When answering questions on quality in a tender, it is easy to list what quality assurance measures you have without addressing what the question is asking. Often evaluators want to know how your approach ensures quality and high-quality services, or they may focus on how through quality management you can provide added value, efficiencies, or cost-saving initiatives such as using higher quality materials with longer life spans, reducing costs associated with replacing them. It is therefore imperative that you do not try to impose a ‘one-size-fits-all’ response onto quality questions where the approach or focus is not generic.
What do evaluators typically ask and look for?
For each quality question in a tender, the buying authority will often have an underlying reason for asking the question. It is therefore important to stop and think what benefit or assurances is the buyer looking for.
Questions will be tailored to provide the authority with an understanding of how the quality of different aspects of service delivery are maintained, and the added value which will then be passed on to the authority.
‘Please detail how you manage the quality of services, workmanship and materials for your service area’
If you were an evaluator, you would be looking for information on how the bidder organisation manages the quality of services, quality of workmanship and materials which will be used during service delivery. However, a high-quality and competitive bidder will think beyond this surface-level understanding of the question: why would the evaluator be looking for this information? How will it impact on reliability and long-term value for money throughout service delivery?
Quality of services: For the quality of services, holding key certifications evidence that your company’s quality management system has been tested and meets certifying bodies’ requirements, including those accredited by United Kingdom Accreditation Service’s (UKAS) quality standards for certifications such as ISO 9001. The ISO 9001 Quality Management Certification is one of the most trusted and widely recognised means of demonstrating that your organisation implements clear, consistent processes to maintain a quality service for your customers.
Quality of workmanship: When evaluators ask about the quality of workmanship, they want to know what processes you have in place to ensure all work completed by operatives is done to a high standard. This might seem obvious – but remember that this might include the processes you implement before contract commencement, such as how you recruit suitably qualified individuals with experience in completing similar work to a high standard. Evaluators also want to know, if subcontractors are used, what processes you have in place to verify that they will complete work to the same standard as your directly employed operatives. Do you provide any training to operatives/subcontractors as part of the contract onboarding process; if so, how can this training be used to benefit the service you are delivering? For example, will you provide asbestos awareness training so that operatives can work safely in buildings which may host asbestos-containing materials?
Material Quality: Poor material quality often results in costly remedial works to be completed at a later date. The authority therefore wants to see how you will ensure materials are used to provide the best quality/value offering. Often, the authority wants assurance that any unexpected changes to material availability will not negatively impact the quality of materials used. It can therefore be a good idea to suggest that, during mobilisation, the individual in charge of materials (e.g. the technical manager) will liaise with the authority to identify alternative materials of a similar quality/price. By establishing contingency measures, you can demonstrate to the authority that in the event of any issues service delivery will continue without disruptions to quality.
Overall quality assurance process: The authority wants to know how you will monitor the above aspects as part of your quality management system. This might be achieved through a series of inspections, such as inspections of materials on delivery/arrival to the site as well as internal and external audits, demonstrating to the authority a proactive approach to monitoring, in turn enabling you to identify and address any issues in quality early, before your ability to meet project milestones or KPIs is impacted. External audits completed by a third party provide an impartial record of quality processes within your organisation and can be used to evidence how you have maintained a high quality of service.
The importance of providing evidence and case studies
Case studies provide the authority with examples where you have successfully delivered the same measures included within your response as part of comparable projects, contracts or frameworks. By using examples of similar contracts, you can evidence how you have previously managed quality and addressed and resolved any issues arising during service delivery. Alongside qualitative case studies, bidders might also consider including quantitative evidence, such as facts and figures derived from KPI monitoring, to demonstrate their successes, capability and positive track record.
Quality-based questions demonstrate to the authority that you have the appropriate policies and procedures in place to maintain a high level of quality, reducing the risk of them incurring additional costs further down the line. For information on how we can support you to effectively answer quality-based questions, contact us at email@example.com.
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