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Various decisions have to be taken before any purchasing process can begin. The first stage of the procurement cycle is identifying the requirement i.e.

  • What do we need?
  • What is the best way to get it?
  • Does a framework agreement or other contractual arrangement already exist?
  • Is the item available under the University's equipment sharing initiative?
  • How much will it cost and is there budget approval for it?
  • When do we need it?
  • Is a business case required?
  • Is there second hand\surplus equipment available which meets our needs?

For more information on equipment sharing please visit the Research Operations Office website.

For more information on buying second hand equipment please visit the Procurement Services website

Typically, requirements will be identified by end users who should liaise with procurement staff to ensure the best value for money solution is identified.

When drawing up a requirement all aspects must be examined and consideration given to short, medium and long term needs as well as the possible impact of aggregation on the contract value.

For competitive tendering to be effective the following should be considered:

  • there should be sufficient suppliers in the market to provide competition;
  • the value or nature of the specific purchase should be sufficient to justify the expense of the tender exercise, to both the purchaser and the potential supplier;
  • enough time should be allowed for all stages of the process.

Staff should refer to the thresholds table for information on which procedure to follow.


All competition must be based on a specification drafted after consultation with anticipated users and assessment of the risks associated with the procurement. Begin by getting a broad understanding or outline specification that clearly defines the end user's need. All available options for meeting the requirement should be considered. Ask:

  • Can the requirement be satisfied either fully or partially from existing arrangements/resources within the University?
  • Are there alternatives to outright purchase (e.g. rental agreements)?
  • What are the risks associated with the purchase? What are the key business requirements? Have they been expressed clearly? How might the purchase go wrong?
  • How can the environmental impact be addressed? (reduce/re-use/recycle).

Information on drafting specifications for purchasing (like items identified below) together with a general guide about how to draft specifications can be found on Procurement Services web pages:

  • Capital equipment
  • Furniture
  • IT equipment
  • Fax equipment
  • Shredders
  • Safes

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