the questions required in the PQQ (sometimes these are embedded into text) so make sure you read it ALL.

This will also help give you a well-rounded response, as you’ll have read all the requirements set out in the document. These documents can be quite long; however, it is in your best interest to read all the information given to you.

From here, answer the questions to the best of your ability. Perhaps there could be some added value you could add that would really give your answer the edge. You should always answer the question but always intend on giving just that little bit more to impress.

You need to answer the question, with support of how you’ve displayed work similar to this. Explain how you did 1, 2 and 3 and then also delve into how you delivered X, and additionally, Y and this meant Z.

When you’ve successfully answered the question, always remember that you must proofread your answers! Always have a good thorough check through, ensuring your grammar is in check.

A handy tip is to always give your colleague a copy to read through too, as a second pair of eyes can often spot mistakes you just haven’t seen.

PQQ basics – What you need to know

PQQ is something you’ll hear most often in the tendering and procurement world.

The term can take many forms including SQ (Selection Questionnaire), Stage 1 Tender and the recently established ESPD (European Single Procurement Document).

PQQ stands for Pre-qualification questionnaire and it does exactly what it says on the tin!

This is typically the first stage of a tender process and helps the buyer filter through organisations that are more suited to deliver upon their requirements and needs, allowing a select few to be invited to tender (ITT) and making it easier to narrow down competent suppliers. It also ensures any previous convictions or misconduct is declared as per procurement regulations.

A lot of people assume that this is the easy part of the tender process. If you have all of your business affairs in order, then you’d be right! Think of it as an application form. It doesn’t necessarily win you the contract, but it’ll get you to the next stage!

The image below represents what’s featured in a typical PQQ – where you, as the supplier, would complete all relevant fields, including basic company information and registrations etc.

PQQ example
PQQ example

The PQQ is predominantly a ‘tick-box’ exercise, where you and your organisation state compliance with key legislative requirements in order to do business.

This includes compliance with the likes of:

  • Legal Compliance
  • Financial Standing
  • Insurance Cover
  • Modern Slavery
  • Equality & Diversity
  • Health & Safety Regulations
  • and Environmental Standards etc.

One of the most important aspects of a PQQ is your response regarding technical and professional capabilities. This is where you must list [usually 3] references/contract examples to show the buyer of your capabilities to undergo the required works based on your past experience (see extract below).

PQQ Response example
PQQ Response example

Most questions throughout a PQQ are quite clearly ‘pass and fail’. If you don’t commit to providing the correct insurance cover (for example) – you fail and that’s that!

However, the technical and professional capability is one of the few questions that is scored based on the quality of what is provided.

See our ‘Importance of Relevant Case Studies’ blog to make sure you are ahead of yourself when it comes to contract examples and case studies.

You’ll find PQQ information is quite repetitive and as long as you aren’t breaking the law in any way or have been found guilty of any misconduct, you’ll find you are answering the same information over and over. The more PQQs you complete, the easier they are to submit.

In 2017, the Crown Commercial Service wanted all procurement bodies/suppliers to stop using the typical PQQ and now use an SQ (Selection Questionnaire). This is nothing to worry be concerned about. The bulk of the PQQ questions still remain, with just a few tiny amendments, such as the inclusion of Modern Slavery compliance.

Also, due to the European Public Procurement Reform which kicked off in April 2016, one of the key elements to this was the introduction of the ESPD (European Single Procurement Document).  This is an online electronic form that any supplier can complete, download and submit as part of their bid for a growing number of public procurement agencies, both nationally and internationally.

In a nutshell, a PQQ is a document you complete to show you are both capable of delivery and compliance with specific regulations. Once you’ve passed this point. You’ll then move onto the core part of a tender process – the Invitation To Tender (ITT).

You could be asked about your GDPR policies

As I’m sure you’re well aware by now, May 25th sees the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR for short) which will be the new term used for the storing, processing and management of personal data. Basically, DPA and confidentiality processes have a new broader term to ensure all data is withheld in the most secure ways possible. GDPR is a vital update on what you currently do – (we are assuming that what you currently do is best practice and of course abides by current DPA law).

I know what you’re thinking ‘we always operate confidentially – what’s new?’.

What’s new are the heightened processes every organisation must undergo when handling data. With GDPR, there are more serious consequences if you are found to be using data incorrectly and with the majority of our subscribed clients on our various platforms all handling customer and/or public data in some form or another- it’s vital to understand the key points to this national legislation change and ensure this is adhered to fully.

Some of the key aspects your company must focus on is ensuring that all data is identified and assessed in line with new and specific protocols, processes are structured, data is mapped and constantly improved upon, as well as being stored electronically and in traditional filing systems.

With implementing data governance best practices, you’ll not only comply with the GDPR but you’ll now be able to create more business value with confidence and ensure success when contracting with future parties.

We have now found many public sector tenders and private tenders are increasingly asking suppliers if they are GDPR compliant via the multiple processes above. Such questions have become apparent in a recent public tender within the creative sector (for e.g.):

  • Please confirm that you are GDPR compliant (detail relevant technical & organisational security measures)?
  • Are you maintaining Data Processing Records?
  • Do your standard contract terms include the new GDPR mandatory provisions?
  • Do you have a documented Breach Notification Process? Etc.

To maximise your scores, you would need to answer more than a simple YES!

Please see ICO’s brochure which provides further helpful information on preparing for and applying GDPR principles in your organisation[s].

We encourage all clients to take this information provided and use it to ensure any future tendering efforts aren’t spread thin merely by the lack of compliance against GDPR. Going forward, it is becoming quite clear that GDPR may soon become part of the normal questions asked in PQQs and ITTs.

Hudson Succeed is dedicated to you!

Need further support with your PQQs? Get in touch now with our Hudson Succeed team here!

We can help you through the process of PPQ tender writing with ease.

We have a fully dedicated team of bid professionals waiting to engage with new clients and get started writing new bids.

If you’re too busy to think about the PPQ tender writing process but want to ensure tendering is a route your business ventures down, then we can remove the worry and stress.

Tender Writing

PPQ tender writing can be tough, which is one of the reasons our Tender Writing service can be of help to your business.

Our Tender Writing service is for businesses who either:

  • Don’t know how to tender
  • Don’t have any writing capabilities in house
  • Need support to cover sick leave or maternity cover.

This service is priced per bid, meaning we can provide a full breakdown.  You’ll know exactly how long it will take and what information you’ll need to provide us with.

With us, you’ll always see an initial and final draft. We maintain an 87% success rate with winning bids for clients, so we’re a perfect choice for your PPQ tender writing services.

What else can we offer you?

We have many services dedicated to providing exactly what you need for your business. Our services are tailored to business development, ensuring your tender needs are assessed and met no matter where you are. and

For further support, take a look at our services to learn more about how our Bid Writers can support your tendering for contracts.

Alternatively, visit Tender VLE and learn more and the tendering process.

Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:

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