Quality Management in Tenders

Quality management in tendersIf your business relies on public sector work, you’ll be well used to spending a lot of time filling out Pre Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs) or Request for Proposals (RFQs) as part of tenders. Despite local and central Government endeavouring to achieve greater continuity with their documentation, they can still be frustrating to fill out.

ISO 9001 certification is popular because it is often cited as an example of demonstrating Quality Management. Achieving certification can save considerable effort, as follow up questions within PQQs can often be left if these standards are in place. If you’re filling out a 100 tenders a year, it makes a difference!

Why is evidence of Quality Management required?

Ignoring the obvious merits of using a company which has established quality processes, all of Government’s procurement teams are required to follow the EU Procurement Directives and the Contract Regulations (2006), which refer to Quality Management.

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC), an independent office of HM Treasury, is responsible for producing policy notes and guidance on procurement regulations. Guidance issued by the OGC suggests evaluators adopt a scoring system of

  • ‘certified quality management system’ – high marks
  • ‘Proprietary quality management system’ – lower marks or
  • ‘No quality management system’ – low or no marks

Although ISO 9001 is given as an example, it is not mandated. Of course, in reality though, most organisations wouldn’t know where to start with putting a Quality Management System together.  As a result, ISO 9001 provides the framework to do so, and although there alternatives out there, they are uncommonly used as they aren’t as widely recognised; certainly not internationally as with ISO 9001. The standard also has a range of proven benefits which makes achieving certification a compelling argument beyond winning tenders.

Why does Government like ISO 9001?

Checking every potential supplier is time consuming and expensive. In the tough economic climate, the thought of spending additional money would probably not go down well with Government, or to the public, even if undoubtedly vetting everyone individually has its benefits.

ISO 9001 has number of benefits which make them a good alternative to the above:

  • It’s established and reputable
    ISO is a massive organisation; hundreds of people form committees to develop relevant, effective standards for their industry. ISO 9001’s roots date back to WW2 and has been regularly updated to become the de facto way of forming (and proving you have) a Quality Management System.

  • It’s recognised globally
    ISO’s reach is global, which means their standards are recognised globally too. For you, this means your certificate will be recognised anywhere, making cross-border trading easier. For Government, it is an added level of assurance that you meet a globally recognised standard.

  • It’s relevant to all businesses
    The beauty of ISO 9001, and other ISO management standards, is that it’s a generic, process based standard. What’s that mean? It makes it applicable to organisations of any size or industry. This makes it easy for Government, as they only need to suggest one standard to suit all.

In summary, ISO 9001 certification standards for trust and credibility. Achieving certification through a third-party Certification Body demonstrates an independent verifier has checked you meet the requirements of the standard; this has a lot more meaning behind it thank simply claiming you’re company of good quality!

How much does ISO 9001 influence tender bid scoring?

This is a difficult one to answer, as it depends on the weighting given to each individual question within the PQQ. The reality is, every tender is different and, depending on the ‘risk’, Quality Management can be more or less important.

Ultimately, public sector procurement officers have a duty to ensure that a company bidding has the relevant capability to deliver the service. Initially, they can only assess this by reviewing what is written down. Whilst it can be difficult to get across what great service you deliver, ISO 9001 helps you to tick that box

This article was written by The British Assessment Bureau, providers of ISO 9001 consultancy, certification and training.

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