In these uncertain times, we’ve had several contacts ask us how they can win more public sector work. Public sector contracts generally offer more contract and payment security than the private sector especially since new government initiatives to ensure on-time payments to suppliers continue (see Action Note PPN 02/20).
The government have also updated procurement policy, to allow key goods, services and works to be procured quickly (see Action Note PPN 01/20). Rather than using the traditional procurement procedure, the public sector buyer (i.e. central government, public bodies, local authorities, NHS organisations, educational bodies etc.) can now award work through shortened/accelerated procurement procedures, allowing bidders to secure public sector contracts quickly. Below, we’ve set out the key changes and, crucially, what you should do to take advantage:
Direct award – Without going through a tender process, the contract is awarded directly to a provider who can demonstrate value for money. Buyers can also use existing suppliers to provide additional services, or extend current contracts.
- Proactively contact buyers you could provide to
- Make sure your website is up to date in case they’re looking for suppliers
- Make current clients aware of your full service offering
- Confirm your willingness to participate in a contract extension if required.
Framework or DPS call-off – Many buyers will be encouraged to make use of current frameworks and DPSs to speed up the procurement process. Call-off procedures will still be followed.
- Get in touch with your framework/DPS manager and make sure your contact details, prices, and service offerings are up to date
- Ensure you’re set up to receive an alert if you’re selected to participate in a call-off
- Ask for a list of buyers who use the framework/DPS and proactively contact them
- If you’re not on a framework/DPS, search for ones that match your offering and apply! DPSs can be applied to at any time and are usually straightforward.
Short deadline tenders – For high-value tenders, the required 30 days to respond can be reduced to 14 days. For low-value tenders, the response time doesn’t change (i.e. any time the buyer chooses!). Expect a lot of short notice tenders, especially for goods, service and works such as healthcare products and temporary centres, remote working/cloud-based solutions, consultancy, and to fill gaps in the supply chain.
- With short notice tenders you need as much time as possible to respond, so finding opportunities early is key; check portals and tender alerts daily.
- If you’re too busy to look every day, try a search service like ours, where someone else will do the legwork
- Bid smart – don’t bid for everything and anything. Qualify your bid decision and once committed, give it 100%.
New Year’s resolutions for bidders
Yes, it’s a bit of a dry topic – January and tendering – however, the public sector spends £200bn via procurement every year (25% of this is awarded to SMEs) and billions are spent on private sector contracts through formal tender processes, so it’s a subject that’s well worth thinking about.
Here are some resolutions you can make that will help you secure more clients and contracts through tendering – and unlike the 80% of resolutions the nation gives up on by February, you’ll be able to maintain these all year!
Resolution 1: I will actively look for opportunities
There are 1000s of public sector tender opportunities published every week.
You can access all public sector opportunities for free via websites and portals such as Contracts Finder, ProContract, Delta, and In-Tend; once registered, you’ll be able to create ‘alerts’ which send sector-specific opportunities to your email.
If you don’t have time to look, paid services will save you time and effort in searching by ‘short-listing’ opportunities based on location, contract value, and sector.
Resolution 2: I will not bid for everything
If your approach is to bid for as much as possible hoping that you’ll win something, then it’s time to turn over a new leaf – not only is this a massive waste of time and resources (i.e. money!), it’s demoralising for your team.
Instead, before you bid, ask yourself: ‘Can I deliver what the buyer wants?’, ‘Can I deliver it profitability?’, and lastly (but crucially) ‘Do I have a winning proposal when compared to my competitors?’.
Only if you can answer a resounding ‘yes’ to all three should you go ahead. This strategy allows us to consistently achieve win rates of >80% for our clients, and is the tip that our workshop attendees rank as most useful.
Resolution 3: I will be organised
Though a tender can be completed in a couple of days, if you start working on it just before the deadline it’s unlikely you’ll have the time to write a winning tender. Your competition will have a massive head start, and you probably won’t have time to collect the case studies and evidence that would set your tender apart from other bidders.
And if you can’t submit a winning tender, what’s the point?
View each bid as a project; give it a leader and get them to own it. As soon as possible, start delegating sections to key contributors, and ask any clarifications. It’s common to underestimate the time and effort required to write a winning bid by 50% – so whatever you think it is going to take, double that figure!