A public sector pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) is the most common form of proposal when it comes to bid writing.
This is the standard ‘first stage’ of contract bidding and is designed specifically to exclude as many companies as possible, narrowing down the competition.
Doing well in the PQQ completion gives your company the best chance of success at the tender stage, and in turn, the best chance of winning the contract. So, what is a PQQ? It is a questionnaire with a combination of information gathering/box ticking questions, along with narrative responses.
Its purpose is to determine whether your company is eligible to bid for a specific contract. The questionnaire aims to gather information regarding turnover, past experience, company size and many other factors. All of which are used to either include or exclude your business.
Understanding the contract
Before answering a single question you must be 100% sure that your company is compliant with the contract. Understanding what is required is very important as non-compliance resulting in failure is a waste of both time and resources.
The specification is there to help you respond to the questions as well as ensuring you are fully compliant. This could be anything from a minimum turnover, number of years trading, to previous contract experience and compulsory accreditations.
Should you be non-compliant for any reason, do not bid as it will be a complete waste.
More than ‘ticking boxes’
Many people underestimate the PQQ and see it as a simple ‘tick box’ exercise. However, this will usually end in failure. The document must be treated with the same respect as you would treat the tender, after all if you do not pass here you have no chance of passing the tender!
Gaining the highest amount of marks will also be recognised by the contracting authority and give you a possible advantage over the competition entering the final stage.
All in the narrative
The area to score the most marks and gain an advantage is the narrative responses. This is where many companies fall down.
These responses are where your company has the chance to demonstrate why you should be awarded the contract. Emphasise any past experience along with examples of how you can add value to the contract should it be awarded to you.
A strong narrative response leads onto the tender and is something which can be referred back to in order to gain extra marks in the final stage.
Feedback and approaching the tender
Following submission and receiving the verdict from the contracting authority, if you were lucky enough to be invited to tender, now is the time to look at your feedback. See which areas you did well in and work to emphasise these at the tender stage.
If you only just passed then be very aware that your chances of success are very small, and a lot of work is required to turn it around.