Prior to award and following the official tender window, post-clarification questions offer an opportunity for purchasing authorities to seek further understanding of your working processes, specific procedures and staff qualifications.
Bidders are encouraged to submit clarifications around any uncertainties within the tender documents or when drafting responses. This can include multiple submissions for different lots of the same contract, conflicting information within the tender documents and explanations around pricing models. A typical final date for raising any clarifications is around a week prior to the tender submission deadline – the official date can be found within the invitation to tender document, listed alongside the final deadline, standstill period and expected award date.
Equally, when the deadline has passed and evaluators have begun assessing and marking tender submissions, purchasing authorities are required to undertake due diligence on organisations to ensure they can successfully deliver the contract. This can include:
- Whether details of previous experience and past works are legitimate and verifiable, which can be resolved by the bidder organisation producing contract information or contacting references.
- Any abnormally low pricing submissions, or similar tenders with a large discrepancy in pricing, which potentially suggests collusion.
- Further information which may prove the difference between two tenders of a similar quality.
In addition to a list of quality questions, post-tender clarifications can also appear in the form of meetings, where the purchasing authority’s representatives are present to ask questions in a live environment, or via a presentation to demonstrate your proposed solutions in a different format. Here are just a few examples of post-tender clarification questions we have received.
Referring to the period between contract award and the commencement of service delivery, mobilisation is a critical period for purchasing authorities and suppliers alike and must be given careful and considered planning. Authorities will be interested in understanding how you will facilitate a seamless transition from the previous supplier and integrate any systems for their representatives and customers.
Clarifications could be centred around how you intend to address any training through conducting a skills gap analysis, secure contract-specific parts and materials from your supply chain prior to commencement of service delivery and attend pre-start meetings to clarify any other commitments, such as social value initiatives.
An indispensable element of the tendering process, evaluators will almost always request information on the size and qualifications of your allocated labour force in addition to the proposed delivery model of how you intend to resource the contract. As stated in the previous section, even if you have submitted a strong response, evaluators may require more information before making a final decision on the contract award. This could include information on:
- Contract-specific continuity measures should the proposed delivery team change over the course of the contract, including deputisation, succession strategies and knowledge circulation.
- Precise location of the contract-specific operational base or service depot, complete with a description of what materials and resources will be held on site.
- More detailed CVs of the specific staff allocated to the contract, inclusive of any qualification or previous experience delivering similar works.
Proposals for resourcing should always include the most suitably qualified candidates, with substantial and relevant experience in delivering similar works and services.
Although a strong tender will include a detailed account of all qualifications held by contract-specific staff, purchasing authorities may decide they require further information on your organisational approaches to training. This can consist of the frequency with which training is refreshed, in addition to:
- Who is responsible for the delivery of the training, the length of each course and their applicability to contract requirements.
- How refresher training can be tailored to include contract- or buyer-specific elements, such as customer care procedures or on-site health and safety.
- Methodology for delivering ad hoc training, such as toolbox talks, and what content is typically covered.
Robust systems should also be in place for tracking all training employees receive, allowing additional or refresher training to be scheduled in advance, minimising disruption to service delivery.
Meeting KPI requirements
If you have reached the post-tender clarification stage, your proposals for meeting the purchasing authority’s KPIs will be strong and sufficient – however, further detail may be required for evaluators to feel confident in issuing a final decision. This can include details on how delivery will remain consistent throughout your organisational staffing changes including management turnover, how your job management system will record compliance and issue KPI reports, and proposed frequency and content of reports to the buyer’s representatives.
Occasionally, contracts will include a condition for suppliers to comply with the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, commonly known as TUPE, where previous employees are transferred to the payroll of the incoming supplier. Topics for post-clarification questions may include the following:
- Providing precise information on the number of employees that will qualify for TUPE, and requesting updated proposals and actions plans for how they will be contacted and supported throughout the mobilisation process.
- How employees under previous contracts will be integrated into workstreams (e.g. working with directly employed staff).
- Details of your internal or external HR solutions and channels/platforms for TUPE-eligible employees to contact HR should they experience an issue.
Observing the requirements of TUPE is critical, as failure to comply could result in serious legal consequences, such as claims for unfair dismissal, with all associated reputational and financial repercussions.
With 14 years of experience supporting clients with over 7,000 high-quality PQQ, SQ and ITT submissions, Executive Compass are well-placed to support with post-clarification questions and a variety of other bid and tender services. To find out more, contact a member of our sales and marketing team today at 0800 612 5563 or via email email@example.com.
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