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PQQ and Tenders: What is the Difference?

Executive Compass Branding

No, it’s not the old joke answer “about a hundred pounds a day!"

SME clients often contact me and are panicking about the deadline for a tender only for me to discover that it is in fact a PQQ.

I can understand why people sometimes get confused but the two are different and in more ways than one!

Bid Management Notes


Tenders are more about explaining how you are going to deliver the project and why the client should select you.

They will only briefly describe your organisation but instead will focus on added value, operational capability and core competence. You will draw out your experience and demonstrate why you should win the contract. It is your opportunity to be innovative and to prove why you are different from the other companies submitting a tender.

Tenders vary widely in format. Some are very similar to PQQ, they are prescriptive and in neat sections with a clearly defined question and a clearly defined marking criteria. As with PQQ they can be submitted via an e-portal or hard copy. Although I have rarely seen any that only rely on one method of submission.

Other tenders are very loose. They present the question in only very loose terms and allocate marks in blocks. For instance: “provide acceptable quality solutions to the requirements detailed in the Specification and demonstrate full understanding of the requirement” 50%

The above is taken from a government tender document and while it gives you lots of freedom to be innovative it also gives you lots of room to go off in the wrong direction completely.


PQQ are bit like an application form, think of them as a sort of organisational CV. They will not get you the job but they should get you the interview.

A PQQ will ask for all of your organisational information, your stats!

  • Name
  • Type of company
  • VAT number
  • Registered addresses

It will also ask how you manage your business;

  • Do you have ISO?
  • If not what systems do you have in place?
  • Do you have an environmental/sustainability/employment/equal opportunities/health and safety/etc policy?

You will be asked to provide your accounts from between the last three to five years, references and you will usually be asked to outline experience that you have had in delivering the type of work to which the PQQ pertains.

They are all different but those are the main elements.

PQQ are a combination of Pass/Fail and weighted questions although sometimes they do not have the weighting element. Pass/Fail will be things like defaults on previous contracts, ongoing or past litigation etc. The weightings will come in on the policy side. Are you environmentally friendly, do you have a robust health and safety plan and risk assessments in place etc?

Why have PQQ

PQQ save both parties a lot of money. They help to sift through the companies who can genuinely deliver the project and those that cannot.

Tendering can be expensive both in terms of time and money. PQQ makes sure that you do not have to bear the expensive that tendering can bring if you are not (in the eyes of the client) able to deliver the job. They also help the client to shortlist the companies that are most likely to meet their needs without having to evaluate dozens of tenders.

Call us now to speak to a member of our Bid Team:

0203 507 0314 or direct to mobile: 07590 276 006