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In September 2016, the Crown Commercial Services released the Selection Questionnaire (SQ), superseding the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ), with the intention of standardising the submission process nationally. Whilst this for the most part has been realised, PQQ is still a commonly used phrase, with many suppliers/buyers using the two terms interchangeably.

What is a PQQ?

A PQQ/SQ is a list of questions a contracting authority will ask to assess potential suppliers’ suitability, and ability to meet contractual requirements and minimum standards such as compulsory sector-specific memberships (such as CQC, GasSafe, SafeContractors etc.). The document essentially acts as a standardised filter for local authorities, enabling them to complete due diligence checks efficiently and discount applicants who either do not meet the minimum criteria (such as financial thresholds and/or experience) or fit a category pertaining to immediate exclusion. This allows them to weed out unsuitable applicants without reviewing entire applications such as the quality/pricing elements which can be a timely exercise.

What is a PQQ going to ask me about?

As mentioned, PPQ/SQ documents have been condensed and streamlined to enhance efficiencies, with many of the questions reliant on self-certification, with evidence to validify answers now requested at the award stage. With that in mind, the PQQ still remains a complex document for someone not familiar with it, and can lead to disqualification if not completed correctly. Executive Compass can provide PQQ writing services to help.

Typically, and regardless of the industry, the PPQ will include standardised sections including:

  • Basic company information – e.g. company name, address, trading status, persons of significant control etc.
  • Bidding model – often only required if you are bidding with a group of economic operators.
  • Exclusionary grounds – self-certification that you, or persons of power in your organisation have been convicted of specific criminal activities.
  • Financial information – often a self-certification that you meet required standards and can provide evidence when requested.
  • Technical and professional ability – explaining your previous experience on similar contracts, along with details of potential references.
  • Compliance with a range of processes/procedures such as health and safety, environmental, GDPR, and Modern Slavery.
  • Policy requests.

From here the buying authority may then include the quality element of the submission as part of the PQQ/SQ or append it as a separate document. Similarly, documents such as anti-collusion certificates may also be included within the document or as a separate attachment, so it is always important to scroll to the bottom of the PQQ/SQ document to check nothing has been missed.

Why is a PQQ important?

The PQQ/SQ if not completed correctly, can lead to failure without your submission even being evaluated so make sure you answer every question, and in the right way. Pay attention to detail. Even making sure you add N/A to an answer box where it really is ‘not applicable’ could be the difference between success and that inch towards failure.

It is also vitally important to keep to any maximum word counts that might be specified. At best, any words past the limit might be ignored. At worst, your entire response might be discounted.

If you’re still asking ‘what is a PQQ?’ then it’s time to talk to us. Executive Compass can provide PQQ and tender writing support or training to meet your needs. For further information, contact us today.


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