Exploring Quick Quotes with South Ayrshire Council
South Ayrshire Council is participating in a Twitter Takeover of the SDP Scotland account today, 2 June, from 12noon to 1:00pm, as part of SDP's Meet the Buyer 2020: Live Virtual Event. This blog outlines information on Quick Quotes and working with South Ayrshire Council. Suppliers are encouraged to follow the #MeetTheBuyer2020 hashtag on Twitter and ask real time questions to the Procurement Team at South Ayrshire Council.
The role of Strategic Procurement is to develop and facilitate the collaborative process of identifying and obtaining goods, services and works on behalf of South Ayrshire Council, in line with its core values and aims. The outcomes will be the delivery of effective, responsive and accessible services in partnership with both internal and external stakeholders, to improve the quality of life within South Ayrshire.
The Scottish Government is promoting improvements to the way the Public Sector Engages with Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the third sector. The main aim is to promote robust, equitable and transparent business processes as a means of removing barriers to business as perceived by SMEs. The outcome is to ensure that, wherever possible and, consistent with the need to secure value for money, suitably qualified SMEs have the opportunity to compete for public sector business.
A Quick Quote (QQ) is an online quotation facility within Public Contracts Scotland (PCS), that enables buyers to request competitive quotes electronically for low value purchases. Many Quick Quotes are “reactive” to an unforeseen low value/low risk requirement within the buying organisation (otherwise, it would be included in the Contracts Register) but can also be used for procurement mini competitions within framework agreements.
A Quick Quote differs from an open tender process as the contracting opportunity is not publicly advertised. Instead, the Buyer, in this case South Ayrshire Council, chooses specific companies to invite that are registered on the Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) website. Only suppliers selected by the buyer to quote can access the details and submit a price – also through PCS.
Your PCS Profile
A common question asked at Meet the Buyer events is: “Are you registered on PCS?”
Once you have completed your basic company profile, containing the company name, your name and the company details, you should move onto the Supplier Finder Profile. The Supplier Finder Profile is equally as important as the Company Profile, as this is how South Ayrshire Council, and any other local authority that may require your services, will find you.
To ensure that Buyers can find you, the first step in creating your Buyer Profile is to ensure that you select ‘Publish’ for your Profile Status. Selecting ‘Unpublish’ will mean that the Buyers cannot see your Profile and therefore will not invite you to bid.
Tick the ‘SME’ box to let the buyer know that you are a sole trader, micro, small or medium sized business with under 249 employees. Many buyers make a point of inviting at least one – sometimes more – SMEs to Quick Quote, but if the box isn’t ticked, how would the buyer know you are a SME business?
The Supplier Finder Profile is like a shop window, and you should ensure that you input as much detail as possible regarding what your company can do. PCS provides a free text box for you to cover this information; however, you can also pick ‘Keywords’ to describe your company’s services, and this is perhaps the most important aspect of your profile. This, in many instances, is how a Buyer will finalise a list of companies to invite to Quick Quote.
For example, if a local authority such as South Ayrshire Council requires a contract for gardening services, the real buyer can filter on the word ‘gardening’ and all those companies who inputted ‘gardening’ as a keyword will be displayed.
Your Supplier Finder Profile will also invite you to specify which Regions you are able to cover – this is not limited to which Region you are based in. As with the Keywords, the Buyer can filter their search based on Region so if you are based in North Ayrshire but can cover South Ayrshire, you should select both.
Finally, it is important to remember that, in many instances, the Buyer will know what goods, works or service they require but may not know who can supply it.
An email to your local authority’s Procurement Team, with a brief introduction to your company and what you can provide, could be a good starting point. You could attach a (maximum) two-page A4 summary of your business. The Supplier Development Programme has developed a downloadable template to get you started, or you can create your own.
If you are a SME or supported business that is based in Scotland, be sure to register with the Supplier Development Programme. When you login to your SDP account, you will see a named SDP Rep for your local authority with contact details – be sure to introduce yourself, virtually!
After restrictions from COVID-19 are gradually lifted, it is likely that Meet the Buyer events - regionally and nationally - will be held again, in line with Government advice and guidelines. You can also increase your chances of being invited to Quick Quote with Scotland's public sector buyers by attending engagement days and information sessions when it is safe to do so.
Exploring Quick Quotes with South Ayrshire Council
For all Procurement requirements between £10,000 and £49,999, South Ayrshire Council’s Procurement team issues a Quick Quote tender document to selected suppliers.
When issuing Quick Quotes, South Ayrshire Council uses a standardised template as part of its procurement process.
The Council’s use of a standardised template poses many benefits for all suppliers involved in the Quick Quote process, including:
- Once a supplier completes the Schedule 2 – Information Required from Service Providers section within the template, this can be saved and used for every Quick Quote submission thereafter, which will save the supplier time. This section contains various ‘Yes/No’ questions and basic company information which should not change for future submissions.
- As the Council’s template document does not vary between Quick Quote requirements, this in turn means that each individual evaluation process follows the same format, ensuring that suppliers experience a consistent, fair and transparent process. The evaluation process is fully outlined within the opening Terms & Conditions section of the document.
- The use of South Ayrshire Council’s standardised template, along with the fact all Quick Quotes are processed via a Procurement's centralised Quick Quote team, allows for a consistent, responsive and timeous procedure for all suppliers involved in the process. As a result, suppliers are able to bid for South Ayrshire Council’s requirements with confidence and if you have any queries, you know who to contact.
Visit the South Ayrshire Council website for information on Procurement, including the Contracts Register and available tendering opportunities. You can also email Procurement's centralised Quick Quote team or email Procurement.
South Ayrshire Council is participating in a Twitter Takeover of the SDP Scotland account as part of SDP's Meet the Buyer 2020: Live Virtual Event. You are encouraged to follow the #MeetTheBuyer2020 hashtag on Twitter and ask real time questions to the Procurement Team at South Ayrshire Council between 12:00 noon and 1:00pm today, 2 June 2020.
The Supplier Development Programme offers free webinar training called Quick Quotes Made Easy, which is available to SMEs and supported businesses in Scotland. You are also welcome to email SDP Scotland with any other questions or to request further information.
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