Public procurement can be an excellent opportunity for your business. However, navigating the public procurement process is often daunting, particularly if you’re new to the public sector. From complex regulations to competitive bidding to compliance standards, there’s a lot to consider. This guide aims to clarify the public procurement process, helping your organisation to take advantage of the opportunities within the sector.

What is Public Procurement?

Public procurement is a process where government bodies or public sector organisations purchase goods, services, or works from external companies. This process is regulated by a set of rules and principles, primarily the Public Contract Regulations 2015 in the UK. 

These regulations aim to ensure transparency, fairness, and competition in government spending. The rules are generally influenced by European Union directives, although there have been several changes post-Brexit. There are currently proposed changes to this bill in the works, which could further simplify the public procurement process.

Understanding these regulations is crucial for businesses wishing to participate in public procurement.

Steps in the Public Procurement Process

While the public procurement process can vary depending on jurisdiction and the type of procurement, it generally involves the following steps:

Step 1. Identification of need

Public sector organisations or contracting authorities identify the need for goods, services, or works. This need forms the basis for a procurement exercise.

Step 2. Developing specifications

The public sector organisation develops specifications detailing suppliers’ needs and the quantity and scope. This is known as a procurement plan, and it helps ensure that the procurement aligns with the organisation’s goals and budget constraints. These specifications form part of the tender documentation.

Market research is sometimes required to help organisations make informed decisions.

Step 3. Advertising the opportunity

Once the scope is clearly defined, the procurement opportunity is advertised publicly, typically through online portals like Contracts Finder in the UK.

Step 4. Tendering process

Next, interested suppliers submit bids or tenders in response to the advertised opportunity. These submissions should include technical and pricing information and any required documentation. This could consist of certifications or references. In addition, the tender must meet the specifications and comply with the submission guidelines.

Step 5. Evaluation and award

At this stage, the public sector organisation evaluates the tenders against pre-determined criteria. This usually includes the supplier’s technical expertise, pricing, qualifications, and compliance with specifications. It then awards the contract to the most economically advantageous tender.

Step 6. Contract management

Once the organisation awards the contract, both parties enter into a contract management phase, ensuring the delivery of goods, services, or works as per the contract terms. Both parties typically agree on quality control procedures, managing delivery schedules, and tracking performance metrics. In some cases, one or both parties may require regular reporting to give updates on performance and budgeting or raise disputes.

Navigating the Public Procurement Process: Top Tips

Now that you understand how the public procurement process works, it’s time to look at some actionable strategies to navigate it successfully as a supplier. Here’s a closer look.

1. Understand the regulations

Familiarise yourself with the Public Contract Regulations 2015 to understand your rights and obligations as a supplier.

In particular, it’s crucial to get familiar with Regulation 113, which mandates that all public sector bodies pay their suppliers within 30 days of receiving a valid and undisputed invoice.

Check out our Legislation page for detailed information on the regulations you should know as a supplier.

2. Monitor opportunities

Regularly check public procurement portals for new opportunities that match your business profile.

In addition, staying on top of the latest news and developments in public procurement can improve your chances of success. Our Insights page contains up-to-date details on all things related to this topic. 

3. Prepare comprehensive bids

To avoid wasting time and resources and to boost your chances of success, ensure your bids meet the specifications and include all required documentation.

4. Communicate effectively

Maintaining open lines of communication with the public sector organisation throughout the process will create a more positive experience. Moreover, it facilitates the quick and transparent resolution of disputes or issues that may occur during the project.

5. Manage contracts efficiently 

Once awarded, manage the contract effectively to ensure timely delivery and prompt payment. That includes clearly communicating and agreeing on the contract terms, expectations, and payment schedules in advance. This will help in the case of late payments.

6. Use specialist services

As a supplier, you may want to consider enlisting specialist services if you receive late payment from the public sector body. Of course, the first course of action is to discuss this directly with the public sector organisations to try and resolve it. However, if the public body pays outside of this 30-day period outlined in the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, you could be entitled to compensation.

Specialist services, such as, can support you in making a late payment claim. That way, you can diminish the impact of late payments on your business.

Our team of experts will navigate the entire late payment claim process for you, leaving you to focus on daily operations. We’ll keep you posted on the progress of your claim and leverage our expertise to maximise your chances of success.

Browse our Make a Claim page for more information on how the process works.

Final Thoughts on Navigating the Public Procurement Process

Navigating the public procurement process can be a complex task, but with understanding and preparation, it becomes a viable avenue for business growth. Keeping updated on the latest changes in procurement regulations and practices is essential, so browse our Articles section for regular insights and updates.

Remember, if you encounter late payments in your public sector contracts, you can claim late payment interest and compensation under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. To learn more about this process and your eligibility, visit our Eligibility Checker page.

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