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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs on Guided Buying 

Having assessed that the purchase of the goods or services is required, the value of the purchase may require that the supplier selection is subject to a competitive process. This section sets out the information relating to competition which needs to be followed before a requisition can be raised.


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When is the need for competition applied?

The College has a requirement to obtain best value for money in all its purchases of goods and services. In order to show this best value, the College has set in place Regulations requiring all purchases of goods and services over £10,000 (plus VAT where applicable) to be subject to competition.

The requirement for competition is based on the total value of the purchase order, and not the individual items within the order. If an existing purchase order is topped up and now exceeds the competition threshold, a justification for the top up will be required.

The use of a College Preferred Supplier may negate the need to carry out a competitive process as their appointment as a Preferred Supplier was made following a full competitive process. Contact the Procurement Department for confirmation if your purchase would fall under this category. 

How many quotations are required?

The number of quotations or tenders required and involvement of the Procurement Department depend on the value of the purchase.

 The following table sets out the requirements:

When you must obtain quotations/tenders -

Value From (exc VAT):

Value To (exc VAT):

Tendering Requirements:



 Order may be made without competitive quotations



 Seek at least 3 written quotations - obtaining at least 2



 Seek a minimum of 3 written quotations or tenders.  A record should be kept detailing the decision and reasons for selecting a tender or quotation exercise.



 A minimum of 3 written tenders must be invited.


Consult with Purchasing, who will carry out the tender on your behalf.

Obtaining quotations

All quotations should be formally submitted, preferably via email. When submitting a request for quotation, it is important that each bidder is given the same information at the same time. This can be done by sending one group email, which BCCs the suppliers so they receive exactly the same information (the specification of requirements and the date to respond by) but are not aware of who else may be bidding.

It is important to establish suitable suppliers before issuing any inviting to quote. Preferred Suppliers should be given preference; if there are no suitable preferred suppliers, Departments are encouraged to consider existing College suppliers or consult the Procurement Department for suggestions.

For purchases over £50,000, where tendering is recommended instead of obtaining quotations, full guidance and template documentation can be found on the Procurement webpages  

When raising a purchase requisition following a competitive process, either copies of the quotations received or a summary document with the recommendation must be attached to the requisition on ICIS

Purchasing-led Tenders

The Procurement Department must be involved in any tender for goods or services over £100,000, and can assist with tenders under this value on request. To initiate the tender process, the Procurement contact will require specific information to carry out a tender on your behalf.  You will need to complete a Tender Prep Sheet to start the process. Prep sheets (word) for Goods, Services and IT projects are available  

The Procurement Department will issue the tenders and act as the sole point of contact during the tender period. They will also assist with the financial evaluation if requested and prepare the final evaluation report and contract.

When raising a purchase requisition following a competitive tender, a copy of the tender evaluation report must be attached to the requisition on ICIS

Procurement Department Contacts are as follows:

Laboratory-related low value equipment and services – Zafar Khan

IT-related equipment and services – Caroline Callender

Business Services – Judge Singh

Estates-related works – Abad Zalal

Capital Equipment, all other services, and general queries – Jan McMahon


Although we are not obliged to accept the lowest price in every case, it is important that we can justify our selection. This allows us to provide evidence to Funding Body audits of value for money, as well as provide feedback to unsuccessful bidders to aid them for future competitions.

It is always best to agree evaluation criteria before beginning the evaluation of the bids. This allows each bid to be considered on the same basis.  

Publishing the evaluation criteria within the tender or quotation request documentation helps the suppliers understand our needs and prepare their bid accordingly to best meet these needs. Once agreed and published, the evaluation criteria cannot be changed before the bids are received without notifying the bidders, and cannot be changed at all once the bids have been received and opened.

Example criteria that can be used include Cost, Lead Time, Ability to meet the Specification, Servicing, Quality and Lead Times, but must not include anything which is not apparent to the bidders in the RFQ specification, or anything which may favour one supplier, such as specific functionality only available from one manufacturer.

Any post-tender negotiation to try to improve a bid must only be carried out after the initial evaluation has identified the preferred bidder based on the technical grounds set out in the evaluation criteria, and must then only be carried out with the preferred bidder. Post Tender negotiation must not be used introduce a new competition between two bidders to improve their bids against each other.  The Procurement Department can assist with any post tender negotiation.

No Alternative Supplier

In exceptional circumstances it may not be possible to undertake a full competitive process. Reasons for this may include but not be limited to:

  • that we have justifiable grounds to seek specific technology that is only available from one source, such as patented to one manufacturer, or new technology essential to our research;
  • that we are seeking to purchase equipment which needs to be compatible with existing equipment;
  • for consultants, we are looking for someone with the specific skills required and available at the time we need them.

In these circumstances a case of single source will need to be made to the Procurement Department.

The case must detail the following information:

  • What we are after
  • What efforts have been made to explore the market and seek an alternative
  • Why this is the only option to meet our requirements

It should be noted that naming a supplier in a grant application which is subsequently awarded is not in itself a valid case for single source, and the Funding Body are likely to wish to understand the grounds for not obtaining competition in any subsequent audit.

This case should then be submitted to the Head of Procurement for consideration and approval. Only the Director of Financial Services and Procurement and the Head of Procurement are authorised to award single source approval to proceed.

This approval must be sought before the requisition can be raised.  The purchase requisition raised must have the approval of the single source case email attached. 

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