Guest speaker Lorna Ferguson, Project lead on IAA&S at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC),  spoke to attendees at Wednesday’s networking event about the tendering and commissioning process at the council.

Key definitions:

  • Commissioning: is the means to secure the best value for local citizens. It is the process of translating aspirations and need, by specifying and procuring services for the local population, into services for users which deliver the best possible health and well-being outcomes, provide the best possible health and social care provision and are within the best use of available resources.
  • Procurement is the process of identifying and selecting a provider, and may involve competitive tendering and stimulating the market.
  • Purchasing is the process for buying or funding services.
  • Contracting is the technical process of negotiating and agreeing the terms of a contract for services, and on going management of the contract including payment and monitoring.

Lorna spoke about the Commissioning process at SMBC, where there are 10 key points to consider in the process. These are

  1. Needs assessment
  2. Resource mapping
  3. ‘What works’
  4. Choosing priorities
  5. Strategy development
  6. Market shaping
  7. Service design
  8. Purchasing
  9. Support and challenge
  10. Evaluation

Every point in the process is integral to successful commissioning. Lorna described that the team undertook survey work for the needs assessment in order to identify key areas in the borough that were in greater or lesser need of a particular service. She then researched other areas of the Borough to see which services were working effectively and attending to the needs of the correct demographic, for example the popular and much needed health advice hubs in Chelmsley Wood and Meriden. Lorna also emphasised on the importance of choosing priorities in the Solihull area, particularly around health care services.

Lorna advised all attendees to sign up to the website [ilink url=””]CSW Jets[/ilink] (In-Tend)- which is an online tender portal and by signing up you will receive full details of all of the current and upcoming contracts as soon as they are published.

A great emphasis was laid onto the importance of getting the tender documentation correct the first time, Lorna spoke about how previous applicants had failed at the first hurdle, because they had not signed one document or did not check every form was correct. If the documentation is incorrect, you will be rejected straight away, it is as simple as that. She also advised applicants to load their documents the day before the deadline and not to try and upload everything on the day of the deadline. If the documents are uploaded late, they will not be considered.

Top tip! Make sure all of your documents are answered and filled in correctly and then upload them online to the Intend portal before the deadline to avoid disappointment!Tendering is a rigorous process and the procurement team have no mercy in late entries or documents not filled in correctly.