Buyer: Request Information

Request information is a tool that enables your organisation to seek specific information from suppliers as part of a formal tender process, or to ask questions on an ad hoc basis. A Request Information Event can be issued to any Supplier that has a valid Achilles subscription and meets the search criteria you have selected. Once issued, suppliers will be notified of the Event and be able to provide responses as appropriate. You will be able to track and view responses. For regulated Events, there is functionality to report on and notify Suppliers who have been excluded. The main access point to Request Information is via the main menu in the header bar. You will also see access points within Search. 
 

Creating an Event

There are three options for creating an Event. 
The first is within the Request Information page, accessed from the main menu, top left. You will see a ‘Create Event’ button top right. 
The second is to run a Search for Suppliers, select and then choose ‘Create new Request Information event’ from the Actions menu top right. 
The third is to clone an existing draft Event you have previously created. This allows you to build a library of draft Events that can be used repeatedly for similar Events.
You can start drafting an Event and return to it later thanks to auto-save – there is no requirement to launch immediately. 
 
Event details
Key information about the Event is added here; the title, description, contact, deadline and supporting documents. Note: there is a maximum file size of 30MB for each uploaded file.

The selected contact’s email address is included as the Event Contact in the information that the Supplier sees in their view of the Event. Note that all users in your organisation will see responses in the platform, regardless of who is set as Event Contact. When you have completed the details, click Save.

Note that you will be able to edit these details as necessary. 

Questions

In the next screen you will see the Event Details, with an Edit button. Below this is a section entitled Questions. Click Add Question to get started.  There are four types of question available to choose from. 

  • Text: Suppliers respond with free text.
  • Document upload: Suppliers can only respond with an attachment
  • Single answer: Suppliers respond with a single response from a list that you have created.
  • Multiple answers: Suppliers can select multiple responses from a list that you have created.

Once created you will see that your questions are listed in the Questions section. While the Event is in Draft status, you can edit them there by clicking on the ellipsis to the left of the row and selecting the Edit pen icon. 

Select Suppliers
You may have already selected Suppliers if you started creating your Event in Search. If not, you can launch Search from within the Event. Within the Suppliers section, click on ‘Actions’ and then on ‘Search for suppliers’.

Once the required Suppliers are selected in Search, click on the ‘Actions’ button and select ‘Add to existing Request Information event’. Once selected, the suppliers are displayed within the Request Information event. To amend the list of Suppliers you can either delete the list of Suppliers currently attached, or run a fresh Search. 

Issue Event
Once satisfied that the event is ready to be issued, click on Actions top right and click on ‘View/issue event invitations’. You will then be shown a preview of the email notification Suppliers will be sent. If you are ready to start the Event, click on Issue.

The Event status will then change to Open. After that point a Buyer user with User Administrator permissions can edit the close date. 

Event statuses

Visible in the Request Information home page and within your Events, you will find one of three statuses displayed:

  • Draft: Events in the process of being defined. Content added to the Event will be autosaved. These Events can be deleted. 
  • Open: Events that have been issued to Suppliers and are within the specified deadline. 
  • Closed: Events that have passed the deadline date. 

Supplier response statuses

You will see individual response statuses listed against each of your invited Suppliers within the Event page:

  • Invited: Your organisation has initiated the event, the Supplier’s Primary Business Contact has been emailed, a Notification has been added to the Supplier’s Dashboard, but a response has not been provided.
  • Interested: The Supplier has registered an interest in your Event, but a detailed response has not yet been provided.
  • Not interested: The Supplier is has declared themselves not interested in your Event.
  • In progress: The Supplier is working on a response but has yet to submit it.
  • No response: The Event closed without the Supplier submitting a final response. 
  • Responded: The Supplier has sent a response. 

Viewing Supplier responses

There are two methods to see submitted Supplier responses.

The first is to click on Suppliers listed within the Event page.

The second method is via a full download of all responses. Generate this by using the appropriate link under the ‘Actions’ button in the Suppliers section. The download will be a zipped folder, containing a file with all of the responses (Excel or pdf) plus any supporting files uploaded by the Suppliers. 

Excluded Supplier functionality

The system allows you to create Events that generate Notifications to Suppliers who have been excluded. This functionality is normally used when the Event is taking place in a regulated context. It is designed to conform with EU guidelines for ensuring that Suppliers are treated equally and transparently.

To trigger the Notifications, and a report for your own records, use the check box next to ‘Notify excluded suppliers when invitations are issued’. This is available at the point you add Suppliers to your Event. 

The functionality is only available when all Suppliers in the Search results are selected and when the Search meets the following criteria:

  • A single Network/Community was used in the Search.
  • At least one Commodity Code was selected. 
  • At least one Region of Supply was selected. 

Excluded Supplier Notifications

Excluded Suppliers are only notified once the Event invitations have been issued. They will see a Notification in their Dashboard, showing the Event details, the Buyer organisation name, timings of exclusion and Event launch, Search criteria that were satisfied, and Search criteria that were not satisfied. Note that Suppliers do not receive Notifications if they were excluded because they do not supply the selected Codes or Regions. 

Excluded Supplier Report

For regulated Events you may be required to demonstrate that the Event was conducted correctly, and that excluded Suppliers were notified. Attached to the Event, you will find the Excluded Supplier Report which shows who was excluded and the Search filters that were responsible.

Note that the Network/Community, Commodity Codes and Regions of Supply used in your Search are not counted as exclusion reasons in the Report. It is the filters used in addition to these that will be recorded. 

View the report by using the ‘Actions’ button in the Suppliers section of the Request Information Event screen. The download name can be edited and is available in Excel and pdf form.

Search criteria are shown in the second tab of the spreadsheet. Please note that the report shows exclusions as calculated when the Search was originally run. Subsequent changes to Supplier data will not be reflected. This is required for the reports to be admissible as part of an audit trail. 

Messaging

Messaging allows Buyers and Suppliers to communicate directly with each other about open Request Information Events. As a Buyer you may want to send out clarifying information to participating Suppliers. Messaging can be accessed via the envelope icon in the header bar. A counter on the icon shows how many unread messages you have. 

You can reply to Suppliers’ messages about Events here. 

To initiate a conversation with an individual Supplier or all invited Suppliers navigating to an open Event and select ‘Message’ under ‘Actions’. Note that any Supplier responses to your message will only be seen by you, not by the other Suppliers.

  • The message header contains your organisation name and the Event name.
  • Enter your message and when complete, ‘Send’.
Updated on 5th March 2021

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