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Market Engagement Information

As part of the Council’s ongoing commitment to improving value for money, and the quality of services for the residents of Cornwall, we use a range of market engagement techniques when conducting procurement processes.

This page aims to help businesses understand the different types of market engagement the Council conducts so that you can understand how and when to engage.

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Market engagement has the following benefits for potential suppliers:

  • Gain a valuable insight into the Council’s requirements and priorities
  • Gain a better understanding of the Council procurement and other related processes and procedures
  • Gain a better understanding of the Council’s e-tendering system
  • Make the Council aware of what you are able to offer to meet the Council's needs
  • Enable improved resource planning with early notice of tendering opportunities
  • Opportunity to raise questions in relation to proposed procurement processes early on

It also enables the Council to:

  • Understand the range of solutions which the market can provide
  • Understand the capability and capacity of the market to deliver
  • Drive innovation and improved competition
  • Decide on the lot breakdown of contracts where appropriate
  • Identify gaps in the market which may need addressing
  • Reduce the risk of a failed procurement process
  • Increase value for money
  • Identify any potential issues early on with the specification, procurement documentation or terms and conditions

Forward Plan – You can find this on the Council’s website. The forward plan gives high level details of potential contract opportunities over the coming 12-36 months. These opportunities are subject to change and only give an indication of potential future contracts. We endeavour to update this on a quarterly basis.

Market Position Statements (MPS) – An MPS documents the Council’s view of the state of a particular market sector, links it to our future needs, and details any gaps we see in provision. It’s the Council’s intention to publish an MPS for each key spend area during 2017/18.

Co-design and/or Co-production Workshops – These workshops are likely to be held very early on in the procurement process. Typically the Council will work with potential suppliers, end users and other stakeholders to help ensure the procurement meets the needs of end users. The workshops are be highly structured but will usually start with a simple concept rather than a draft specification and are consequently run well in advance of publishing a Contract Notice.

Being involved in a co-design and/or co-production process can be resource intensive but it is a key opportunity to input into the direction of a procurement process. Materials from a co-design/production workshop will always be made publically available after the event to maintain transparency and will be references in any resulting procurement documentation.

Prior Information Notice (PIN) – Prior Information Notices are published on the OJEU, Contracts Finder and Supplying the South West. This document is used to inform potential suppliers of an upcoming procurement. There must be a period of at least a month between the publication of a PIN and a Contract Notice. They can also be used to publish a Soft Market Test or invite potential suppliers to a co-design/production workshop and/or pre-procurement supplier information day.

Soft Market Test – This is a key opportunity to raise potential issues which may affect your appetite to respond to a tender opportunity e.g. issues with the specification or terms and conditions. It will usually be published as an online questionnaire and advertised through Supplying the South West and Contracts Finder. Soft Market Tests are also sometimes used to seek information on potential solutions which are available on the market. These opportunities to input into the procurement process are often run well in advance of the publication of the Contract Notice but can be as close as 4 weeks before.

Pre-procurement Supplier Information Day – These face to face events are usually run just before a Contract Notice is published and offer an opportunity to find out about the procurement before the Contract Notice is published and ask any final questions/clarifications. They are often held on site where a contract is to be delivered at a specific location or in a specific property. Supplier Information Days can be a good opportunity to scope out the resource which is likely to be required during the procurement process. These events will usually also involve some basic training on the Council’s e-tendering system which is invaluable if you’ve not used it before. Materials from a Supplier Information Day will always be published online after the event to maintain transparency.

Supplier Briefing – Occasionally, where a contract or procurement is particularly complex, a Supplier Briefing is run during the tender process to address clarifications and/or deal with any issues that have arisen. This style of market engagement is less common. Materials from a Supplier Briefing will always be published alongside the Contract Notice after the event to maintain transparency and ensure fairness in the procurement process.

Feedback to unsuccessful suppliers – Where possible the Council seeks to offer extended feedback to unsuccessful suppliers, this helps to build market competition in the long term.

Updates to Forward Plan and Market Position Statements – Following a procurement the necessary changes must be made to the Forward Plan and Market Position Statements, this is often done in the following quarterly update.

Cornwall Council are committed to being open and transparant in our procurement activity in line with the European Treaty.