Starting a new project

That's right - whether you want scissors or a swimming pool, it's quick and easy to create a procurement project that tells us exactly what you need and when you need it. Choose your deadline for quotes, then simply sit back and wait for our experienced suppliers to respond with all the info you need to make the best decision for your school's budget!

There are several ways to begin. You can simply click here - or from the homepage, click the big green ‘Create my project!’ button on the left hand side. If you're signed in, you can also go to the 'My Activities' page and click the green ‘Launch a new project!’ button. You'll be taken to the start of our quick and easy new project process, where you can describe what you need, when you need it, and upload as much or little information as you like - it's that simple to get your quotes!

We're proud of our simple three-step process - it's so quick and easy to create fully personalised projects! The exact time will depend on how much detail you want to add, of course; 

  • If you have simple requirements you could put in only the most basic specifications, and you could launch a project in just a minute or two
  • Or, for more complex needs, you could be very specific and add loads of descriptive text in step one, then upload lots of documents, choose several specific award criteria to help you judge quotes later, and ask a number of specialist questions for all suppliers to answer alongside their proposals.

But our process is so easy that even the most complex projects should be up and running within 10 minutes at the very most!

Absolutely not! You can create as many procurement projects as you want to make sure your school’s budget is being used most effectively. The projects created most recently will appear at the top of the list on your My Activities page; but you can click any of the column headings to easily sort and find your projects.

Our product categories are specially designed for schools, and are fairly wide-ranging. Have a look at the examples in the boxes to see if you get any inspiration – if not, use the ‘Other’ category and describe what it is you’re looking for! We’ll make sure you are matched with the right suppliers for your procurement project.

Whatever helps you to identify it! There’s room for detail and description later, so short and simple is perfect. Here are some examples: ’30 Chromebooks’, ‘New gym’, ‘Cooking equipment’, ‘Window blinds for the library’. 

Don’t worry, the budget field isn’t a requirement. If you don’t know just leave it blank for a range of prices for your specific requirements!

Give the suppliers all the details they'll need to offer you a relevant quote. You’ll be able to upload more files in step 3 if you wish, for example a detailed specification document, but here you should give a clear idea of your requirements so suppliers know what they’re quoting for. For example, if you were looking to buy new desks for a particular classroom you’d specify how many you wanted, what size, any colour or material preferences, and any other particular requirements so companies know what to offer you without having to ask multiple questions.

If you don't know exactly what you're looking for, tell suppliers your key requirements and that you would appreciate a range of options - our school-focused suppliers will use their expertise to make suggestions based on your requirements and rough budget!

Example of an unhelpful description:

We need 50 desks


Example of a helpful description:

We need 50 desks for our art suites - suitable for seating two secondary school pupils at each. Being hardwearing and durable is a key factor for us as well as wipe clean. Stackable is preferable but we would appreciate seeing comparative price options for suitable models either way. Please state if there is an extra cost for assembly as we could potentially do this ourselves onsite.

 

It depends on how complex your procurement project is. If you’re making a specific, fairly low-value purchase (like stationery or a few new desks) the two-week option would be fine.

However if you wanted a particular service provided that would require lots of planning, or wanted a range of suggestions if unsure of which options were available, we’d recommend going with four weeks or more. 

This will give our experienced suppliers the time to clarify any details or ask questions to make sure they're quoting for exactly what your school needs!

The third selector on this page lets you choose which school (or schools!) you're purchasing for. There are two choices:

  • 'I am buying for a single school or establishment' - If you make purchases only for your school (even if it is part of a MAT) you can find it by beginning to type the school's name or postcode in the grey box, and clicking on the correct school when it appears.

  • 'I am buying on behalf of a MAT, for one of more establishments' - If you are making a purchase on behalf of several establishments in a MAT, click on this second option to bring up the grey search box. Start typing the name of your trust and click on the correct option when it appears. This will bring up a list of all the schools in your MAT - simply click to select which schools you're buying for!

If your order requires specific delivery details that you feel a supplier should know about, you'll be able to upload any specification documents in the next step. You don't have to name your school but provide as much relevant information as you feel is necessary, e.g. 'We need 30 of the 100 chairs and 25 of the 75 tables delivered to the primary school in Birmingham, but the rest need to go to the secondary school in London, which is where we also need the shelving units assembled and installed onsite.'

Not at all – step three is entirely optional, and provides the ability for you to add as much detail to your procurement project as you want. Upload floorplans or photographs, diagrams or sketches, descriptive Word documents or particular PowerPoint presentations; whatever helps you feel sure you’ve given a clear account of what you require for your school.

It's best practice (and advised by the DfE) to write a full specification including timescales and the whole life cost of your purchase – this is where you would upload your specification document for all potential suppliers to see.

For more information about writing a specification, please click here

Adding questions isn’t compulsory, but you’ve got the option to ask anything you specifically need to know! Every supplier that wants to submit a proposal will also be required to answer any questions you ask alongside their quote, so you can compare their responses as part of your decision. Whether you want to know if the companies have ever designed such a unique structure before, if your school is particularly eco-conscious and want to ask companies if they have any green policies in place, or fancy asking how much extra it would be for a charging trolley and a software package alongside those Chromebooks - type it in and click ‘Add question’ each time!

The short answer: like all of this step they are optional, and they are the categories by which you’ll judge your quotes to make sure the supplier can meet your specification and you get the best value for money for your school’s budget. Examples are 'Quality', 'Whole-life cost', or 'Relevant experience'.

The long answer: the Department for Education’s advice on buying for schools states that you should ‘work out how you’ll decide the best quote by setting ‘award criteria’ such as: price, quality, how suppliers meet your specification, how quickly they can supply’. We’ve included some of these suggestions in Step 3, but also given you the facility for you to create custom criteria so you can be sure you’ve always got your school’s needs in mind.

These will appear in the Evaluation phase of your education.co.uk project as star ratings, which you can easily select to show how each supplier has scored out of five on the categories for comparison that you’ve chosen.

This information will help you ensure you’ve got best value for money – and your ratings, along with all your notes, will be stored in your archive so you can always provide evidence of your decision-making process.

Remember: these are purely to help you compare suppliers by key subjects of interest - if you have questions or specifications for the suppliers, please use the sections above to upload documents or ask additional questions!

You can always leave this blank, but it’s there in case you were interested to see a quote from a specific supplier; whether a company you’re particularly interested in, or one you’ve used before or are your current provider to see how the quotes compare. This is your opportunity to save money for your school by making sure those deals you’ve got now are the best value – you might be able to get a more competitive quote!