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The procurement sector is often an obscure place to navigate, with conflicting processes that can vary from tender to tender.
They are much more common in public sector procurement, but they can be used to check supplier suitability within private sector tendering too.
The pre-qualification (or selection) stage serves to determine who meets the suitability criteria and can be considered for the tender stage.
This will always, regardless of the type of questionnaire, include basic information about your company and, if applicable, parent companies and/or subcontractors you would be planning to use.
If you pass the pre-qualification/selection stage, then you will be ‘Invited to Tender’ (ITT).
There are three types of ‘pre-qualification’ or ‘selection’ that you can confidently expect to encounter during the bid process.
As mentioned above, this was introduced by the CCS (Crown Commercial Service) in 2016 with the intention of completely replacing the PQQ.
There are only a few differences between the updated SQ and the older PQQ, namely that the exclusion grounds in the modernised selection questionnaire correlate to those in the latest version of Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and in the ESPD.
This also correlates with exclusion concerning the Modern Slavery Act 2015, where appropriate.
The SQ covers the same areas as the PQQ, but whereas in a PQQ 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 ‘self-certify’ that you meet the requirements.
You will be asked to provide the evidence at either the ITT stage or in lieu of the contract award.
Commonly in SQs, there will be a small number of quality questions at the end of the questionnaire.
It is uncommon for SQs to have a substantial quality response element, but it is dependent on the individual contracting authority and the size of the tender.
Large tenders with multiple Lots may have a large SQ with multiple quality questions before the ITT.
This is the old 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), which is detailed below.
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.
For more information regarding PQQs, please see Tender VLE.
There is no official legislation detailing what a GIQ is and how it differs, 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.
Irrespective of what the questionnaire is called, it is important to remember that this is not simply a ‘copy and paste’ or ‘tick the box’ exercise.
A lot of the information you will be inputting is basic, and of course, there is an element of the YES/NO box selection, but do not fall into the trap of assuming all questionnaires are the same.
Variations may be slight, but if you do not read each of the questions carefully you could find yourself failing the qualification stage over something small and entirely avoidable.
So whether you are faced with a PQQ, SQ, GIQ or some other obscure acronym, remember that you will always need to provide extensive information about your company structure, financial standing, compliance with health and safety, environmental and social policies and evidence of your previous experience in the form of contract examples.
If you take the time to read carefully through the questionnaire before attempting to complete it, you will find they are more intuitive than the conflicting terminology would indicate.
For more information around bid management and the tendering process in general contact our Tender Consultants team. Our Bid Writers can help you when tendering for contracts and advise you on writing winning bids.
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