The new technology Supplier Qualification System (SQS) has been launched by Network Rail, with the hope that it provides greater contract opportunities, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.
It is the product of a great deal of market research to produce a system that is more efficient to the industry and its stakeholders and Network Rail want the SQS to be the primary sourcing platform for future procurement opportunities.
This won’t jeopardise the position of the Rail Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS) as Network Rail’s qualification system for all auditable and non-technology related categories.
The SQS is designed specifically for IT services, as well as goods across technologies, professional services, solution delivery and support services.
Network Rail’s market research revealed a need for a more efficient contracting process; for those registered to the SQS, this will be a reality, as less information will be needed before being able to participate in the competitive process.
For example, when suppliers are registered on the system, there won’t be a need to complete a set of pre-qualification questions for every competitive process.
With approximately £2.2 billion to be procured in the next decade, the use of the system will give suppliers of all sizes, but specifically SMEs in the industry, the chance to access procurement opportunities much quicker and efficiently than has previously been the case.
Glen Combe, head of commercial for technology at Network Rail, explained the benefits of the new system, which will help SMEs.
He said: “The feedback from vendors so far has been very positive and we are encouraging organisations to register.
“The new SQS will streamline the procurement process by removing the need for suppliers to go through a pre-qualification process each time they are invited to tender.
“It also provides a greater visibility of business opportunities and reduces the time it takes to award contracts.”