An interesting question was raised about who should be completing PQQs (pre-qualification questionnaires):
“We are a multi-brand global manufacturer and would like to streamline the PQQ process to ensure that we are registered in customer’s approved vendor lists. Typically, who should be responsible to drive and complete the PQQs? Sales Department? Quality Assurance Department?”
Without any doubt responsibility for completing PQQs and approved supplier questionnaires should lie with the Sales Department… Even if they don’t do it themselves. A PQQ will hopefully lead to business so maximising its chances of success must be down to Sales. They must have ownership and control of winning businesses.
I’ve helped a number of larger firms get a more streamlined structured approach with proper ownership. This often involves process changes and new responsibilities. It also requires obtaining buy-in from the top down to ensure that new structure is followed.
As you will see in our Fit to Tender Check-list, PQQs tend to cover the following areas:
You don’t really want field sales people tied up in the office completing PQQs. Much of the information is standard stuff. So secretaries and administrators from any department can usually tackle the majority of a PQQ. With some training they may well be able to complete many of the technical questions. A tender library will often provide similar answers that can be adapted.
However, it is best practice to work as a team when completing PQQs and complex PQQs need input from various specialists:
- Human Resources can assist with questions about equal opportunities, diversity, training etc.
- Some Health & Safety question responses need expert H&S knowledge
- Finance might have to provide financial data such as cash flow or financial statements
- Other technical questions could benefit from in-depth knowledge e.g. Operations or QA
- You may need to involve your bank, accountant, external consultants (e.g. H&S) or suppliers
Sales should have responsibility for:
- Taking the initial decision on whether to apply or not
- Choosing how to deal with it (depending on value, importance or complexity)
- Writing specific responses to questions (using their knowledge of the customer)
- Getting approval for references
- Final checking, editing and sign-off
Someone also has to undertake the project management of the PQQ – making sure it gets submitted on time. This could be Sales or whoever is compiling the PQQ.
How tasks get split up and across how many departments depends on the size of the company. Large companies have bid teams as part of the sales function. Many smaller businesses don’t even have a Sales Department – the MD does all the sales. Even so, the need for ownership and teamwork is the same no matter what the size of the organisation.
One of the problems with completing PQQs and tenders is that they aren’t enjoyable and do take up a lot of valuable time. This is why it is important to get a good system in place to deal with completing PQQs. You also need to make sure that you qualify every opportunity to avoid wasting time on PQQs that are not worthwhile.
What have you found helpful to streamline how you deal with completing PQQs?