Buyers are always advised to familiarise themselves sufficiently with the market situation at the start of the purchasing process. Only in this way is a realistic assessment of sustainable specifications possible with any likelihood of receiving such tenders. It cannot be repeated enough that the time a purchaser spends on thorough market research and on drawing up carefully considered specifications will nearly always benefit the rest of the procurement procedure. Potential problems can then be anticipated, the worst case scenario being having to repeat of the whole procedure. The market research can be conducted by asking potential suppliers about their range of sustainable products and services, researching on the internet, consulting catalogues and brochures, enquiring among environment or social experts at their own departments, or by contacting other public bodies, help desks or umbrella organisations. Here it is important to search for products or services that can be guaranteed by many sustainable companies (free market principle). It must always be clear for potential tenderers that the market research falls outside the actual public procurement procedure. This market research can also investigate whether the order allows competition from SMEs or community-based companies. Opportunities can be offered to these types of companies by reserving certain orders or by splitting them up into smaller parts. The various files in this guide contain concrete suggestions in the framework of the abovementioned explanation. Finally, in 2011 the Sustainable Development PPS carried out a study into the possibility of taking account of the total life cycle cost (LCC) of a product or service in public procurements. For more information click here.