Buying Categories

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The DfE's Schools Commercial Team has assessed a broad range of categories of products and services that schools and multi-academy trusts regularly buy. Below, you will find our Top Tips on the main areas of spend. By registering with The Schools' Buying Hub South West, you will be able to download Buying Guides and receive expert advice and guidance.

Facilities Management

View our useful Top Tips by clicking the links below.

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Utilities

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Professional Services

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Resources

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ICT

View our useful Top Tips by clicking the links below.

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Catering Services

Outsourced Catering, Food Supplies

Did You Know?

  • There are set targets for School Food Standards.
  • You may have options for savings within your current provision.
  • Your catering service may be able to generate an income for your school – or alternatively, your suppliers may be able to provide investment for new service offers.

Key Considerations

When planning your Catering, there are important things to consider to ensure the provision is fresh and exciting – and that it meets required standards, and delivers what your school needs.

  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • TUPE may apply, and where you are outsourcing or coming away from your local authority for the first time, LGPS may also apply. Make sure both are fully considered within your specification, pricing and evaluation.
  • Have you checked potential suppliers’ processes for DBS checks?
  • Have you undertaken research to see what your staff and pupils want, to ensure a successful catering provision.
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Cleaning Services

Cleaning Services & Supplies, Window Cleaning.

Did You Know?

  • You may have options for savings within your current provision.
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services.
  • There may be different ways of working to improve the service.

Key Considerations

When planning your Cleaning provision, there are important things to consider to ensure the service is fit for purpose and offers value for money.

  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • TUPE may apply, and where you are outsourcing or coming away from your local authority for the first time, LGPS may also apply. Make sure both are fully considered within your specification, pricing and evaluation.
  • Have you checked potential suppliers’ processes for DBS checks?
  • What is the contract term, how long will the agreement run for, and will there be any options to extend?
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Buildings Maintenance

Planned & Preventative Maintenance, Electrical, Heating, Safety Checks, Maintenance for Doors and Windows, Plumbing.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services.
  • There may be different ways of working.
  • You can combine your maintenance service requirements to leverage your buying power.
Key Considerations
When planning your Buildings Maintenance there are important things to consider to ensure the service is fit for purpose, and offers value for money.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • Have you checked potential suppliers’ processes for DBS checks?
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.
  • Ensure your supplier has suitable accreditation – e.g. CHAS, NEBOSH, ISO 9001, 140001
  • Ensure your supplier has suitable levels of insurance such as Public Liability and Professional Indemnity.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Grounds Maintenance

Lawns, Hedges, Garden Areas, Sports Grounds, Weed Control, Gritting, Seasonal Maintenance.

Did You Know?

  • You may have options for savings within your current provision.
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services.
  • There may be different ways of working.

Key Considerations

When planning your Grounds Maintenance there are important things to consider to ensure the service is fit for purpose and offers value for money.

  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • TUPE may apply, and where you are outsourcing or coming away from your local authority for the first time, LGPS may also apply. Make sure both are fully considered within your specification, pricing and evaluation.
  • Have you checked potential suppliers’ processes for DBS checks?
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Furniture

Desks, Chairs, Lockers, Restaurant Furniture, Specialist Chairs, Storage Systems, Cupboards, Repair & Renovation of Existing Furniture

Did You Know?

  • You may be able to save money next time you procure these products by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • There may be alternative solutions, such as repairing and renovating your existing furniture.

Key Considerations

Whilst planning your Furniture purchase there are important things to consider to ensure the resulting outcome meets your needs. Plan your procurement ahead.

  • Plan your procurement ahead – last minute purchases tend to be expensive, and may not always be suitable.
  • Ensure the solution is fit for purpose – incorrect seating or desks may end up not being used.
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.
  • Always check the guarantee duration to ensure any failures are covered.
  • Could you refurbish your existing furniture?
  • Do you need delivery and installation?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Security

CCTV, Alarm Systems, Manned Guarding, Boundaries, Entry Systems.

Did You Know?

  • You have a legal obligation to protect and ensure the safety of your students and staff.
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • Bundling services together may save you time and money.

Key Considerations

  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.
  • What are supplier processes for undertaking DBS checks?
  • Ensure your supplier has suitable accreditation – e.g. BS EN 50132-7:2012
  • Your supplier will need suitable levels of insurance such as Public Liability and Professional Indemnity.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Total Facilities Management/ Estates Management

Security, Cleaning, Grounds Maintenance, Building Maintenance, Catering

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • There may be different ways of working, and bundling services together may save you money.
  • Bundling services together can also save you contract management time.
Key Considerations
When planning your Estates Management there are important things to consider to ensure the service is fit for purpose, and offers value for money.
  • Plan your your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.
  • Your supplier will need to have suitable accreditation – e.g. CHAS, NEBOSH, ISO 9001, ISO 140001, BS 7671.
  • Will the supplier’s staff be on site? If so have you checked potential suppliers’ processes for DBS checks?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Building Works

New Build, Refurbishment, Expansion, Upgrade, Repairs

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save time and money when you procure these services by combining your requirement and accessing existing arrangements.
  • You may need appropriate planning permission to undertake Building Works.
  • You can appoint a single supplier to undertake both the design and the construction works, or you can keep these stages separate.
Key Considerations
When planning your Building Works there are important things to consider to ensure the service is fit for purpose and offers value for money.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • Ensure your supplier has suitable accreditation – e.g. CHAS, NEBOSH, ISO 9001, 140001.
  • Have you checked potential suppliers’ processes for DBS checks?
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.
  • Ensure your supplier has suitable levels of insurance such as Public Liability, Professional Indemnity and Contractors’ All Risk Insurance.
  • Ensure you supplier has a robust health and safety plan, with detailed risk assessments.
  • Check bidders’ previous records under RIDDOR to ensure their working practices are robust.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Energy

Gas, Electricity, Energy Efficiencies.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save in excess of 10% compared to your current provision.
  • You may be able to save money by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • You could become more energy efficient, and also save money by utilising energy saving technologies.
  • You may be eligible for an interest free loan to implement energy efficiencies.
  • You could access savings on administration costs through aggregating with other schools.
Key Considerations
When planning your Energy requirements there are important things to consider to ensure the resulting outcome delivers what you need.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. A delay could mean you end up on a more expensive variable tariff.
  • Do you want to implement energy saving efficiencies? There are interest free loans available to help you with this.
  • If your current end dates do not align with other suppliers, you can utilise interim contracts to bridge the gap.
  • Energy contracts which are procured via a framework can be from one to three years in length.
  • It can take around 30 days to change suppliers.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Water

Water, Sewerage, Water Efficiencies

Did You Know?
  • You can now choose your own water supplier, and you are not limited by your geographic location.
  • You may be able to save money by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • You could save money by becoming more water efficient, and by utilising water saving initiatives.
  • You could access consolidated billing and enhanced data.
  • You could access savings on administration costs through aggregating your requirement with other schools.
Key Considerations
Whilst planning your Water and Sewerage services there are important things to consider to ensure the resulting outcome meets your needs.
  • Plan your procurement ahead – last minute purchases tend to be expensive and may not always be fit for purpose.
  • Do you require water supply as well as sewerage services?
  • Consider implementing water saving efficiencies – using less water can help you save money on your water bills.
  • Water contracts which are procured via a framework can be from one to four years in length.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Human Resources

Recruitment, Employment Contracts, Training & Development, Employee Performance Management, Conflict Resolution, Employee Benefits.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • Outsourcing your HR Services may save time, resource and money.
  • If you outsource, you can utilise these HR Services as and when you need them.
  • You could bundle your HR requirements together with other Professional Services.
  • You could collaborate with other schools to contract for HR Services together.
Key Considerations
When planning your HR Services there are important things to consider to ensure the service is fit for purpose and offers value for money.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • Can the supplier provide all the HR Services you need?
  • Are you outsourcing an existing service? Do you want to partially or fully outsource your HR service?
  • Will suppliers need to attend site or will they provide a virtual service? If attending site, is there a requirement for supplier’s staff to be DBS checked?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Payroll Services

Payroll, Tax Handling, Expenses.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • Your solution must be HMRC compliant.
  • You could bundle your Payroll Services requirements together with other Professional Services.
  • You could collaborate with other schools to contract for Payroll Services together.
Key Considerations
When planning your Payroll Services there are important things to consider to ensure the service is fit for purpose and offers value for money. Plan your procurement ahead.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • Is your supplier’s solution HRMC compliant?
  • Can the supplier provide all the Payroll Services you need?
  • Is your supplier suitably qualified – e.g. CIPP or ATT?
  • Check your supplier has suitable accreditation – e.g. Payroll Assurance Scheme, ISO 22301
  • Does the provider have a backup plan in the event of technology failure?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Audit & Accountancy Services

Audit, Compliance, Strategic, Operations, Curriculum, Financial, Fraud, Business Continuity, Book Keeping, Tax Services

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • You have a legal obligation to ensure your financial operations are scrutinised.
  • You could collaborate with other schools to contract for Audit & Accountancy Services together.
Key Considerations
When planning your Audit & Accountancy Services there are important things to consider to ensure the service fulfils your requirements and offers value for money.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • Ensure your supplier has suitable accreditation – e.g. ISO 19011, 45001, ACC, AIA.
  • Do you know what types of advice and support you require? Different branches of Accountancy services can require specially qualified and experienced professionals.
  • Accountants can charge by day rates or fixed contract fees. Which charge method best suits you and your service requirement?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Insurance Services

Property, Buildings, Public Liability, Employers Liability, Supply Teacher, School Journey Travel.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money next time you procure Insurance by utilising brokerage suppliers and accessing existing deals.
Key Considerations
When planning your Insurance Services there are important things to consider to ensure the service fulfils your needs and offers value for money.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • Do you know what types of Insurance you require?
  • Could you negotiate with your current supplier?
  • Have you calculated the correct level of cover within your insurance requirement?
  • Ensure your supplier has suitable accreditation – e.g. UKAS, FSA.
  • Insurance brokers can charge by contract percentage rates or fixed fees. Make sure you calculate the best way to be charged for your requirement.
  • Always ask the supplier for their Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) number.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Marketing Services

Marketing Strategy, Design Services, Market Research, Brand & Identity Development

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • Outsourcing your requirement may save time, resource and money.
  • If you outsource, you can utilise these Marketing Services as and when you need them.
  • You could collaborate with other schools to contract for Marketing Services together.
Key Considerations
When planning your Marketing Services there are important things to consider to ensure the service is fit for purpose and offers value for money.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • What type of Marketing best suits your needs – e.g. digital, social media, brochures, community based, publication adverts?
  • Will suppliers be taking photographs? If so how do they protect your data?
  • Will suppliers need to attend site or will they provide a virtual service? If attending site, is there a requirement for supplier’s staff to be DBS checked?
  • What message does your marketing need to portray, what is your target audience?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Admin Supplies

Pens, Pencils, Diaries, Calculators, Paper, Ink, Toners, Cleaning Products, Presentation Items, Laminators etc.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money on your Admin Supplies by accessing existing deals.
  • You could also save money by changing brands.
  • Collaborating with other schools to bulk buy Admin Supplies could save you time and effort, and may give you access to better pricing.
Key Considerations
Whilst planning Admin Supplies purchases there are important things to consider to ensure you receive the right products at the right price.
  • Plan your procurement ahead – last minute purchases tend to be expensive and may not always be what you want.
  • Check if delivery is included in the price.
  • How quickly do you require delivery – e.g. next day?
  • Do you need particular branded products or could you move to cheaper alternatives?
  • You may not need to obtain pricing for everything, you could price a ‘Core List’ for ease instead.
  • How often do you buy this product, and could you buy higher volumes less frequently?
  • Are you looking for sustainable or green products?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Learning Resources

Creative Writing, Speaking & Listening, Library Books, Games & Play, Art Materials, Laboratory Equipment, Course Materials

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money next time you purchase Learning Resources by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • Learning resources can aid and enhance learning in the classroom.
  • Learning aids do not have to be expensive.
  • You could collaborate with other schools which need the same resources as you, to buy together.
Key Considerations
Whilst planning your Leaning Resources there are important things to consider to ensure the resulting outcome meets your needs.
  • Plan your procurement ahead – last minute purchases tend to be expensive and may not always be fit for purpose.
  • Are they easy to use? Over-complicated resources can end up being under-utilised.
  • Do they enhance the learning experience?
  • Does the equipment complement the curriculum?
  • Is delivery included? Often suppliers will add delivery on top of the quote.
  • Are the resources suitable for the age range that will use them?
  • Are the resources durable and robust enough for a school environment?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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ICT Learning Resources

ICT Based Learning, Homework Delivery & Management, Digital Tools, Games & Play, STEM, Online Course Resources

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money when you next purchase ICT Learning Resources by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • ICT Learning Resources can aid and enhance learning in the classroom.
  • You could collaborate with other schools which need the same resources as you, to buy together.
Key Considerations
When planning your ICT Learning Resources requirement, there are important things to consider to ensure the solution meets your requirements
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your resources arrive on time. Last minute purchases could end up costing more, and not being what you wanted.
  • Is the solution compatible with your current network, software and infrastructure?
  • Is the solution safe – e.g. is a web based solution encrypted, and are students safeguarded?
  • Is it easy to use? Complicated resources may not be utilised to their full capacity.
  • Do you need installation and / or configuration?
  • What type of licencing is required, and are updates included?
  • Is the solution easily accessible – e.g. from home or at school, 365 days per year?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Agency Staff

Supply Teachers, Support Staff

Did You Know?
  • You could save money next time you need Agency Staff by combining your requirement or accessing existing deals.
  • You may have options within your current provision to improve the service you receive.
Key Considerations
When planning your Agency Staffing needs there are important things to consider.
  • Wherever you can, plan your requirement ahead. This will ensure that you get the staff you need, and last minute appointments could also end up costing more.
  • Have you checked the processes your Agency has in place for DBS checks? Do they know what information they need to provide to you, for your single central record?
  • Have the qualifications and experience of the proposed staff been verified?
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.
  • Ensure you agree fixed rates and fees up front.
  • Agency Staff should have equal treatment as your permanent staff, and after 12 weeks they are entitled to equal pay, pension and holiday entitlement.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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ICT Managed Services

Supply, Fit, Support, Maintenance, Hardware, Software, Network, Configuration, Management.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money when you next procure these services.
  • You may be able to bundle your ICT services to leverage your buying power.
  • There may be different ways of working, and you may have access to alternative solutions.
Key Considerations
When planning your ICT Services, there are important things to consider to ensure the solution is fit for purpose and meets your requirements.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • Is the solution compatible with your current network, software and infrastructure?
  • If supplier needs to be onsite, have you checked their processes for DBS checks?
  • What ICT Services do you want to bundle together?
  • Do you want a fully or partially managed service?
  • TUPE may apply, and where you are outsourcing or coming away from your local authority for the first time, LGPS may also apply. Make sure both are fully considered within your specification, pricing and evaluation.
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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ICT Software

Operating Systems, Programs, Off the Shelf and Bespoke.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • You may have options for savings within your current provision.
Key Considerations
When planning your ICT Software requirements, there are important things to consider to ensure the solution meets your requirements:
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • Is the solution compatible with your current network, software and infrastructure?
  • When does the software you are purchasing become obsolete?
  • Is it easy to use? Complicated software may not be utilised to its full capacity.
  • Do you need installation and/or configuration?
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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ICT Hardware

Laptops, Servers, Keyboards, Mice, Tablets, Interactive whiteboards, Monitors, Desktop PC’s, Memory, Cables, Routers, Modems.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • There may be alternative solutions such as leasing hardware, considering alternative brands, or moving to a cloud based solution.
Key Considerations
Whilst planning your ICT Hardware purchases there are important things to consider to ensure the resulting outcome meets your needs.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as last minute purchases tend to be expensive and may not always be fit for purpose.
  • Ensure the solution is compatible with your current ICT infrastructure.
  • Do you need OEM (original equipment manufacturer) hardware, or can you use alternatives – i.e. compatible non-OEM equivalents?
  • When does the equipment you are purchasing become obsolete?
  • Is it easy to use? Overcomplicated equipment can increase time and effort to use.
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.
  • Do you need installation and / or configuration?
  • Do you need any software to be pre-installed on the hardware?

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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Photocopiers/MFDs

Printing, Scanning, Copying, Paper Saving Solutions.

Did You Know?
  • You may be able to save money by combining your requirement and accessing existing deals.
  • You may have options for savings within your current provision.
Key Considerations
When implementing new MFDs there are important things to consider to ensure the devices are suitable and are implemented on time.
  • Plan your procurement ahead, as this will ensure your requirement will be implemented on time. Last minute procurement could end up costing more, and not delivering what you wanted.
  • Do you want to purchase or lease?
  • Do the MFDs have a suitable copy speed and volume?
  • Are the devices compatible with your current network and software?
  • If the value is over the EU Procurement threshold, you will need to call off a framework or issue your own OJEU tender.

Register today to download your full Buying Guide and access expert advice and guidance.

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