How to do business with Wiltshire Council

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1 How to do business with Wiltshire Council A guide for local small and medium size businesses including voluntary and community sector organisations June 2013 Page 1

2 Index 1. Introduction General supplier information requirements Support for local suppliers Providing quotations Request for Quote (RFQ) electronic systems The tender process ( 100,000 plus)... 7 Ten steps to tendering Pre-Qualification-Questionnaires Tender documents Doing business electronically Dos and Don ts Feedback Further information Glossary Contract E-procurement European Procurement Directives EU European Union Invitation to Tender Pre-Qualification-Questionnaire Pro-contract Procurement Request for quotation Small or Medium Sized Enterprise SME Specification Supplyingthesouthwest Tendering Voluntary and Community Organisation VCO June 2013 Page 2

3 1. Introduction Wiltshire Council provides a wide range of services to a community of 600,000 people within the county of Wiltshire. This means that there is a considerable demand for the supply of goods, services and works. This guide is designed to help local Small and Medium sized Enterprises (businesses), as well as Voluntary and Community sector Organisations (SMEs/VCOs) understand how Wiltshire Council makes procurement decisions and aims to support the participation of SMEs/VCOs in appropriate buying and procurement activities. SMEs and VCOs can play an important role in helping deliver services to the local community by offering goods, services and works at better value for money than their larger competitors through: Innovation Small businesses can bring innovation through, for example: the early exploitation of new technology, providing products or services in new or underdeveloped markets, or by using innovation to differentiate themselves from established market players. Responsiveness Shorter approval routes, quicker responses to changing requirements. Flexibility A willingness to tailor a product or service to meet the customer s needs, rather than a large firm that sells an established offering, and bringing greater competition to the market place which helps drive costs down. Lower cost Overheads and management costs are typically lower for smaller organisations which may result in lower prices. Quality of service Small businesses can often offer more personal levels of service. Specialism Many small businesses survive by offering specialist products or services that larger suppliers find unattractive, for example because of limited demand. June 2013 Page 3

4 Local Authorities (LAs) recognise that there are many barriers facing SMEs/VCOs when endeavouring to win their business and therefore this guide aims to help break down some of those barriers. 2. General supplier information requirements Your company information may be requested to enable an assessment of your organisation against the council s requirements, such as: Company information Details required range from basic information, including your company trading status, registered address and contact names, to more detailed information on your company s organisational structure and activities. Competence This is used to assess whether your company has the necessary skills, knowledge, technical and practical experience to carry out the contract. The format for this information will be contract specific and for certain categories of work accreditation to trade bodies will be required. Financial Where possible you will be asked to submit audited accounts. If you are submitting a bid as a group of companies, the accounts must be for the company which will be the primary contracting company, though more may be asked of group members, dependent upon a council risk assessment. If you are a newly formed company that does not have accounts available, appropriate references will be requested. You will be asked to provide information on your insurance cover. Your company must have a level of Employers Liability and Public Liability insurance dependent on the contract requirements. In some specialist contracts you may be required to possess Professional Indemnity insurance, Product Liability insurance or Fire/ Contract works insurance. Equality and diversity Local Authorities have a legal duty to ensure that, whilst carrying out their functions, they take account of the need to eliminate harassment and discrimination, and promote equality. Wiltshire Council is committed to ensuring that its employees and the people it serves are not discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, age, religion or belief, disability, or sexual orientation. June 2013 Page 4

5 Wiltshire Council requires that all suppliers, their employees and subcontractors support the council s policies on equality and diversity. We also require that suppliers, in the delivery of the goods and services provided on behalf of the council, operate in a non-discriminatory way. Guidance on writing an Equal Opportunity Policy can be obtained from the Commission for Racial Equality website Health and safety All LAs are committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of employees and of others affected by their undertakings. Contracts to supply goods or services will only be awarded to suppliers who can satisfy Wiltshire Council s requirements in terms of resources required and their health and safety competence. For companies seeking advice on the development of health and safety policies and procedures, the health and safety executive offers guidance on writing a Safety Policy Statement on their website - document ref INDG 259. Environmental and sustainability Issues The council recognises the impact that its activities have upon the environment and the importance of encouraging the protection, conservation and enhancement of the environment through policy objectives. The council also recognises that suppliers have an important contribution to make in promoting its environmental policy by identifying and minimising the environmental impact of the goods and service that they provide on behalf of the council. Suppliers may be asked to identify their own environmental policy and how they promote the adoption of this within their own organisation. Guidance on environmental issues can be obtained from: 3. Support for local suppliers We aim to support local businesses whenever possible by: ensuring that we take into account the needs of SMEs within our electronic procurement processes, for example: ensuring that all tenders where consideration is given to price and quality have evaluation criteria so there is appropriate consideration of factors other than cost June 2013 Page 5

6 offering proportionate debriefing to those who have shown an interest in Wiltshire council contracts developing comprehensive information on our website, including sources of information and key contacts. To advertise its contract opportunities, Wiltshire Council uses an electronic procurement system, Pro-Contract, which links to the Supplying the Southwest Procurement Portal. The Supplying the Southwest website can be found at Suppliers can register for free to receive automatic alerts from Wiltshire Council and 28 other Local Authorities based in the South West region which also use the portal. Other potential benefits for registered suppliers: Electronic receipt of Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQ) please see section 7, Requests for Quotes (RFQ) please see section 5, and Invitations to Tender (ITT) please see section 8 Electronic submission of your quotations and tenders using a secure and traceable platform More efficient communication about opportunities between bidders and buyers. Instructions for supplier registration and expressing an Interest: Registration Go to the Supplying the Southwest portal: Click Opportunities on the left-hand side Click the Register Free link in the top right corner Complete registration (this is quick to do) - you will receive an with your unique details Log in to the portal with the unique username and password - the first time you log on you will be required to change your password Expressing Interest Under Latest Opportunities use the binoculars icon to search for the opportunity Click on the Contract of Interest Click Register Interest only when you express an interest will the pre-qualification questionnaire or invitation to tender become available Click OK and you will have successfully registered an interest: go to the top of the page and click Home To view the contract again click My Opportunity. June 2013 Page 6

7 After registering on procurement portal, which is a free website, suppliers will receive automatic alerts from authorities based in the South West region advising them of future opportunities specific to your selections at the time you create your account. 4. Providing quotations For Request for Quotes Wiltshire Council will seek a formal written quotation(s), which can be an , from the preferred supplier/s of their choice. These will specify: The goods, services or works to be supplied When they are required Unit of measure and quantity Terms and conditions for the contract Terms of payment 5. Request for Quote (RFQ) electronic systems Wiltshire Council sometimes uses Pro-Contract to seek Request for Quotes for opportunities whose values are below the tendering threshold. Please note that the council is in the process of rolling out the use of Pro- Contract for quotes above 25,000 but below the tender threshold. This roll-out process should be completed by mid-2014; until then you may not see all those opportunities through the Southwest portal. It is the objective of the council to extend the use of this RFQ system to sub 25,000 opportunities when possible. 6. The tender process ( 100,000 plus) For the procurement of goods, services or works that fall into the category of High Value Transactions, a formal tendering process will be adopted. It is the council s intention to use Pro-Contract for this process when possible. Ten steps to tendering The process is as follows, but please note that if this is done through Pro- Contract the process will be undertaken electronically: June 2013 Page 7

8 1. Wiltshire Council will publish an advert in the appropriate publication, for example social care requirements will typically be published in Community Care magazine. All tender level adverts will also be placed on the web site. Organisations registered on it will receive alerts for appropriate opportunities. 2. Interested suppliers may respond to the advert by sending the council a written expression of interest or tender by the required date; responses must comply with the advert requirements. a. One stage open tenders will include PQQ information as part of the tender response and the tender response will be assessed if the PQQ is passed. b. Two stage restricted tenders will require a PQQ submission, used to shortlist organisations to an appropriate number, in advance of an ITT being issued to those making the shortlist. 3. Other procurements routes are available to the council for complex high value requirements, but they are not commonly used. 4. Wiltshire Council will issue a set of tender documents to all organisations expressing interest in open tenders, but only to those shortlisted for restricted tenders. 5. There may be an opportunity to ask questions about the opportunity and organisations should take advantage of that to ensure that they fully understand the requirement and their suitability to deliver the required goods or services, before submitting a tender. 6. Every organisation must complete and return the tender documents by the required date and means. 7. Wiltshire Council may seek clarification when necessary on the tender documents submitted. 8. Wiltshire Council will evaluate all properly completed submissions, which may include an e-auction process for common goods or services suited to that approach. 9. Once the outcome of the tender is known, the council will typically operate a Standstill process, in which it notifies the organisations of the outcome and allows a 10-day window prior to awarding the contract to the successful bidder. 10. At the end of the standstill process, Wiltshire Council will award a contract to the successful supplier as quickly as it reasonably can. June 2013 Page 8

9 When appropriate, Wiltshire Council will give potential suppliers an opportunity to discuss the procurement in order to understand the requirements in full and assess their own suitability. This might be through a provider event, or through a question and answer opportunity in the tender process. Nothing will be done, however, which would give a particular business or provider an unfair advantage in competing for a specific contract. 7. Pre-Qualification-Questionnaires As part of an open tender or when Wiltshire Council wishes to develop a shortlist through a restricted tender it will issue a PQQ to support the selection of tenderers whose bids will subsequently be evaluated. All or some of the following types of question will be asked: What are the supplier s educational and professional qualifications that enable them to deliver this contract? What is the average number of staff employed over a three year period? What equipment, tools or plant does the supplier have available for the contract? What similar work has the supplier undertaken in the last three years? What references can the supplier offer from current or past customers? What standard company policies does the supplier operate? What evidence does the supplier have of its good financial standing? Tenderers may also have to provide a copy of their most recently audited accounts and a statement of the organisation s turnover, profit and loss and cash flow for the most recent year, or a statement of the forecast cash flow for the coming year. NB: Wiltshire Council can disqualify suppliers at this selection stage based on their responses to factors such as financial standing and technical capability. 8. Tender documents Upon application during an open tender, or upon successful short-listing following a restricted tender, Wiltshire Council will issue a set, or bundle, of tender documents that will typically consist of the following elements: June 2013 Page 9

10 Letter of invitation this will advise when, how and where tenders should be submitted. Instructions to tenderers provides guidance for correctly completing the tender documents and set out or refer to the rules that will govern the procurement. Form of tender an agreement to the terms and conditions of the tender by the tenderer. Specification sets out what the council wants to achieve in terms of output, standards and performance and outcomes. Terms and conditions of contract sets out the legally binding terms on which a successful tenderer will provide goods, services, or works, as the case may be, and this includes method of payment. Tender return schedules documents required to be completed by the tenderer detailing specific elements of the proposal such as prices or rates. Tender evaluation criteria this will demonstrate, in outline, how the council intends to evaluate each tender and on which basis it will select a contractor. A price/ quality ratio will generally be stated that represents the weighting given to the elements for evaluation. Tender return instructions this states the contract reference number, date and address for return and may include a pre-printed label for non-electronic tenders. 9. Doing business electronically If you do business with Wiltshire Council, please ensure that you supply an up-to-date address and, once registered, ensure that you inform Wiltshire Council if any of your details change, in particular the address and telephone number. In addition to using the Pro-Contract system for conducting tenders and quotes, the council also uses SAP to raise purchase orders, either for low value routine procurements, or for orders placed against a contract won through a tender. 10. Dos and Don ts This checklist may help you: A list of what to do: Provide requested information on time and in the required format and remember the date given for a response is normally the last date that can be accepted. Study our advertisements carefully; they are the opportunity for you to decide whether your business can properly perform the June 2013 Page 10

11 contract. There will usually be a contact name and telephone number; it will often be useful to contact the council officer who is responsible for the contract so that you can talk it through and really understand the requirements. This will avoid your wasting valuable time and money tendering for a contract for which you cannot realistically compete. Ask questions during the process if something is not clear. Provide any pre-qualification data accurately and in the format described. Ensure that you have proof of postage. Provide accurate, clear and concise contact details; telephone numbers, s and fax details. Review your policies on a regular basis to ensure that they comply with current legislation. Comply with the ITT and any other regulations that apply. Failure to do so may lead to disqualification. A list of what not to do: Don t send glossy brochures that have not been requested. They make any responses messy and difficult to assess properly. Send only what has been requested and only send supplementary information if we have offered the opportunity to do so. Don t seek to influence the tender process by requesting meetings or contacting the council to discuss your tender. If your tender requires clarification the council will contact you. Please don t place marks on the tender envelope or parcel that identifies your company in any way. Don t seek changes to the tender documentation after tenders have been submitted. 11. Feedback Whatever the result of your tender, you are entitled to proportionate feedback or a de-brief and, in fact, we encourage you to ask for one. To be told in which areas you did well and not so well should help improve any future tender submissions. 12. Further information Using this guide does not guarantee the award or continuation of a contract. Legally, LAs cannot have a positive discrimination policy which favours local companies, but they like to ensure that SMEs/VCOs are encouraged to compete for opportunities for new and continued business. June 2013 Page 11

12 This guide is designed to provide you with an overview of doing business with Wiltshire Council. For further information on any of the topics contained within this booklet and information about the challenges the council faces and procurement policies, please contact via the or visit It is emphasised that this is only a guide to the general procurement activities of Wiltshire Council. No statement in this guide shall be deemed to govern or apply to every tender. 13. Glossary Contract An agreement between the purchaser and the supplier that is enforceable by law. E-procurement Refers to using electronic tools that support the sourcing of goods and services and the transactional purchasing process, including ordering and invoicing. European Procurement Directives European Procurement Directives are the European rules that govern all public sector contracts. There are different requirements depending on the type of contract: services, supplies, utilities and works, and the nature of the contract. European Union The European Union (EU) is a group of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity. The rule of law is fundamental to the EU. All EU decisions and procedures are based on Treaties, which are agreed by all the EU countries. For further information please visit: Invitation to Tender The Invitation to Tender (ITT) is an invitation sent to a shortlist of bidders, selected via the PQQ, to make a formal and detailed offer to supply the services or goods required. This will include a detail timeline of tender process, specifications, expected pricing response and terms and conditions. June 2013 Page 12

13 Pre-Qualification-Questionnaire The PQQ is a document that potential contractors are required to complete, providing the purchasing authority with various pieces of necessary information by which council can shortlist those contractors: whose bids will be evaluated open tender process from whom a tender will be sought restricted tender process. Pro-Contract The e-tender software application Pro-Contract allows public and private sector business to connect electronically to conduct the contract letting process online, from supplier registration and expression of interest, contract download, and submission of bid documentation, to evaluation of tenders and notification of award. Procurement This covers all activities that involve buying, contracting, purchasing, sourcing or tendering. Local Authorities procure a wide variety of goods, services and works ranging from pencils to foster-care to new school buildings. Good procurement does not mean simply buying the cheapest option, but seeking to achieve value for money by considering a combination of cost and quality to meet the requirement. Request for Quotation A Request for quotation (RFQ) is a simplified standard business process the purpose of which is to invite suppliers into a bidding process to bid on specific products or services. Small or Medium Sized Enterprise SME Categorised as any organisation that employ fewer than 250 employees. Specification This is a written statement that will define the requirement. The specification will vary according to the product or service concerned. For a simple product the specification may be a brief description, while in the case of a complex service it will be a comprehensive document, many pages in length. Supplyingthesouthwest This regional portal gives you a one-stop shop window on contract opportunities from a growing number of councils in the South West. Even without registering, you can use the portal to look for information about existing contracts and new opportunities. June 2013 Page 13

14 Tendering This is a purchasing procedure whereby potential suppliers are invited to make a firm and unequivocal offer of the price and terms against which they are willing to be legally bound to deliver the requirement which, on acceptance, shall be the basis of the subsequent contract. Voluntary and Community Organisation VCO A voluntary organisation is: non-profit distributing, non-statutory, autonomous, and may be charitable. A community sector organisation is active on a local or community level. It is usually small, modestly funded and largely dependent on voluntary, rather than paid, effort. VCOs can be seen as distinct from the larger, professionally staffed agencies which are most visible in voluntary sector profiles; hence the phrase Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) to encompass the full range. Information about Wiltshire Council services can be made available in other formats (such as large print or audio) and languages on request. Please contact the council by on Please note: This guide may be subject to change. For an up-to-date version please access June 2013 Page 14

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