Events that require a business to invoke its Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans are thankfully few and far between – but in bids you’re often asked to provide examples of when you’ve done just that.
A typical question asked in a tender is: ‘Please explain how you have ensured business and operational continuity and resilience throughout the life of similar contracts, in relation to both external and internal factors’. As with any answer you give in your bid, providing good, relevant examples really strengthens your response.
If you don’t have any examples of occasions when you’ve had to invoke your plan, this can leave you feeling a bit stumped – so a case study captured during events such as we’re currently living through can be an invaluable addition to your knowledge base.
If you’re finding ways to continue to run your business during the current unprecedented situation, then you’re enacting some form of business continuity process – and it’s well worth capturing the finer details while they’re still fresh in your mind.
Some points to think about to help you tell your story:
How was your business affected by COVID-19?
This will of course depend on what your business does. Perhaps you’ve had to cope with a fall in demand for your products or services, or you’ve had to close your building down and ask staff to work from home.
What measures have you put into place?
Detail what you’ve put in place to ensure you continue to meet your client/customers expectations. Again, these measures will be different for everyone; perhaps you’ve had to start using alternative suppliers, or set up a video conferencing account so you can hold your regular client review meetings virtually instead of onsite.
What results have the measures had?
What level of service are you still able to provide to your clients/customers? Have you managed to maintain your agreed SLAs? Try to include specific facts and figures that show the positive impact of the changes you’ve made.
You could also think about including detail on lessons learned; anything that you’ve had to do or put in place that you would use if a similar incident – or at least one that affected your business in a similar way – were to happen in the future.
If you’re keen to capture your case study story but you’d like some help, contact email@example.com.
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!
Halloween is here again, and while you’re probably not so scared of vampires and monsters anymore, there’s still something that might send a shudder up your spine – tendering.
What is it that’s so off-putting about tendering to the public sector? The most common reason we’ve found it that the whole process seems quite frightening, especially for businesses that are new to tendering.
We agree, bidding can be a challenge and will require time, energy and resources. However, if you’re up for the challenge, and you meet a few basic requirements, then tendering can be an extremely profitable.
With the right knowledge and guidance, you’ll find that tendering isn’t scary after all. Here’s some tips to bidding for the public sector:
Are you bid ready? You’ll need to evidence your finances, and be able to provide relevant case studies and references. Other than these, the only other real requirements are bags of enthusiasm and time to devote to preparing your submission.
Find tender opportunities Once you’re bid-ready, you’ll then need to find potential contracts to bid for. If you’re interested in bidding to the public sector, there are a wide variety of free registers e.g. www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk, but these can be quite torturous to navigate. You might consider using a paid-for search service (like our Search Service) to take the pain out of searching.
To bid, or not to bid… Having found a potential opportunity, ask yourself three fundamental questions: Can we deliver this? Can we present a winning case? Will it be profitable? Only if you can truly answer yes to each question, should you decide to bid.
Completing your bid Anyone who’s ever had the joy of competing in a public sector tendering process could be forgiven for losing the will to live after trying to wade through the ghastly amount of information requested. Here’s some tips to make this step as painless as possible:
- Don’t start until you’ve read everything – at least twice.
- Check you meet mandatory requirements – e.g. specific accreditations, minimum financial turnover, mandatory insurance levels.
- Understand the scoring system – so you know what is required to score top marks.
- Answer the question – it sounds obvious, but answer the question you’re asked, not the question you want to be asked.
- Answer all the questions – it’s so easy to inadvertently miss out a response requirement and miss out on points, or worse, be disqualified.
- Review – make sure your submission is as good as it can be. Oh, and definitely check for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors.
- Gathering feedback – You’ve finally submitted your bid, give yourself a pat on the back. Remember, you can’t win them all, so don’t expect success every time. Win or lose, ask for feedback on your bid.
‘Who ya gonna call?’
So, we’re not quite the Ghostbusters, but here at Onto the Page, we specialise in helping businesses find and win tenders (our win rate is over 70%).
Hopefully, we’ve helped demystify the tender process a little bit but if you’d like to know more, get in touch for a no-obligation chat. We will discuss any challenges you’re facing, answer any questions you have, and signpost you to services that will increase your success rate in tendering.
Believe us, once you have the right support, tendering really isn’t as scary as it seems.
Call me on 07591 206202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.