Common issues for companies looking to get involved in tendering
Tendering for public sector business can open up a world of opportunities for new start-ups and SME’s, in all of its various forms. The composition of documentation, from simple Requests for Quotation right through to multi-million-pound opportunities going through the full OJEU tender process, can have a profound effect on the ability of firms to tap into this market, in terms of resource, time and capability.
So what are the key factors holding companies back from getting involved within the public-sector market, and what are the key ways to combat them?
- Guarantee: there is NEVER a guarantee that any company will be successful in winning public-sector business, and this fact tends to put off those companies who would have to invest scarce time and resource to complete documentation, even for smaller contracts. No tender services company worth their salt will ever provide such a guarantee, and so the choice to begin tendering represents an investment in the development of bids over time. This is not to say, of course, that companies cannot win their first tender. There are examples of immediate success available right across the country in a huge array of sectors, but this is by no means something that happens by accident.
- Uncertainty: sometimes the will is there to get involved, but a read through the Standard Selection Questionnaire or ITT document leaves the reader with a sense of uncertainty as to whether they can either put in a compelling submission or, in some circumstances, what the specification for the expected goods or services actually is! For the first of these, I would tend to trust gut feeling and wait for a more obviously suitable tender opportunity to come along, instead of using valuable time on a bid in which your uncertainty may come across. Where there is an issue with the specification, it is ALWAYS best to seek guidance from the tendering authority prior to a decision being made. Most tenders will have a method identified for asking questions and authorities usually see it as in their interests to respond in a timely fashion.
- Technical: this can cover anything from lack of required accreditation or insurances through to inability as a new firm to provide case studies or evidential information on past contracts and successes. Whilst it is true in some respects that technical deficiencies within a bid may mean a fail, the revised Public Contracts Regulations 2015 do contain measures designed to counteract these issues where possible. Make sure to keep your company’s information up to date on a regular basis, even if you are not actively tendering for business, because if that all-important tender does appear it is best to be ready! Remember also, that the importance of social value in tenders can sometimes be a distinguishing factor, with some tenders now awarding up to 15% to suppliers local to the area of contract delivery, and those who are active in their efforts at community engagement and other social factors.
Even for large companies, there are always reasons not to go for a particular tender, but the key is to establish effective decision-making processes and ensure that you understand the likely requirements for a compelling bid within your industry.
For more information on any aspect of tender, call Courtney Tender Services on 0151 601 6263