I work for a primary school so it might be a little different to comprehensive level but I'm just in the middle of getting quotes for a 12k order. I just have to find three quotes and give me recommendations for which I'd go for, to the business manager.
I recently used myTenders Procurement Home Page - myTenders to advertise a public tender - it meets advertising requirements and did get some very useful companies to express interest. Basic useage is free.
Public procument is tricky and not just a question of asking your mates/preferred suppliers to quote. Seek advice from LEA if possible would be my advice or find out what your school policies are (what do you mean you don't have one!).
Well my primary school does tenders over if its over £75k, but even that you can work around it by breaking down the quote into smaller ones
So the first time round you get a fantastic super price but then the second time everyone is so peeved off with you that no one gives a decent price (and so loose out in the long run).
Orr....you go with average reasonable prices every time and so win out in the long run.
Most people run what is effectively a mini-competition where you ask / target particular suppliers to offer what you want. A tender is where you publish what you need (technical and functional requirements which approx value). Some of the advice on here (@john, @Soulfish, @stevenewman) is really good to think about and don't forget to speak to your LA or Academy group to find out the local / preferred amounts for period of contract or value of contract / resources / assets.
We dont tender, we just ask for quotes for 3 companies and go from there, usually by adjusting the quotes to get pricing down.
If you can clearly show that by breaking down a large project into a series of mini-competitions which are independent of one another then you can break them down ... but it is a fine line to walk and should be heavily queried by audit (especially when they see all business going to a single firm). It is not good practice and open to abuse.
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