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Advice on tendering for your IT managed services

In his blog post, Steven McGuire, Housing Association Business Development Lead at Lugo IT, discusses the best ways to assess the marketplace for IT Managed Services. 

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By Steven McGuire, Housing Association Business Development Lead, Lugo IT

You’ve made the decision to assess the marketplace for IT Managed Services, there may be a couple of reasons for this. You feel that you are not getting the best support or advice from your current provider, or you have reached the point in time where your constitution dictates that you have to tender for these services.

Whatever the reason, the process and final decision making can be a time consuming, demanding and stressful process. There’s a few ways you can consider about how you can approach this process.

Quick quote on the PCS portal

This is often a good way to proceed as you are most likely inviting IT companies to submit a bid based on the quality of work they are providing at other associations. You have spoken with other HA’s asking them who currently provides these critical services and if the feedback is good, they are added to you list of prospective suppliers.

There are advantages to be had using this method (if the financial criteria are being met) as you spend less time sifting through the 20+ applications you may otherwise receive if you just published your requirements straight on to the PCS portal.

The companies being invited are also likely to have a few HA clients they support already and are more familiar with the sector.

You would generally send out to a maximum of five suppliers and create a shortlist from there.

You may be able to get help on writing the tender from other Housing Associations with more IT resource, and this method can often provide you with a more targeted approach to the content within the tender and also be much more cost effective than employing external consultants.

Open tender on PCS portal

Not every Association is able to ask for a quick quote through the PCS portal, and they have to submit their requirements to the PCS Portal where it can be viewed by any subscribed supplier.

This process normally involves a more drawn-out selection process due to the nigh number of bids you generally receive.

What to be asking for in your tender document.

Existing client references, goes without saying really, any supplier genuinely wanting your business should be happy to provide these.

How long has the business been providing these services and how many support staff are available throughout the day on the help desk against the number of clients they have.

One of the main reasons for failing to deliver a quality support service is the lack of helpdesk staff. Too often companies are understaffed putting pressure on them to deliver the Service Level Agreements promised in the contracts.

You should be asking what the supplier does to ensure staff are qualified and motivated to keep their required skills up to date if they are going to be supporting your Association.

Whilst cost is an important factor, be careful not to put too much emphasis on this. IT Managed Services are crucial to your business, and it should not be all about cost.

Factors such as staff numbers, good references, supplier industry accreditation and additional services such as training, cyber security etc should be considered along with the cost of a contract.

What to look for from a supplier’s response to your tender document

They need to show a full understanding of your requirements.

This may sound pretty basic, but we have heard of suppliers insisting on this: Make sure that you can contact them not only through their online ticketing system and email but also by telephone. Some suppliers may insist on electronic means of logging issues, this is however no good if you have an urgent issue, you need resolving right away, flexibility must be shown.

Ensure that the service they are offering covers other aspects out of general IT support break/fix. They should also include a good suite of cyber security products, cyber security awareness training/materials for your staff, professional account management, IT strategy consulting, professional services such as cloud technology migration and support.

These and other similar services should be included within the monthly cost of your contract.

Make sure the supplier has meaningful industry accreditation such as Microsoft certification. For example, a Microsoft Gold Partner demonstrates a large commitment to not only Microsoft but also to their staff and you as a customer.

Who should be doing writing the ITT for you?

Be careful, you could spend as much money in this process as you would for a good chunk of your first year’s annual support!

If possible, try to source help from other Associations who have recently done a tender, similar to the tendering process itself, or ask your membership body about any intelligence on associations that are in the process.

Some tenders that are sent out have clearly been written for much larger organisations, not necessarily from the Housing sector either.

Good quality suppliers can easily be put off from bidding because of some of the irrelevant questions quite often asked about processes and some ISO accreditations rather than the endorsed services they provide.

Why listen to our advice?

Lugo, established in 2003, are an ICT Managed Services company with a presence throughout Scotland . We currently have 17 staff at Lugo, 14 from a technical background.

We provide managed IT Support, IT Services, Cyber Security Solutions and Business Communications to businesses throughout Scotland including a number of Housing Associations.

We have a very strong staff wellbeing ethos helping us to provide our services through staff who are professional, qualified and motivated, working in an inclusive open and happy organisation.

Along with our technical expertise we feel our culture fits well with the charter for Housing Associations where staff well-being is high on the agenda. This is very much the practice at Lugo.

Lugo are a certified Microsoft Gold Partner and are also proud to be commercial associates of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and partners with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre.

Get in touch if you would like to discuss in more detail about approaches to procurement

With over 30 years of experience of working with Housing Associations. Our team at Lugo IT can provide the account management role that also includes IT strategy and planning, third part liaison, technology update bulletins and also a means of escalation if required.

As Housing Association Business Development Lead at Lugo IT, my background has a deep understanding and knowledge of the Housing Sector. 

Please get intouch if you would like to have a chat about ways to get the most out of your tenders.

Email: steven.mcguire@lugoit.co.uk

Call: 03300 242 242

Visit us: https://lugoit.co.uk/ 

 

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