Our tendering process

Learn about the tendering processes we use, how we evaluate tenders, and the free training we provide on the tendering process.

Types of tendering process

We mainly use two types of tendering process:

  • Open tender when the tender document is made available to anyone interested in the tender opportunity.
  • Restricted tender when everyone who's interested in a tender opportunity is asked to complete a supplier questionnaire. Only the organisations who are short-listed following receipt of the supplier questionnaire will be invited to tender.

If the contract is above the thresholds in the Public Contract Regulations 2015 then the EU regulations will apply - these set out the timeframes of each stage in the process.

We also use Frameworks and DPSs (Dynamic Purchasing System) for frequently purchased goods and services. Bidders can apply to join using a supplier questionnaire and self assess that they meet the contract minimum standards. If bidders are accepted onto the contract there is no guarantee of business, however they will then have opportunities to bid for contracts let within the Framework or DPS using mini competitions using template documentation for the Framework or DPS.

Market engagement and bidder events

We endeavour to undertake Market Engagement prior to tendering. Depending on the complexity and nature of the tender, we may also sometimes hold an open event during the tender process.

Free training available

Free training is available to support organisations to tender for contracts with Suffolk County Council.

The training focuses on tendering for services and is available to all potential bidders, charities, non-profit making organisations and limited companies who wish to tender for Suffolk County Council contracts, subject to places being available.

Understanding the Tender Process

The next virtual training session is on Friday 12 March 2021, 9am to 2.30pm.

Complete the booking form if you would like to attend the session.

The tendering process

Find out more from the sections below.

Before tenders are submitted

We’ll answer any questions of clarification and share this information with all bidders. A date is set before the tenders are due to be returned, by which you must have submitted any points of clarification.

Please ensure that all correspondence with the Council regarding the tender whilst is it live is made via our eprocurement portal Suffolk Sourcing.

Our tender process

Tenders are evaluated against the criteria, using the model and methods stated in the tender document.

A panel of officers usually conducts this evaluation against price and quality. If we spot something in your bid that needs further clarification to assist the evaluation, we'll ask you.

A presentation as part of our evaluation process may be included. You'll be told in the invitation to tender if this applies to your particular tender.

What we look for in your tender

Our evaluation process will be specific to each tender. Here's a summary of our evaluation process.

Compliance with specification

We check for compliance with national, European and international standards but also make every effort to ensure our specifications are flexible enough to allow you to offer your range of products and alternative methods of production.

Specifications for services will ask you to tell us how you will meet the outcomes we require and how well you understand our priorities and objectives. Here we would expect you to provide a detailed method of work, written statements and possibly a timed project plan.

Capacity

We'll require you to have the ability to sustain the contract over its lifetime.

We would expect you to be able to maintain a regular supply of goods, services or works that are not adversely affected by fluctuations in demand by your other customers or by us.

For example, we need to be satisfied that spare parts would be readily available during the useful life of a product. In some areas, we may also expect that you are able to adapt your supply to meet changing regulations and standards.

Cost

This is the cost of the goods or services to us. We'll consider the net cost including, where appropriate, the life cycle cost of the product - which includes the cost of acquisition, operation and disposal.

Insurance

We will require you to have certain minimum amounts of insurance cover (such as public liability, employers liability and professional indemnity) dependant on the nature of the contract (see general terms and conditions for more information). 

Compliance with our policies and priorities adding Social Value

We have a number of corporate policies with which we seek to align our contracts.

We want to deal with you if you can help us to maximise Suffolk £ by helping us achieve our policy objectives and to add Social Value (Economic, Environmental or Social Benefits) through the delivery of goods and services in our contracts.

Quality

We expect you to tell us which relevant quality approvals you hold and the systems you operate to ensure supplies of goods or services are maintained to the standards agreed in the contract.

Will also look for:

Contract award

We will notify all bidders of the outcome of the tender process.

For all public sector tenders over the EU threshold, we're required to apply a minimum ten days mandatory 'Standstill Period' before entering a contractually binding agreement.

The notice of our award decision that we send to all the unsuccessful bidders includes:

  • The Award Criteria
  • The reasons for the award decision, including the:
    • characteristics and relative advantages of the winning bid
    • scores of the winning bid
    • scores of the unsuccessful bid
    • any reasons why the unsuccessful bid did not meet the technical specification
  • name of the bidder to be awarded the contract
  • date when the Standstill Period will end and any reasons why it may not end when envisaged

During the period of the Standstill, you may seek further written information on the award. At the end of the standstill period, the contract will be formally awarded.

Contact us

Call the procurement helpdesk on 01473 260266, available Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm and Friday, 9am to 4.30pm. Alternatively, you can email rmcommbusinesssupport@suffolk.gov.uk.