In a one-stage process with open tender, qualifications are presented at the same time as the offer. The procuring authority must first assess qualifications before evaluating the bids. Separating these two steps sequentially is generally regarded as good practice, and some jurisdictions regulate the process in this way through their legal framework to protect transparency.
In a two-stage open tender (pre-qualification), or in interactive or dialogue processes, qualification is done in advance of inviting the candidates to prepare and submit the bid (or to participate in a dialogue or interaction).
In two-stage processes, an issue can arise if there is a change in the composition of a bidding consortium between pre-qualification and the submission of bids. The RFQ should specify whether this is allowed, in what circumstances, and what consequences may follow. Some flexibility in consortium membership can be desirable to enable a pre-qualified consortium to bring in additional organizations that can strengthen its bid. However, a consortium should not be allowed to continue in the process if its composition changes such that it would no longer be capable of meeting the pre-qualification requirements. The procuring authority should minimize the likelihood of changes in consortium membership by ensuring that there is not an unduly long period of time between pre-qualification and bidding.
Otherwise, the considerations regarding proper management of the pre-qualification process are the same in one- and two-stage tenders. In some two-stage processes, there is an added task of evaluating the qualifications in order to select a short list of candidates.
The main considerations relating to a proper qualification process (and also applicable to the evaluation process) are as follows.