A Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) is often the first stage in the public sector procurement process. Companies will usually need to pass both the PQQ and Tender stages to win the contract.
The prevalence of PQQs has increased significantly over the past few years, and now forms part of the accepted contract tendering process. Councils often receive in excess of 100 submissions for every contract, so they will scrutinise each in great detail and will reject non-compliant submissions immediately. You need to stand out from your competitors and demonstrate to the contracting authorities that you have the minimum level of competency to pass firstly the PQQ stage, and then the tender stage of the process, in order to ultimately deliver the contract.
It’s imperative to plan your submission before you start to write your PQQ. Develop your plan well ahead of the deadline and leave plenty of time to get your submission up to the required standard. A pre-qualification checklist is a good place to start to plan out all tasks that are required for your PQQ.
A member of staff should be appointed to lead the process, who can then delegate responsibility for the preparation of various aspects of the questionnaire and oversee the checklist. This helps coordinate the project, leading to a more integrated submission.
You should plan to submit your bid in good time to the relevant authority, so that any overruns can be absorbed. Evaluators are experienced professionals and will know if the proposal has been rushed, so plan to leave time for a review of your answers before you submit it.
Manage the project using a pre-qualification checklist
It’s not enough to plan the completion of the PQQ. Companies need to proactively manage the process to keep it on track. A pre-qualification checklist of tasks provides a simple record of your progress, with tasks marked off as they are completed.
Keeping a checklist reduces the probability that you will miss questions out and have to write rushed responses at the last minute. Bear in mind that submissions are sometimes very complex and difficult-to-manage documents, and that information can be missed.
If you employ a team, you will need to coordinate them closely to ensure that every single piece of work is completed before the submission date. Having even a single document missing can ruin a proposal, so tracking progress is vital.
Once you are confident you have completed your responses and brought all the relevant material together, engage in a review of the PQQ before submission. This includes all the policies you intend to submit, as well as the narrative responses prepared in response to specific questions.
All policies requested should be submitted, or thorough explanations provided for their absence. Policies should have undergone review and be current before they are provided as evidence in a PQQ. Accounts will usually have to be supplied, so make sure they comply with the specifications laid out in the contract. If no policies are requested, the authority might ask you to self-certify that you meet all requirements – which is very common.
Narrative responses should be reviewed to ensure they meet the requirements of the questions and that they emphasise your businesses capabilities. Get a person from outside the process to evaluate your answers to provide a neutral opinion on your responses. This can be done in house, or by employing outside bid writing professionals who offer these services, such as Executive Compass.
The whole review process will avoid inappropriate responses from slipping through the net and diminishing your chances of success.
The submission of your PQQ isn’t the end of the process. Regardless of whether you progress or fail, these documents provide a great learning opportunity.
If you were not successful, you can overhaul any areas of your organisation that were judged to be non-compliant. You can also learn from your other answers and tweak your responses for use in future submissions
If you have been successful, your PQQ submission will provide a good basis to move forward towards the full tender stage. Nevertheless, don’t be too reliant on the work put into the document. The tender will ask different questions and pose different challenges.
This advice should, we hope, have given you an insight into how to complete a PQQ. Executive Compass have completed thousands of PQQ submissions and have an >80% win rate across all sectors.
If you are in need of further advice or assistance, call us today on 020 3507 0314.