Commissioning and Tendering for Contracts

Commissioning and Tendering for Contracts

Commissioning is the process of ensuring that care and support services provided effectively meet the needs of local populations. The process involves a range of activities including assessing and forecasting population needs, prioritising outcomes, planning the nature, range and quality of local service provision, procuring services, and managing contracted providers.


Procurement is the process by which public bodies purchase goods and services from third parties. It is not the only method they can use to secure services; other options include the provision of in-house or directly provided services in-house, shared service arrangements or through grants to voluntary sector organisations. Procurement is a key element of the wider commissioning process.


1. Introductory level guides on commissioning and tendering

An Introduction to Commissioning and Tendering

Published by ACEVO

This fact sheet serves as a basic introduction to commissioning and procurement and the most important issues for third sector organisations when dealing with commissioning bodies like local authorities or a local health trust.

It introduces a range of topics including: the basic regulations on procurement and commissioning; developing relationships with commissioning bodies; the tender process; and different types of contracts.

Top Tips on commissioning and procurement for User Led Organisations & Community Groups

Produced by the SPECTRUM CIL User Led Organisations Team

This short tip sheet outlines some important dos and don’ts that it is useful to remember when writing tender bids. You can download a copy here: Top Tips on commissioning and procurement for User Led Organisations & Community Groups.docx

How to be Successful and Write a Winning Tender

Published by ACEVO

This short guide covers the basics of writing a tender including: the planning and preparation involved; how to offer good value for money; tips on writing a winning tender, as well as things to avoid.

Tendering Guidance: Tips for Completing a Good PQQ/Tender Submission

Published by Broxtow Borough Council

This short guide contains advice for all organisations wanting to tender from public services contracts. It covers topics such as how are tenders evaluated; what makes a good tender; and the characteristics of poor tenders; It also includes a helpful summary section on top tips when preparing tender bids.

How to Be Successful: An Introduction to Procurement

Published by ACEVO

This factsheet covers the main points involved in the procurement process. It aims to help you understand what procurement is, and the basic processes involved. It also explains what is involved in bidding for work and how to go about this and includes a resource list for further information on different topics.

2. More advanced guides on commissioning and tendering


Confident Commissioning: Building Relationships Between Local Authorities and Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations

Produced by SENDPO and funded by the Strengthening Disabled People’s User Led Organisations Programme.

Understanding Commissioning and Procurement: A Guide for Local Compacts

Published by Compact Voice

This is a more advanced guide. It is written for local Compact partnerships but is equally relevant to all voluntary sector organisations. The detailed guide gives information and advice on a range of issues including:

The commissioning cycle – how and when to engage with commissioners and what the challenges are; service design and planning; the different types of contracts; the tendering process; and a range of other topics. The guide also includes a practical action check list and a glossary of terms.

Step Change: Tools for Success – doing the right things and doing them right

Published by the Cass Business School, City University London

This is a more advanced guide aimed at organisations that want to develop their activity and financial sustainability by tendering for public service contracts. It focuses on two key areas:

  1. Innovating to respond well to the public service agenda.
  2. Formal collaboration to add value and reduce costs.

It considers the advantages of tendering and collaboration and weighs these advantages against the potential disadvantages, such as the extra demands on your time, possible impact on your independence, and the need to develop new monitoring and performance reporting.

Each section of the guide gives an overview of the important issues and activities and includes tools and templates to help you work through them. There are also signposts to websites and other sources of information, support and advice.

Getting Round the Table

Published by ACEVO

This is a slightly more advanced guide aimed at front-line organisations they work who want to build relationships with potential commissioners as part of their ongoing development and income generation. Using a series of case studies it explains what commissioners are likely to be looking for in different situations; what ULOs and other third sector organisations have to offer; and how to go about building mutual understanding and trust.

3. Other sources of advice and support on commissioning and tendering


The ACEVO Commissioning Support Service offers a range of support to help third sector organisations engage with the procurement process. This includes:

• A helpline service to provide you with support on the various stages of procurement process

• The development of a library of factsheets and sample documents of use to groups engaging with the commissioning process

• A range of bespoke and skills based training programmes

• Focus groups and roundtable events to increase opportunities for and overcome obstacles related to third sector service delivery

The helpline service can be contacted on:

Telephone: 020 7280 4937

Email: [email protected]