- How to become a Supplier
- The Quotation process explained
- The Tender process explained
- How to respond to a tender opportunity
- Understanding the Procurement Documents
- Understanding our Procurement function
1. How to become a Supplier
Any potential suppliers looking to sell goods, works or services to Rutland County Council will need to go through a formal procurement process and submit either a quotation or a tender. Contracts are awarded as the outcome of a fair, transparent and compliant public procurement process undertaken by us or by one of our partner organisations as part of the LLR partnership (Leicester City Council and/or Leicestershire County Council).
We are committed to being fair, open, transparent and non-discriminatory in the way we carry out the procurement process and in the way that we deal with our suppliers, and we expect our suppliers to act in the same way. We try to ensure that our procurement processes are proportionate to the value and complexity of what we are buying, so we will not impose requirements on potential bidders which are unnecessary.
Our procurement processes are heavily regulated to ensure that we spend public money wisely and ensure value for money. The way we advertise and the procurement process that we follow is determined by the estimated total contract value, so if the contract is valued:
- Below £5,000 per annum: Contracts may be placed by direct negotiation with one or more supplier using a Council Purchasing Card (P-Card); or
- Between £5,000 per annum and £49,999 per annum: we shall request Quotations directly from potential suppliers; or
- Above £50,000 per annum: this is our Tender threshold, where tender opportunities are advertised and a formal tender process is followed, using the East Mids Tenders e-tendering 'portal'.
We do not operate an approved supplier list, as this is not permitted within the Procurement Contract Regulations 2015.
For contracts valued above £50,000 per annum, contract opportunities to become a supplier are advertised as part of an open and transparent tender process. The information set out below aims to guide you through public procurement processes and provide useful support information.
2. The Quotation process explained
Contract opportunities valued between £5,000 per annum and £24,999 per annum require at least one written quotation, using a ‘request for quotation’ template which contains all of the information that a potential supplier will need in order to provide an accurate quotation. These opportunities are not usually advertised, we approach potential supplier(s) directly. Quotations for this value are returned via email to a specified email address, by the stated closing date and time.
Contract opportunities valued between £25,000 per annum and £49,999 per annum require at least three (3) written quotations, using a ‘request for quotation’ template. Quotations for this value are to be returned in hard copy to the specified address, by the stated closing date and time; unless the responsible Officer choose to receive quotes via the Electronic Tendering portal. Note - Quotations at this value received by electronic means (email or fax) will be rejected.
3. The Tender process explained
When new contract requirements are identified, or when an existing contract arrangement needs renewing, we must follow a formal tendering process to ensure compliance with UK procurement regulations and our own Contract Procedure Rules, for Contract opportunities valued £50,000 per annum or above. It is only by responding to a contract notice published on Contracts Finder, East Midlands Tenders or Find a Tender that you can tender.
Any company can express an interest, provided that you meet the stated evaluation criteria for the procurement. Full details of how to register your interest in a particular tender opportunity will be contained in the contract notice being published.
If you are interested in become a public sector supplier, it is a good idea that you familiarise yourself with the public procurement regulations (Public Contracts Regulations 2015) which govern public sector procurement and the procurement processes that we must follow.
Contract opportunities valued above £50,000 per annum will be run through the e-tendering 'portal' East Mins Tenders (www.eastmidtenders.org) ; therefore, in order to participate in the tender process you must first be register on the East Mids Tenders website.
If you have any difficulty registering or logging in, the portal has its own helpdesk service to assist you, which is run by Proactis (previously Due North) who operate the website and portal. Email: ProContractSuppliers@proactis.com for all ProContract support issues, to log a support ticket.
On logging a ticket, if you have not logged one before, you will be issued with a registration email that will give you instructions to allow you to log in, review and update your own tickets.
As part of the supplier registration form, you can register your interest in specific spend areas using CPV (common procurement vocabulary) category codes for various goods, works or services. This will allow you to receive notifications about opportunities that you are interested in as they arise.
Once you have identified an opportunity that you wish to tender for, you must register your expression of interest in order to access the procurement documentation. Once the tender opportunity opens, you must submit all of the required procurement documentation and supporting information, via the website portal East Mids Tenders before the closing date and time specified in the contracts notice.
All tender submissions will then be evaluated against the evaluation criteria outlined in the procurement document. All tenderers will be notified of the contract award outcome simultaneously.
Public procurement procedures are open and transparent, and provide opportunity for suppliers of all size, whether a local SME, a Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise or larger national/European organisation, to bid for contracts. When contracts are re-tendered, existing suppliers have to re-apply and compete alongside other potential suppliers, thereby ensuring a level playing field for all.
4. How to respond to a Tender Opportunity
When using the e-tendering portal East Mids Tenders, tenderers shall be fully responsible for ensuring that any procurement documentation that they have been asked to upload via the e-tendering system is fully uploaded prior to the closing date and time specified in the procurement documentation or contract notice. Any procurement documentation that is not correctly uploaded onto the system or is uploaded after the closing date and time has expired, will be deemed non-compliant and will be rejected.
5. Understanding the Procurement Documents
When participating in a procurement process (either quotation or tender), you will be issued with various procurement documents. It is really important that you read those documents thoroughly, taking special notice of:
- The Specification: this will describe in detail what we are buying. The information provided should give you enough information to determine whether or not you will be able to supply what we need.
- The instructions: this provides important information, such as the deadline for submission of bids, how to respond and how we will evaluate your bid. Taking account of the evaluation criteria and specific weightings (that is, the relative importance of each criteria), will help you determine where you should concentrate your effort when responding.
- The Terms and Conditions: you will normally be required to enter into a contract based on our standard contract terms and conditions which will be issued to you with the procurement documents, although some contracts will use specialist or industry specific Terms and Conditions (as relevant). Make sure that you have read the terms and conditions thoroughly and understand the risks and benefits.
- The response document: you will be asked to respond in a particular way e.g. by answering a series of questions and providing a price for the goods, works or services required. Failing to respond in the required way may mean you are excluded (non-compliant bid) or it may mean that we struggle to find the information we need to properly evaluate your bid.
When bidding for a requirement valued at or above £50,000 per annum you will be expected to complete either a Suitability Questionnaire (below UK Procurement Thresholds) or a Standard Selection Questionnaire (above UK Procurement Thresholds). The questionnaire comprises a set of questions we have to ask in order to assure ourselves that your company is suitable to provide our contract requirements in a compliant manner.
Set out below are tips to assist you during the Tendering process:
- Register on the relevant procurement portals as described above.
- If we invite you to participate in market testing, please spare the time to do so. This process is about listening to suppliers so we can ensure what we are buying is fit for purpose. It’s also a really good way of getting to know us as a potential customer!
- Read all the procurement documents thoroughly and if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to seek clarification. We will answer any questions you might have and our responses might help you submit a better bid.
- Ensure you understand how we are going to evaluate your response, by taking account of the evaluation criteria and weightings. This will help you allocate your time and effort to the most important parts of the bid.
- Don’t underestimate the time it takes to submit a quotation or tender, and plan your resources early.
- Make sure that you respond in the way you have been ‘instructed’ to and by the specified closing date and time. We will not be able to accept your bid response if it is late or submitted incorrectly.
- Remember that we cannot negotiate with you, we aren’t allowed to. So make sure the price you submit is your best possible price and is deliverable. Provide the price in the format requested – remember, we ask for price in a specific format so we can compare all the bid responses we receive fairly and on a like-for-like basis.
Always be honest in your response. Remember that your quotation or tender will form part of the final contract and so we will hold you accountable for the promises you have made in your bid response.
Our in-house Commissioning Team support procurement activity within the People Directorate; whilst Welland Procurement support the procurement function for the Resources and Places Directorates, as well any tender opportunities values above the UK Procurement Thresholds. List below is an overview of the type of service delivery provided across each of the three Directorates:
- People – covers Adult and Childrens Social Care, Public Health
- Resources – covers internal support functions i.e. HR, IT, Finance, Legal
- Places – covers external service delivery cross Planning, Property services, Waste, Highways and Transport.
The Commissioning Team and Welland Procurement provide resources and guidance to both colleagues and suppliers to ensure the procurement function is handled efficiently, effectively and in an open transparent manner.
If you have any questions about an existing contract opportunity or how to sell goods, works or services to us, please contact a member of our Commissioning Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and provide details of your enquiry.