What are prequalifications?
When a project goes out for tender, hundreds of contractors, suppliers or providers will apply for the job.
Unfortunately, many applicants do not possess the necessary attributes/experience to carry out the project successfully.
Therefore, it is vital to filter out any unqualified applicants that may have applied.
This can be achieved by implementing a prequalification process to ensure that bidders are qualified enough to carry out the work.
When prequalification is implemented, only bidders who are pre-qualified will be invited to tender.
Prequalification was originally used for more complex projects, requiring more specialised technical expertise.
However, this has become largely standard, certainly with public sector organisations.
Those who have expressed an interest will usually be sent a statement or questionnaire regarding the project and the scope.
By filling out a variety of questions, contractors have the ability to demonstrate their expertise for the project in question.
Prequalification also allows for Early Contractor Involvement (ECI). ECI gives qualified contractors the ability to offer their specialised knowledge before the start of a project.
ECI provides a more efficient and cost-effective way of planning infrastructure projects.
What do prequalifications include?
A standard prequalification questionnaire will usually include the following:
Context of the overall project
- The project overview
- The procurement process
- Studies regarding the project
- Relevant qualifications companies can present
- Criteria/tests that will evaluate the prequalification statement
- A timetable
What are the benefits of prequalifications?
One major benefit of prequalification is the time it can save the project managers/business owners.
Vetting out any un-qualified contractors will give project managers/business owners the ability to focus only on people who have the expertise they require.
This leads to another huge benefit of prequalifications: saving money.
It can be very costly to hire someone who is not financially or technically competent to carry out the project.
Prequalifications ensure that any contractors who make the shortlist can meet the requirements and terms in the contract.
The different types of prequalifications
Although the concept of prequalifications is universal, there are a few different types of pre-qualifications that you should be aware of.
PQQ (Prequalification questionnaires)
A pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) is a list of questions a contractor is required to answer when when applying for a contract.
Whilst they can occasionally be used in the private sector, they are typically used throughout the public sector.
PQQ’s come in especially handy when there are a large number of applications for tenders. This gives companies an efficient, streamlined way to shortlist suppliers.
Once applications have been submitted and PQQ’s are filled in, suppliers will then be scored on a scale based on their answers.
Typically, the supplier who has the best answers, and therefore a higher score, will be accepted for the contract.
This type of pre-qualification will include pass/fail questions as well as scores questions. The pass/fail questions will relate to minimum financial turnover, insurances and accreditation’s, for example.
PAS 91 is a prequalification questionnaire that aims to reduce the need for suppliers to fill in multiple pre-qualification questionnaires for their clients.
The PAS 91 has been developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI), meaning that the question set has been commissioned by Government.
In the construction industry, PAS 91 is recommended as a minimum standard for construction procurement.
Some typical areas that your organisation may be profiled in a PQQ are:
- Environmental Policy
- Social Policy
- Health and Safety
- Company Status
- Competitive Edge
Ultimately, PAS 91 aims to help suppliers by allowing them to understand the required information they need at pre-qualification.
PAS 91 also aims to increase the consistency between PQQ’s and databases, resulting in buyers finding the most qualified contractors.
SQ’s (Standard selection questionnaire)
The standard selection questionnaire aims to simplify the supplier selection process for smaller firms across the public sector.
This newer form of questionnaire now replaces the old standard pre-qualification questionnaire, which was first published in 2015.
The standard Selection Questionnaire is a self-declaration that you, the supplier, do not meet any of the grounds for exclusion.
If it turns out that there are grounds for exclusion, you will then be given the opportunity to explain the background and any measures you have taken to rectify the situation.
The main change to the questionnaire is the way that it is structured. It is now split into three sections which look like the following:
Section 1: Basic Company Information
Section 2: Mandatory and Discretionary Exclusions
Section 3: Selection Questions
The main reason for this change is to align the text and structure with the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD).
At current, the system in place in England isn’t able to roll out a uniform ESPD platform.
While this is the case, buying authorities can accept the ESPD, the selection questionnaire or use a procurement portal.
ESPD (European single procurement document)
The European Single Procurement Document (also known as ESPD) is an electronic self-declaration form that is used within public procurement.
This is submitted by suppliers that are interested in tendering for contracts within the European Union.
The main goal of the ESPD is to simplify the qualification process.
Suppliers must be willing to provide any supporting documents, on request, to prove compliance.
Before the ESPD, businesses had to put forward various documents to prove they can carry out the contract.
Now that the ESPD has been implemented, businesses are now able to meet these requirements with just one form.
If you are looking for advice or have any questions regarding the tendering process, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us!