The STEP tool has been in use for the past few years as a procurement aide for both trusts purchasing IT systems and suppliers of those systems.
A review of the tool conducted in January-February 2012, in collaboration with Intellect, indicated a very low usage of the current application and a general lack of awareness of the need to specify conformance to information standards within procurement documentation.
Reasons for the low usage included the need to register to use the tool and the lack of integration with the e-procurement systems and hubs that tend to drive the majority of NHS procurement.
In view of the low usage, the STEP tool closed at the end of March 2012. The STEP email address closed at the same time.
In addition, the ISB maintains a set of questions that can be used by purchasers putting together, e.g. pre-qualification questionnaires. These are based on the original questions within the STEP tool, updated to reflect the national approach to the development of information standards, i.e. the use of standard numbers and the incorporation of conformance criteria within standard specifications. This has allowed us to simplify the questions.
We will update guidance and questions on a regular basis, to reflect the publication of new standards and feedback from our users. You can send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org