Navigating the Pre-Qualification Process for Government Tenders

Navigating the Pre-Qualification Process for Government Tenders

UK government spending on SME contracts is on the rise – now is the time to

These numbers are reflective of the government’s support for small and medium enterprises. The time is now to apply to the many open government tenders to give a lucrative boost to your business.

When it comes to government tenders and government suppliers, it’s a detailed yet straightforward process. The process begins with an important pre-qualification process.

Ready to take your business to the next level with government contracts? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to get started.


What Is the Pre-Qualification Process for Government Tenders?

When the government wants to procure suppliers for certain contracts, they evaluate all interested parties through a process that involves bidding for tenders. The first stage in this process is the PQQ (pre-qualification questionnaire) or SQ (standard selection questionnaire).

There are slight differences between the PQQ and SQ. With the PQQ you would have had to submit documentary evidence. The SQ is a simplified version of the form that requires you to self-certify, and you will only provide further documentation if you move to the next round.

The PQQ and SQ are both common terms that are used interchangeably.

The Pre-Qualification Questionnaire

The first phase of the tendering process is called the pre-qualification questionnaire. Filling out the questionnaire allows the government to select the companies that are suitable to move forward in the process while removing those companies that do not have the necessary criteria.

For companies selected to move forward in the process, they would move to the ITT phase (invitation to tender).

What Is the Purpose of the PQQ?

A pre-qualification questionnaire document focuses on company information, including the company’s qualifications. When submitting a PQQ for government tenders, they want to verify your company details and remove those who do not have the necessary qualifications.

The PQQ is designed to provide enough information for the first phase of vetting. This ensures that a supplier meets the requirements to move forward and has financial stability and the necessary ability and experience to get the job done.

The PQQ Process

To have your bid move on to the next stage of the bidding process, you want to make sure you fully complete the questionnaire. Here are some of the details of what’s involved.

Identifying Contracts

The first step in the phase is to find the government contracts you wish to bid on. You can use our contracts finder to do a comprehensive search of public sector contracts.

Once you have singled out the contract you want to bid on, you must submit your interest via a specified online portal. You will then be able to access the tender documents and PQQ.


It’s important to review the tender documents and PQQ before you begin the application process. This is to make sure that you meet the minimum requirements and that your business can deliver the specified contract.

If you determine that your business qualifies, you should put together a team that includes both people from operations and management. At this point, you should make a list of the requested procedures, policies, certificates, and references required.

Completing the PQQ

There are usually two sections of the PQQ—a data section and some narrative questions. Fill those out accordingly and review the supporting documentation and any accompanying materials.

Once the document package is complete, have someone outside of the process verify it for compliance. This can be done either through an outside agency or by someone in your company who was not involved in the process.

Submitting the PQQ

Submit the PQQ with all necessary documentation. Make sure this is done before the specified deadline and in the format requested by the government agency.

Keep the confirmation of receipt on file.

The Waiting Game

If you have completed the forms correctly, submitted all requested documental, and met all of the requirements, hopefully, your company receives an invitation to tender. You will receive notice if you are selected to go to this next phase of the process.

If your company does not receive an invitation to tender, request feedback from the agency. You can also hold an internal review to discuss the outcome of the PQQ process. Documenting the feedback and PQQ review helps with any future submissions.

Tips for PQQ Success

A PQQ document is quite straightforward compared to an invitation to tender, which requires a more detailed submission. To move on to the next phase, you must comply with all of the government agency’s requests. Here are some tips for success.

Organize and Build a Plan

PQQ documents are extensive. Several questions need answers along with supporting documentation. A crucial part of the process is to understand exactly what you need to proceed to the next phase, the ITT stage of the process.

Understand the Standardized PQQ

Familiarize yourself with the specific elements of the bidding process. This will streamline the PQQ process and questions, and you will be able to anticipate what is asked of you.

Prioritize Compliance

During the government pre-qualification process, the requested documents are compliance-driven. There are many boxes to tick, yes and no answers as well as some detailed responses.

A prompt asks you to check before submitting your response—make sure you carefully check that everything is accurately filled in. The entrance criteria for these government tenders are strict. You do not want your bid to fail because you didn’t fill in the form correctly.

Keep It Clear and Concise

Don’t make assumptions that the evaluator knows about your company. Your application should be clear and concise. Here are some tips

  • Be definitive, don’t waver
  • Don’t dwell on goods and services not specified in the tender
  • Stay positive; focus on advantages and benefits.
  • Use bullet points or sub headers for clarity
  • Answer each point in the order in which they appear
  • Don’t try to get around word limits
  • Make it easy to read
  • Substance and content are more important than creativity

Getting Through the Pre-Qualification Process

There are many opportunities for SMEs to get in on government contracts. With a thorough, compliant application, the pre-qualification process may be the catalyst to scoring a lucrative government opportunity.

At Supply2Gov we offer you an extensive database to discover contract and procurement opportunities in the UK and Ireland. Read our FAQ page  If you are ready to start looking for opportunities, register online with us for free.