Are your PQQs convincing enough?

Doug Aris, UK head of construction at supply chain risk and performance management firm Achilles, explains what makes a convincing Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and how to make sure your business stands the best chance of securing lucrative contracts.

PQQs are used to shortlist potential suppliers for both public sector and private sector projects – they usually involve high-value, long-term contracts that attract a lot of interest from businesses wanting to tender for the work. In a competitive environment, it’s more important than ever for businesses to ensure they are presenting themselves in the best possible way – a convincing PQQ is often the key to securing attractive contracts and building relationships with main contractors.

Unfortunately, PQQs are frequently still approached in a tick-box fashion. While PQQs are formulaic in nature, it doesn’t mean that businesses shouldn’t include some flair – the time for box-ticking is most definitely over and the bare minimum will rarely suffice. There are a number of things plumbing and heating businesses can do to produce a convincing PQQ that will set them apart from competitors: 

Make a good first impression
Your PQQ is likely to be the first time a contractor has encountered your business – they will have no previous knowledge of your track record or the values you hold dear. Have that in mind when producing your PQQ and make sure you are giving an accurate portrayal – what do you want them to take away from it? How do you want them to view you? It isn’t just numbers and statistics – make sure you’re including some personality and give them a feel for who you are and why you would be an excellent addition to their supply chain. 

Think about presentation
Make sure that your PQQ inspires confidence – there’s no denying that completing a PQQ is a time-consuming task; it’s one of the reasons suppliers join Achilles, because they only have to do it once. Make sure you set aside enough time to complete the submission fully and don’t cut corners – answer all questions and check it thoroughly before you submit. If you can get someone to check over it for you, take the opportunity and build in enough time to make any changes.

Simply doing the bare minimum is unlikely to get you to the top of the pile – make every effort to go above and beyond to impress contractors. Always remember that a contractors’ concern is your concern and approach the PQQ with that mindset – think about the big issues that they are focused on, such as sustainability and health and safety, and make sure that is reflected in your own policies. Make sure you stand out as a forward-thinking business that is a safe pair of hands. 

Policies up to snuff?
PQQs require current, thorough and professional policies on a host of issues from HR to bribery and health and safety – make sure that those are in place and, if they aren’t, take steps to rectify that. If you can’t produce those yourself, there are consultants you can hire to work with you to put policies in place. Do revisit them regularly and update them accordingly. Take a critical eye and always seek to go beyond what is expected, staying a step ahead of competitors.

Welcome criticism
Do you have sight of your business’ weaknesses? If not, it’s worthwhile to arrange an audit to pinpoint any areas that need additional work. Achilles’ suppliers are audited yearly, which provides valuable feedback for businesses and gives contractors confidence that a qualified person has visited the business and can vouch that it is a well-governed outfit. 

Take any negative feedback on board and work to make improvements. Some work will take longer to remedy so make sure that is acknowledged within any answers. 

PQQs don’t have to be something to be dreaded – it’s the first step to securing those lucrative contracts and making sure your business is a step ahead of the competition.


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