Since 2006, the construction industry has used pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) to assign appropriate suppliers to public construction projects. The PQQ was designed to streamline the process of assessing the suitability of suppliers for the construction company in question. PQQs made certain that the company coordinating the construction project could easily see whether prospective suppliers fulfilled the necessary legal requirements in terms of offering materials which adhered to any applicable health and safety and environmental laws.
While the PQQ accomplished these goals neatly, it introduced a few problems. For one thing, responding to a PQQ was a serious undertaking for smaller businesses, requiring the collection and verification of a large number of documents. Large corporations barely noticed these requirements as they could easily afford the costs of the hours required to put the necessary information together. The result of this was that large companies had a much easier time applying for public construction works and this pushed out smaller and local suppliers.
What Is The SSQ?
The Standard Selection Questionnaire (SSQ) was announced towards the end of 2016 and is the new standard that construction companies will use when determining the most suitable supplier for a project.
The purpose of the SSQ is much the same as it was for the PQQ: to determine the suitability of suppliers before making a decision on who to award the contract to. The SSQ, however, is much friendlier towards smaller businesses as, rather than requiring large amounts of documentation up front, it allows prospective suppliers to declare their suitability and to apply for contracts on the basis of self-reporting. Only if a company is considered as one of the final candidates will they be asked to produce the necessary documentation.
Putting that documentation together is still a challenge for many smaller businesses, but it is now being done with the knowledge that the company is a serious contender to ultimately secure the contract. Suppliers will have to declare any exclusion criteria that might make them unsuitable for the job, as well as any conflicts of interest that might exist. Groups such as Executive Compass can help smaller businesses in writing their SSQ, which also serves to make them a more viable option for small businesses.
What Does It Mean for My Business?
The difference is mostly going to be felt by smaller businesses who will now find the application process for public projects much more feasible. Larger businesses will benefit too, however. As well as only needing to spend the necessary time and money compiling information at the final stage of the process, this change also addresses a current anomaly in the procurement of supply contracts.
Previously, while the UK used the PQQ, throughout Europe, the local equivalents all conformed to the European Single Procurement Document criteria. The SSQ is based on the same criteria and means that only the winning bidder will have to provide corroborating evidence for their questionnaire responses.
Will There Be New Regulations?
No. In fact, this is one of the biggest selling points of the switch to the SSQ; it streamlines and opens the existing process up without placing burdensome regulatory requirements on the bidding parties.
The SSQ is set to drive competitiveness and open the market for supply contracts so that smaller and local enterprises can realistically compete, bringing benefits both to the industry and to the public at large.