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General Chat Thread, How do you run tenders? in General; So, I've been told I have to put something out to tender as it is over a threshold in value ...
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    localzuk's Avatar
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    How do you run tenders?

    So, I've been told I have to put something out to tender as it is over a threshold in value (over 10k). However, I've not run a tender before and nor has anyone here it seems!

    Am I right in thinking that all I need to do is write up a specification and an invitation to tender letter, and mail it out to a bunch of companies? Or is there something 'official' I have to do?

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    HMCTech's Avatar
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    Jyst google Invitation To tender or ITT samples and customise any of the smaller ones you see. Most ITT's are large documents but you should be able to find a jist of what you need. the main aspects are that you put out what you require then you set a date for questions from potential suppliers to come back to you with so they can do their RTT based on more than just what you put on a document.

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    All I've ever done here - and I've done a few that have gone past finance people & governors, so it must be alright - is ask three suppliers to quote, talk to them about requirements etc., work with them to hone the spec down to what I want, and then write it up for approval. There's a one page blank form used here that basically has the following sections: background; companies tendered (a table with company, price, notes), a paragraph or two of discussion that ends with the phrase "The recommendation is there that the quite supplied by ... be accepted." and space for signatures.

    Technically the tender board has to involve meetings and be agreed by a number of people - sometimes including the head, sometimes including the head of the governors' resources committee - but practically speaking, when it comes to sourcing a set of new servers for virtualization, I'm more or less the only one who really understands what's going on there anyway. I'll have had long discussions with other techies anyway though, so I'm not going power mad.

    The hardest part of the whole thing is telling two suppliers that you're not going with them. Still hate that bit.

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    36Degrees's Avatar
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    The last large value one I did (100 PCs) we had to have sealed bids due to the value. Each prospective supplier was told to quote for the computers as specified and return this in a clearly labelled, sealed envelope by a certain date. All quotes were then opened at the same time by myself with the school's Business & Finance Manager present.

    Apparently this is to prevent someone receiving a quote and then tipping the wink to their friend / favourite supplier to reduce theirs accordingly.

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 36Degrees View Post
    The last large value one I did (100 PCs) we had to have sealed bids due to the value. Each prospective supplier was told to quote for the computers as specified and return this in a clearly labelled, sealed envelope by a certain date. All quotes were then opened at the same time by myself with the school's Business & Finance Manager present.

    Apparently this is to prevent someone receiving a quote and then tipping the wink to their friend / favourite supplier to reduce theirs accordingly.
    I can sort of see the sense in that, but... when I got a big batch of PCs in, and one quote unexpectedly managed to come in with Core i3s instead of Core 2 Duos, I let the other companies know and they adjusted their quote accordingly. We then ended up going with one of these others (Novatech) as they superseded the spec of the original Core i3 and had better build quality.

    So while it makes sense in an avoiding-corruption way, it does seem like it's the school that misses out. Even if you give a nod and a wink to a friendly supplier, although your intentions are less than golden, ultimately the school benefits from it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    So, I've been told I have to put something out to tender as it is over a threshold in value (over 10k). However, I've not run a tender before and nor has anyone here it seems!

    Am I right in thinking that all I need to do is write up a specification and an invitation to tender letter, and mail it out to a bunch of companies? Or is there something 'official' I have to do?
    I don't think there is anything 'official' (legislated?). It is important to set out the criteria by which tenders will be evaluated and then to be consistent in the evaluation process against those criteria. We generally score against the specification in the tender but with some additional criteria to cover quality of bid, supplier etc. We have a meeting for evaluation and record the scores against the criteria and then file away all the collateral for any future audit.

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    36Degrees's Avatar
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    Fortunately I knew exactly what I wanted but, yes, I see the point you're making. I suppose it depends on your specific organisation's rules and if there are different ones whether it is classed as a quote or a tender.

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    glennda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 36Degrees View Post

    Apparently this is to prevent someone receiving a quote and then tipping the wink to their friend / favourite supplier to reduce theirs accordingly.
    surely this ruins the fun of playing them off against each other and saving money even further!

  9. Thanks to glennda from:

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    surely this ruins the fun of playing them off against each other and saving money even further!
    Lets remember there our suppliers are people with bosses at the other end

    Yes maybe a little nudge but I find playing them off like that to be a very unfair pratice.

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    glennda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfed View Post
    Lets remember there our suppliers are people with bosses at the other end

    Yes maybe a little nudge but I find playing them off like that to be a very unfair pratice.
    yes everybody has bosses and there is practices, i bought 300 pc's last summer and the cost went from over 320 per device to less the 270 which is roughly about 15k... so i feel playing them off against each other when it comes to saving that sort of money is more then acceptable!

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    36Degrees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    surely this ruins the fun of playing them off against each other and saving money even further!
    Possibly but the terms were made clear so they knew it was a "one shot" quote and I don't make the rules. Hate the game not the player!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfed View Post
    Lets remember there our suppliers are people with bosses at the other end

    Yes maybe a little nudge but I find playing them off like that to be a very unfair pratice.
    It is unfair NOT to save the school money when you can.

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    HarryMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    It is unfair NOT to save the school money when you can.
    Whilst it might be unfair, when it comes to the tendering process it is also illegal. Once a tender is in, that's it, it cannot be adjusted. We've just been through it for the provision of our wireless. A tender document was written (talk to your LA, they will probably have examples you can use). You then need to timetable deadlines for questions from the companies, followed by a date for site visits (if needed). There will then be a deadline for them to respond with their tender. These should not be opened until the deadline is passed at which point they can be scored against the criteria you have laid down and the award can be made to your winner.

    Putting out a public tender is an entirely different process to just going out and getting 3 quotes and there are legal processes attached to it (one of which is to not tip the wink to any of the bidders).

  15. 2 Thanks to HarryMonkey:

    CyberNerd (31st May 2012), GrumbleDook (31st May 2012)

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    I've got a whole tender pack that I put together for my last place for a tender for equipment over 100k in value that was fully compliant with all EU regs etc so that if we wanted we could go over EU tender thresholds (although you have to advertise it in the OJEC as well if you do that!).
    If you want I can talk you through the process .

    Much easier however is to use a pre-tended framework and run a mini-competition off of that. One of the ones I use quite a bit (and I know @john has used it as well after I mentioned it ) is the Government Procurement Service (used to be Office of Government Commerce/Buying Solutions) mini-competition tool. Nice and easy - register with them as a public sector body and they'll give you access to it. Add your requirements and what you want, what your timescales (can be as aquick as a couple of days) and away you go.

    Any questions are handled through the site and at the end you've got your list of bids. It's very cost effective as well since I find most companies give pricing better than normal through the tool to try and undercut the competition a little. Certainly saves any dutch auctions!

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevenewman View Post
    Whilst it might be unfair, when it comes to the tendering process it is also illegal. Once a tender is in, that's it, it cannot be adjusted. We've just been through it for the provision of our wireless. A tender document was written (talk to your LA, they will probably have examples you can use). You then need to timetable deadlines for questions from the companies, followed by a date for site visits (if needed). There will then be a deadline for them to respond with their tender. These should not be opened until the deadline is passed at which point they can be scored against the criteria you have laid down and the award can be made to your winner.

    Putting out a public tender is an entirely different process to just going out and getting 3 quotes and there are legal processes attached to it (one of which is to not tip the wink to any of the bidders).
    Just a sub question: is it then illegal to put out a tender based upon specific software or hardware vendor? In you example could you have asked for a wireless solution and named the vendor? so only companies that provided that solution could bid?

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