Plan the process

Like many aspects of work, getting the planning correct will help the whole process go smoother, minimising mistakes, reducing duplication of effort and making the experience more satisfying. In procurement terms, the planning process falls into the following main areas

  • Depending upon the value and the complexity of the proposed requirement, it may be appropriate to carry out an option appraisal to help explore possible solutions before deciding on the best way forward. The option appraisal could explore not only different funding options but also alternative way of actually providing the requirement.
  • Have an initial brainstorming session of how best to approach the tender exercise. It could be that this is a minimal exercise given the nature of the requirement, in other cases it may well be critical to its success.
  • Determine the appropriate competitive process based on the estimated value and, as important,  will it be managed under the EU procurement rules?
  • Determine who should be involved in the project team to manage the exercise. Again, the number of people involved will depend on the nature, value and complexity of the requirement.  For example, if it is for the replacement of the institution’s, or consortia’s, stationery contract, then input from a number of the major user departments will be useful do gain an insight into the successes and weaknesses of the current contract and to have user-support for the new one. 
  • Set up a timetable agreeing dates by which certain aspects of work will be completed, for example, the drafting of the specification.  Agree the tender closing date and date(s) for adjudication meetings and, if necessary, interviews.  Ensure that these dates are agreed and booked in the panel members’ diaries.  The interview date should be advised in the tender documentation so that any suppliers called for interview will already have the date noted in the work plans.
  • Note: For EU procurements attention should also be given to the possibility of a need to give de-briefing feedback within very tight timescales under the mandatory standstill period between the contract award decision and the conclusion of the contract.
  • Determine the supplier selection and contract award criteria including the relative weightings for the award criteria.  Consider the aspects of the submissions that you wish to assess and determine how the evaluation will be carried out at each stage.  Remember they are separate stages within the competitive process, and criteria from one cannot be used in the other, once a selection criterion has been assessed, it cannot be re-visited.  Also, don’t ask for information if you are not going to use it, this causes extra work for the tenderers and you could be open to questions about how the information requested was used in the evaluation of the tender submissions.
  • Consider whether you will consider variant bids and how these will be assessed if received. Such bids could, for example, introduce environmental dimensions to the tender submissions that would not have been immediately obvious to the project team when brainstorming the initial exercise.

A risk assessment for this stage of the procurement cycle is provided.