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A Different Approach to NHS Tender Evaluation

In the current landscape, more and more is being asked of the NHS whilst resources continue to dwindle. Procurement, Commercial and Finance functions are having to make budgets stretch further and further each year, which means making decisions on strategic procurements is a real minefield.

On top of this, we are seeing an increase across Public Sector procurement in the number of contract awards being challenged. And it’s usually on minor errors such as a failure to adequately record rationale or follow process.  Bidding organisations are getting better and better at challenging when losing bids, leading to an increase in costs for the Authority and delays in getting vital products and services in place.

All in all, the current climate for NHS procurement teams is a tough one. In this blog I’ll share my thoughts on how, through successful use of technology, you can still deliver best possible outcomes and value for money on your complex procurements.

Technology and the Human Factor

Traditionally, Excel spreadsheets are used to manage tender evaluations and to record the procurement decisions made. However, using spreadsheets can:

  • Lead to vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the robustness of the process
  • Undermine best practice
  • Result in a lack of clear and transparent audit trail for decisions and activities throughout the competition

When arriving at a decision and debriefing bidders at the end of a competition, there are many and varied data sets that inform the competition. (From ITx documentation, clarifications, issues raised by evaluators, rationale, to weightings and bid documentation). These are difficult, time consuming and costly to pull together in a spreadsheet, let alone from e-Sourcing tools, Outlook and other collaboration tools. This often makes decision making different and unclear. Separating the winning bid and the next best bid, or sometimes even the next two or three best bids can prove incredibly hard. This unfortunately opens up grounds for legal challenge.

There are many e-Procurement or e-Sourcing tools on the market which cover many of the processes required to successfully source goods and services. However, whilst many of these tools may have an evaluation capability, it tends to be fairly basic. And often it is aimed at providing an efficient mechanism for buyers to structure their decision-making with a limited set of criteria, individual reviewers or small teams of evaluators. Many even push out to Excel to manage the more complex procurements because they cannot manage the complex calculations or complex process that is inherent with a less than straight-forward evaluation. E-Sourcing tools are suited to a more tactical, commodity type of procurement where the cheapest compliant bidder is likely to be preferred.

And so, in an ever challenging environment, why follow a process that puts you at risk of making the wrong decision, legal challenges and delivering poor value for money?

AWARD® – A Different Approach

AWARD® is a SaaS solution which is specifically designed to support strategic procurement decision-making and mitigate your common challenges. Unlike spreadsheets, AWARD® is specifically designed to manage the collaborative and multi-dimensional nature of complex evaluation. It takes collaboration, weighting, multi-faceted scoring, the recording of rationale and moderation in its stride.

Throughout your procurement process, AWARD® provides a structured, transparent and robust approach, addressing value for money and assuring delivery of the best possible outcome. With controlled access and the ability to contain all competition data within the platform, AWARD® builds a solid audit trail to defend decision making. In addition, large teams of evaluators can be supported within the system, each with a unique log in. Individual criteria can also be assigned to individual evaluators. Their progress can be tracked throughout the evaluation allowing for efficient management of the process.

And so, in an increasingly demanding environment, AWARD® is here to make your job easier, your procurement outcomes better and deliver value for money. By leading you to clearer separation between the winning bid and the other bidders, you can confidently award your contract. With all the data in one place and a clear and transparent audit trail, debriefing unsuccessful bidders can be done at the touch of button. Thus, your decisions are kept safe from challenge and any legal fees.  

Best of all, to help you make further time-saving efficiencies, AWARD® can work in unison with e-Sourcing tools, such as Jaggaer and Proactis, to transfer all of the criteria and tender documents into AWARD®.

Using AWARD®, our Public Sector clients across the NHS, Ministry of Defence and wider Government have reduced their time to evaluate and award contracts by an average of 40%. They’re achieving better outcomes and protecting their decisions from legal challenge. To find out how you can too, contact me at mduerden@commercedecisions.com