1/6 - Using External Support

Using External Support,  you need to understand some of the key considerations of commissioning third parties.

This task focuses on the consideration of commissioning and working with external service providers when, for example, human resources are stretched, when your organisation has a lack of experience, or when you need to receive independent feedback or any specialist know-how connected to the project design, costings or fund raising aspects of your plan.


 It consist of 3 tools:

  •  Tool 1 is a Template for a call document
  •  Tool 2 is a Template for organising the administrative process of commissioning       providers
  •  Tool 3 is a table with assessment criteria and scoring system







You can find here an empty template with the 3 tools (in Excel format).

Who is this tool for ?When should the tool be used?

Funding Strategy Coordinator/Team

Application Writing Leader

Selection Panelists


When in the process of commissioning and managing external service providers.


Click on the stations to navigate throught the Inventory line!

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Key challenges of the step

  • The need to organise, manage and coordinate the external service provider reduces the expected human resource efficiencies of commissioning the work.
  • The assessment and selection process of the preferred bidder needs to be conducted as objectively as possible. A balance needs to be achieved between high levels of experience and the ability to work well with you.
  • Everyone involved in the assessment and selection process needs to be fully aware of the assessment criteria and the scoring system. If people fail to understand how scores are defined and what you are looking for from the provider, the quality of the selection process will be low.
  • The composition of the selection panel should not be dominated by an individual, each panel member needs to have the freedom to express their thoughts.
  • Establishing a close working relationship with the external service provider is essential. There is a need for regular meetings to provide the necessary briefing about the project, to share relevant information and to ensure that the service provider is producing the outputs you are expecting. Efficient communication and good coordination skills are required by your organisation to benefit most from your provider.

Main risks

  • If you don't coordinate and manage the external service provider well, the risk of losing control of the commissioned task is high and the end result might not be as you expected.

Helpful tips

  • Although desireable, there is no need for each member of the Selection Panel to read, assess and score all of the submitted tenders. This is particularly the case when you have received a lot of tenders. In this case, divide them up and allocate a more manageable number of tenders to each Panel Members, while ensuring that each tender is read by at least two panelists.
  • The best role for external service providers is to provide a hand-holding service to you whereby the external service provider is offering feedback, training, and advice to you whilst you are actually doing the work. In this way, you and your team will gain know-how and build capacities for similar tasks in future.
  • Once commissioned, the external service provider needs to be thoroughly briefed about the background and context of the task. Frequent meetings with relevant members of staff will need to be held to ensure that the third party is well informed about the project and you about his/her work.
  • A further excellent role for the involvement of third parties is to undertake the review or pre-appraisal of a final draft funding application. This will ensure that your application is pre-assessed by an experienced outsider. In this case, take greatest care that the external service provider has an in-depth knowledge of the fund and the assessment criteria of the funder.
  • Managing external service providers usually requires a dedicated allocation of human resources.


Further resources


To go further on this topic, we recommend you to have a look at the URBACT Online Course on Public Procurement, which you can find here