What Are Pin Notices?
Prior Information Notices (PINs) are public notices used by contracting authorities looking to purchase products and/or services. PINs are used to announce the future release of an upcoming tender, showing that a buyer has a requirement for additional support from one or more external suppliers.
Alternatively known as Early Market Engagement Notices or Future Opportunity Notices, PINs are the indication that a formal tender process has begun; namely a preliminary market consultation. These notices act as a gateway for the buyer and supplier to understand more about the opportunity in question, judge any potential supplier interest and contemplate the types of solutions that could be applied.
Put plainly, Prior Information Notices are often the “heads up” stage of the tendering process, alerting suppliers to new opportunities that could be due to come out at any time within the next 12 months. Releasing PINs can allow suppliers to get ahead of the curve, plan their resources accordingly, have their say on how opportunities could be arranged to best suit their industry and adapt their bid strategies to encompass the potential needs outlined within the PIN.
PINs come in various forms, but can be viewed as partially collaborative, with buyers often hosting supplier engagement events such as webinars or Meet the Buyer days, to ascertain levels of expertise and understand up to date industry best practise, as well as presenting new tender opportunities.
Typically, PINs can include the following information:
- Buyer Name
- Contract Title
- Critical dates (publishing date and closing date)
- Indicative contract timescales
- Brief description of the opportunity
- Indicative budget for services/goods provided
It is important to stress that in the vast majority of cases, publishing a PIN is not mandatory. Some authorities may skip directly to Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) stage. PINs can be particularly useful however, in larger or more complex contracts, whereby suppliers may need to form consortiums to complete the required specifications.
One critical element to observe with PINs is the implication they have on the timeframe of the next stages of a tender competition. If an authority has published a PIN prior to releasing a PQQ, then as long as that PIN has been published for between 35 days and 12 months, the deadlines for submission for subsequent stages can be as little as 10 days. This often catches suppliers out, so it is very important to be prepared and to keep track of opportunities of high priority to your business. Contracts published on the Find a Tender service can have their deadlines reduced from 35 days to just 15.
Pins As Calls For Competitions
Most buyers will tend to follow a traditional PIN – PQQ – ITT – Contract award format, however PINs can also be used in another way, if you adhere to certain criteria. Buyers which are not part of central government or the National Health Service, known as sub central contracting authorities, can also use a PIN as a call for competition in certain circumstances, meaning that no additional Contract Notice will be published at a later date.
If the PIN is to act as a call for competition, this will be clearly stated in the PIN advertisement and you must register your interest to receive updates. Registering your interest directly to the PIN means you will not miss out on any further information or the next stages in the procurement process for that opportunity.
How To Locate Pin Advertisements
PINs are widely advertised on public sector portals, such as Find a Tender (for contracts above a value of £118,000 within the UK’s public and utilities sectors), Contracts Finder (for contracts above a value of £10,000), Public Contracts Scotland or Sell2Wales.
These can be located using a variety of methods, including searching via key terms, dates of publication or by using CPV codes; a system of classification for public procurement which uses standardised vocabulary to help procurement personnel classify their contract notices consistently and to make it easier for suppliers and contracting authorities to find notices. Some of these portals have the option to show PINs or not, so always ensure this is engaged before searching.
Our own software, Tender Pipeline, which is completely free to use, allows you to access public tender opportunities from across all of these portals and more. The search function allows users to search for specific contracts in their area, have relevant tender alerts sent directly to their inbox, create bookmarks for possible leads and search by type of contract, location and many more specifics.
You can also access awarded contracts using Tender Pipeline, which may help to inform you on the contracts that your competitors may be winning, and how authorities have advertised or prioritised aspects of contracts in the past.
Our innovative new Search & Selection service is also a fantastic option to help suppliers locate PINs. Our dedicated team will work with you to not only find public sector tenders but register you on relevant portals, download and review contracts documents that are of interest, summarise opportunities and help you to make an informed bid/no bid decision – saving you valuable time and resources.
How Can Thornton & Lowe Help Me?
As shown, we have several methods to help you locate PINs, but how can Thornton & Lowe help when you’ve found an opportunity that interests you?
Dependent on when the opportunity is expected to be published at PQQ stage, there are several areas where we can add value, supporting on areas of bid writing such as competitor research, reviewing previous bids to see where they could be improved or curating case studies which can be used across a variety of different bids.
Thornton & Lowe also offer training courses, to ensure that, should you wish to keep bid writing in house, your team is up to date with the best industry practice and has the skills, knowledge and guidance to approach bidding with confidence.
Speak with a Bid Writing expert today