Public sector tenders have long been a popular choice for large businesses. That being said, the government has recently taken steps to make sure public sector tenders are becoming even more open to SMEs too.
With large corporations and SMEs both increasingly able to benefit from government contracts, the prospect of growing your business via public tenders is a tantalising one.
If obtaining more public sector contracts is a key part of your business development strategy, we’ve put together this guide to help set you on the right track.
What are public sector tenders?
Public sector tenders are contract and framework opportunities published by public sector organisations for goods, services, utilities and all other works. They give businesses the chance to competitively bid to provide goods or services to central and local government bodies.
Public sector tenders can provide large and small businesses the opportunity to bring in new revenue streams with very secure contracts and favourable payment terms. We discuss what public sector tenders actually are in more detail in our comprehensive guide.
The government has a genuine goal to make public sector contracts more accessible to more businesses. For example, the Government has recently stated that tenders below the GPA threshold* can be reserved by local bidders, opening up more opportunities for SMEs. Now could be the ideal time to explore how your business can benefit from government tenders.
*The GPA threshold is the Government Procurement Agreement. It governs public procurement through a set threshold that determines how much is spent on certain contracts and where it needs to be advertised as a result.
Where can I find public sector tenders?
Finding details of public sector tenders has become more straightforward over recent years. You can find them through:
The use of our efficient and comprehensive software Tender Pipeline.
Contracts Finder for all UK tenders.
Find a Tender Service for EU tenders and high-value UK contracts.
Contracts Finder lets you search contracts across a variety of different industries, find out what’s up-coming and familiarise yourself with historic public procurement tenders and contract awards.
Tender Pipeline is our unique software that allows businesses to search for public tenders with ease. It narrows searches down by location and contract type and will send you alerts to relevant tenders, making it far easier to use and manage than other tendering portals.
At Thornton & Lowe, our expert tender and procurement consultants can assist you in producing a bid that has the best chances of success and helps you to secure lucrative contracts.
Our tender consultants train over 1,000 delegates on bid writing each year, so have plenty of experience and expertise in bid and tender writing and consultancy.
Public Sector Tender Consultants
Our tender consultants can help to guide you through the public sector tender process, helping you to understand how public tenders differ from private and what will be expected of you by awarding bodies such the NHS, local Councils and Government.
If you work within public sector procurement, we can assist in helping to improve your current bid writing and proposal strategies using our vast range of knowledge of the industry and the demands from public authorities when tendering.
Tender documents for public sector tenders
One of the most important things here is to follow and manage the tender process correctly. Sloppiness at any stage is a sure-fire way to throw away your bid. You need to understand the tender document through and through and most importantly, identify the key points to make your proposal writing stand out.
Tender documents aren’t just a form-filling exercise. If you’re completing your bids properly, they will turn into a powerful piece of sales literature. It’s important that you share the content needed to sell the reasons as to why your business deserves the contract.
Blow your own trumpet about previous success with public sector work. If any of the work was local, even better.
Detail how you supported similar contracts.
Explain what specific and measurable results were achieved.
Get prepared with the right accreditations, such as ISO:9001 for quality management and ISO:14001 for environmental management.
If you’d like more information on bid writing and winning tenders, you can look at our ultimate guide to bid writing.
How to win public sector tenders
The UK Government’s target is to aim for 33% of procurement spend to go to SMEs by 2022. Increased accessibility to contract and supply chain opportunities will also result in increased competition; therefore, it is more critical than ever to deliver a competitive bid which stands out from the competition.
The prospect of bidding for government contracts can be daunting for many SMEs as the perception is that these contracts are notoriously difficult and the opportunities are only awarded to bigger, more established businesses.
Writing a public sector bid
You need to follow a particular set of steps in order to get the best chances of success in securing public sector contracts.
Understand the contractFirstly, it’s important that you understand what the contract is asking for to be certain that you can fulfil the requirements. It needs to be cost effective for your business to do and you need to be able to meet any additional needs, such as the public body wanting a local supplier or heavily considering environmental impacts.
Include all relevant detailsA bid document needs to be thorough and clearly respond to the tender invitation. It should include:- Your experience- Deliverables- Pricing- Your team- How you could best perform the service/supply the goods asked for- Why you should win the bid
Write a winning bidOnce you have the relevant details, you need to put them together in a well-written, sector focused bid. Your bid should focus on the awarding authorities requirements and justify your pricing with details about your work, the team and your value.You will also need to be certain that your bid follows the correct format and includes all necessary details; otherwise, you may not even be considered.
Tips on how to win public sector tenders
By using these simple tips alongside creating an effective bid, you will maximise your chances of success:
Decide on your route to market – You need to decide how you are going to approach public sector tendering. Are you going to sell directly to the public sector or work to become a strategic supplier?
Find opportunities – The single source of government contracts valued at above £10,000 is the online platform Tender Pipeline. The public sector procures everything from toiletries to tax advice, all within one website.
Take a Bid Writing workshop – New markets require a detailed knowledge and understanding of the procurement process and as such, the need for bid/tender training at all levels is growing.
Build your bidding experience – You may not win your first bid, but dedicating the time to bidding for more contracts and getting to know buyers will set you on the path to success.
Develop a suite of documents – In the bidding process, you’ll be required to provide documents such as health and safety policies, equality statements, insurance levels and proof of accounts. It’s wise to have these documents up to date and in one place to speed up the application process.
Seek feedback – Ask for feedback from buyers whether your submission is successful or unsuccessful.
How Thornton & Lowe can help you with public sector tenders
To win public sector tenders, you have to be committed to the process. Public sector procurement is tough. The completion of tender documentation is a skill that’s hard to get right; as is managing the overall tender process and presenting the tender, potentially face-to-face, to secure the work. Only experience will help you to get these critical factors right first time.
The opportunities available with public sector tenders are great. However, if you need any consultancy or training to maximise your ability to win public sector contracts, you can always get in touch with our team of experts for a free appraisal today.