Five things Councils should consider when writing a software tender specification

When a Council writes a tender specification, they are often pretty specific in terms of the type of software they want and restrictive in the experience they require bidding companies to have. This process can often hinder new technologies or companies with new and innovative products from winning tenders, despite the fact that they can offer a much better product.Here is my list of five things to consider when writing a tender specification for a new council software product.

  • Consider avoiding the tender process altogether

Ok, this is a bit contradictory considering the title of this blog, but you could eliminate the time and hassle of going through the long procurement process altogether by buying from Governments G-Cloud portal. G-Cloud lists a huge number of products, software and services that can be bought directly through the portal. All contractors on the G-Cloud have to comply with strict regulations set down by Central Government, meaning you can be sure that they have been vetted before you buy. The buying process is simple and it puts the buying power in your hands as you can pick the suppliers you are interested in purchasing from.

  • Consider using an SME

A small business is able to offer a more personalised service. Often the bigger a company gets, the more levels of ‘red tape’ between you and the person who actually built your product. In a small company, you get to deal with the people who actually built your product, allowing you to get a much more customised product and you have someone to turn to if something goes wrong. If you have a problem with your software product and you have gone with a large company, trying to get their attention as a small Council over say one of their large private corporate clients is next to impossible. Unfortunately I am speaking from extensive Local Government experience on this one. To summarise what I am saying, don’t rule out a small business just because they only have a few clients using the software you’re looking at. Instead, contact those clients and find out what they think of the product. Remember, even the biggest companies started out as SMEs once.

  • Don’t write your tender document with a specific product in mind already.

It may be that you have seen this product demonstrated and think it is the ideal product for you, but by putting out such a restricted specification, geared to one product only, how do you know you are not missing out on something even more suitable? Plus by limiting yourself to one product, you may not be getting the best deal financially.

  • Make sure it is mobile friendly

51.3% of UK citizens own a smartphone and this is only going to increase over the next few years. If you a buying a product that needs your staff to login remotely or one that has a web portal for the public, you must specify that it is mobile friendly (or in the more techie term, a responsive design). To most Council ICT staff it will come as no surprise that a huge percentage of the software on offer to Councils is still very much mobile un-friendly. They either don’t display properly or worse still just don’t work.

  • Ask for a cloud hosted solution

A hosted solution means no expensive servers, no knowledge of complex server maintenance required, quicker deployment, etc. I could go on but instead check out my last blog on why Councils should look to the cloud.

- Lauren