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How to Navigate the SSQ

SSQ

The standard selection questionnaire (SSQ) is an EU-standardised document, designed to “simplify the supplier selection process for businesses, in particular smaller firms, across the public sector.”  It does this through the application of an easy-to-understand set of questions which allows Suppliers and Buyers to conduct procurement exercises more efficiently.

However, while supposedly simple, we often find that clients struggle to successfully navigate the SSQ. Complicated jargon or unclear specifications can often throw suppliers off. With this in mind, we have put together a guide to help you successfully navigate your next SSQ.

SSQ

The Questionnaire

The SSQ is split into 3 distinct parts:

Part 1: Potential Supplier Information

Part 1 is perhaps the most straight-forward section of all. On the most part, it simply requires that you provide basic company information which can easily be found online through websites such as Companies House and Dun & Bradstreet.

You will also need to list any professional trade registrations, authorisations or memberships you hold.

Other than this, you will need to outline your bidding model which, unless you are applying under some form of joint venture, or partnership agreement, you needn’t worry about.

Part 2: Exclusion Grounds

Part 2 most often consists of a lot of tick boxes wherein you must show that there are no grounds for your company’s exclusion. The questionnaire will ask questions such as whether you have ever been convicted of Corruption, Fraud, Terrorist Offences etc. Excepting the most extreme circumstances, you should just be able to tick ‘no’ to all of these.

If you do have a few demons in the closet, you must simply explain your situation in the box provided.

Part 3: Selection Questions

Part 3 is the most confusing section of the SSQ for a number of reasons, not least because it is the most hands-on of the three.

Finances

You will need to provide evidence of your economic and financial standing. Most of the time this will be nothing to worry about. Your publicly available accounts will most often suffice.

Experience

You need to provide evidence of your experience in the form of three previous contract examples. You must make sure these are as relevant as possible to the opportunity you are bidding for. Tendering is heavily weighted on experience so consider waiting to tender if you don’t yet have enough.

Modern Slavery

Next, there is a section on Modern Slavery. Only the largest companies (£36m+ Turnover) need respond to this, as first you must confirm that you are not “a relevant commercial organisation as defined by section 54 (“Transparency in supply chains etc.”) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015″. Unless you turnover more than £36m, you are not.

Insurance

There is a section on insurances. If you do not hold the required levels of insurance, a quick call to your insurer should enable you to expand your policies to comply.

Additional Questions

There are three questions at the very end of the SSQ which often are not included/required.

“Skills and Apprentices”
This section is only intended for contracts worth over £10 million and lasting longer than 12 months. Both of these criteria are rarely met in public procurement, so always ask the Buyer a question if this section is included.

“Steel”
This section should only be included for contracts where steel supply is relevant (i.e. construction tenders). If this has been included erroneously, you should again, ask the question. Unless steel supply chains are directly relevant to your line of work, you probably needn’t respond.

“Suppliers’ Past Performance”
This section constitutes a number of tick boxes and should only be included on Central Government tenders. Responding to this, if you have to, is quite self-explanatory.

SSQ Tips

Tips

  1. While the questionnaire is standard, the Buyer’s minimum requirements for your selection won’t be. Make sure that you comply with all of the Buyer’s pass/fail requirements before starting. Otherwise, you may find that you’re wasting your time.
  2. As the questionnaire is standard, you can save yourself a lot of time by keeping a fully completed copy on file. That way, whenever a new bid comes out, you needn’t start from scratch, but can just copy 90% of the info directly across. You can download the official template SSQ here.
  3. Keep a library of all the most commonly required documents. This will save time and effort when it comes to submitting the questionnaire. Click here to learn more about curating an effective Bid Library.
  4. If anything is unclear or unusual, ask the Buyer a question. The chances are that you won’t be alone in your confusion. You’re best to ask the question than assume something, and get disqualified.

Conclusion

The SSQ is really nothing to worry about. Being faced with a long document full of strangely worded questions can seem daunting at first. In reality however, if you take it one step at a time, and follow this guide closely, you have no need to worry.

 

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Updated on May 20, 2019

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