Advice on Writing ICT Managed Service Tender Specifications

With procurement support and training for schools, academies and Trusts diminishing, I have decided to try and plug the gap in this blog and related webinar by looking at how you can write a fit for purpose specification to help you run your tender processes more efficiently and effectively.  In the last of our blogs on writing tender specifications, I am focusing on detailed issues around ICT Managed Service specifications.

For information on more general hints and tips then please take a few minutes to read “General Advice on Writing Tender Specifications.” I have also written blogs on specific issues on writing catering and cleaning tender specifications that you may find useful. So moving on to the specifics ……

Minerva works with Neil Limbrick from Limbrick Consultancy LLP to support and advise on ICT Managed Service tenders. Neil has worked in this area for literally decades (I am sure he won’t appreciate me saying that!) and is a specialist in education.  He has also written a great blog for us on the subject of MIS procurement and has run a webinar on IT Audits that you can access. I would really recommend that you read/listen to these if you are thinking about tendering for any requirements. Here, however, are a few key points that are a starter for ten.

You need to have a detailed and technical Statement of Requirements for this area and it is not something you can ask your incumbent provider to give you. While they may have the technical knowledge, they are not independent of the process, therefore, they will likely write a specification that will suit their needs but not, necessarily, yours.

Include your future vision and strategy for your ICT, so do not just focus on what is happening today. Think about where you are heading. For example, do you want to be a Google school or a Microsoft school? Do you want to introduce some specific new technology or software? You might even decide in advance of your tender to run a strategy session with an independent technical expert to help you draft your future strategy.

Include a full asset list of all hardware, software, and licenses.  Look at your existing ICT provision and any significant systems and services. Make sure you include all the devices that you are using and any peripheral items such as whiteboards, laptops, Chromebooks etc. Finally consider, the current delivery and support that you have, for example, do you have on-site technicians or remote technicians? Is there a helpdesk?

Response and resolution times. Be clear on what you expect and how you expect issues to be dealt with and prioritised.

Think about what is out of scope. For example, do you actually have a member staff on site already, who is covering certain elements of this particular service? We often see a hybrid model where you have an in-house technician, but you will have an external support for all the other areas of your managed service. 

DBS and safeguarding requirements. Be very clear on your requirements. Most schools require an enhanced DBS to be in place for anyone that comes on site and the safeguarding is generally provided by the contractor. However, if you want them to do your own school specific safeguarding training, you should make them aware of that. 

And finally…….

Give yourself plenty of time. If you are running a PCR compliant tender, allow yourself six months, for the tender itself, and three months to prepare for it. 

If you are running a lower threshold tender, i.e. below the PCR threshold, then allow at least three months to run the tender and three months to prepare. While the running of the tender might be simpler, writing the specification will be just as complex as a PCR compliant tender.

I hope you find this helpful. Don’t forget to listen to my webinar on this subject which covers off the general as well as the specific detail on writing a specification. It also contains some very relevant questions about the process and upcoming legislative changes that will affect the way you procure services.

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