In the third part of a six-part series, Tim Jennett, Framework and Procurement Manager at Prosper discusses what happens when tenders are submitted and the evaluation process begins...
So, the tender deadline has passed along with the initial flurry of excitement to discover how many tenders have been submitted. And now the serious business begins to evaluate the tenders to determine the successful contractor. Whilst all tenders are different in content, the same principals of treating all bidders equally, without discrimination and acting in a transparent and proportionate manner apply.
The first step is to ensure the tenders have been received on time, are materially complete and have complied with tender instructions. It is possible for tenders to be excluded at this early stage, for example if they were received after the deadline, or are missing key documentation. Believe it or not, in my experience, there have been occasions where key pricing documents or award questionnaires have not been submitted so those bidders were quickly discounted – demonstrating the importance for allowing plenty of time to prepare responses and double check all documentation before submitting.
Whilst all tenders are different in content, the same principals of treating all bidders equally, without discrimination and acting in a transparent and proportionate manner apply.Tim Jennett, Propser Procurement
The pricing documents are carefully checked to ensure full pricing information has been provided. If any required information is missing, it could result in the tender being deemed non-compliant and excluded from further evaluation. The price element should be consistent with the full tender submission. Any comments or assumptions noted by bidders are reviewed, and if necessary, clarification sought from some or all bidders as appropriate to ensure all tenders are evaluated on a like for like basis. Abnormally low bids will be investigated in accordance with Public Contracts Regulations.
Whilst it is tempting to focus on price, bidders should not underestimate the importance of the quality questions. This is where the client is testing key aspects of the procurement process to make sure bidders have understood the requirements and have demonstrated they can deliver the desired outcomes. Each tender will be scored in accordance with the stated evaluation criteria and weightings. Evaluators are looking for succinct and clear responses to the questions asked. It may seem obvious, but bidders should make sure they answer the question asked and not include irrelevant information.
There may be elements within submissions that require clarification. This is to ensure that evaluators have interpreted the responses correctly if any information is unclear or ambiguous. Clarification questions will be sent to some or all bidders as appropriate, or clarification meetings held.
Once the evaluation team has completed the scoring of all sections, the final scores will be calculated, considering the weightings. An evaluation report is prepared with recommendations for award. This is reviewed in accordance with any internal approval processes to confirm the decision to award.
Once approval to award has been given, an award notification is sent to the winning bidder. Unsuccessful bidders are also informed and provided with feedback on their bid in comparison to the successful tender. If it’s an OJEU tender, there will be a mandatory standstill period before the contract can be concluded with the successful bidder. Finally, award notices are published on Contracts Finder and in OJEU (if required) in accordance with Public Contracts Regulations.