Public sector authorities are giving an increased focus to IT solutions, data management and software services within procurement. Although many buyers will have an established internal resource, the scale and complexity of their operations require them to seek and enlist external support through a competitive tender process.
The current UK government has placed the development of tech and IT at the heart of its economic and bureaucratic strategy. A policy paper released by the Central Digital and Data Office in 2022 revealed plans to increase the UK technology industry’s overall value by £41.5 billion and create an additional 678,000 jobs by 2025.
This was supplemented by an official strategy issued by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in March, outlining strategic properties, priority technologies and priority actions ‘to address opportunities and challenges brought by rapid technological change’.
In this blog, we take a look at the types of IT solutions and data management tenders available, the public sector buyers looking for services and how to make initial preparations for entering the tender arena.
What type of IT, software and data management tenders are available
As many of our clients have found, the public sector can form a valuable component of your client base. As customers, government bodies have many legal obligations to be honest, transparent and adhere to prompt payment standards, minimising any risk. National IT firms such as Accenture, Phoenix Software and Softcat are providers to the public sector, in addition to many small- and medium-sized businesses.
A recent case study highlights our skill at working with clients to deliver key contract wins with public sector authorities. In addition to this project, we have previously supported clients with high-quality, winning tenders for the following buyers:
- Central government authorities, such as Crown Commercial Services
- Local councils across the UK, including London boroughs
- Universities and higher education institutions
- NHS trusts and integrated care boards.
- Cyber security support: penetration testing, compliance support and threat analysis/reporting for corporate IT networks.
- Environmental data management: modernisation of collection, quality assurance, analysis and reporting of environmental data.
- Integrated workplace management solution: consulting, software development, internet and support for comprehensive asset management.
- Software and computing engineering services: supporting and developing data control, data acquisition and cloud-based systems.
- CPS managed IT and network services: managed network and telephony services for a film and TV studio.
TechUK is a group which represents tech and IT suppliers to the UK government, with the majority of members currently engaged in service provision for contracts similar to those listed above.
How to prepare for bidding into the public sector for IT contracts
If you are new to the public procurement process, aspects of tendering can occasionally seem mystifying. There is a suite of complex portals to support electronic submissions, multiple attachments and appendices to complete, and lengthy contract specifications to read and digest before completing quality responses. It is therefore important to prepare in the following ways prior to entering the bidding process:
- Ensure you have knowledge of mandatory requirements: The processes in place from central and local government authorities are there to ensure that no bidder – including SMEs and microbusinesses – is at a competitive disadvantage, and is solely judged on pricing and quality. However, certain thresholds may apply, such as minimum annual turnover, insurance coverage and certifications such as ISO 27001:2022 or Cyber Essentials – it is important to be mindful of this when making a bid/no bid decision.
- Take note of all documents for a compliant submission: Make a list of all required elements of the submission, including appendices such as a certification of non-canvassing, prior to beginning the bid process. This will mitigate the chances of omitting any mandatory documents, which could potentially result in an automatic disqualification.
- Consider your USPs: By identifying what makes your organisation’s service provision different from your competitors, you will naturally begin to develop ‘win themes’ and areas you are best-positioned to deliver added value. Evidencing and developing USPs ahead of time will enhance the overall persuasiveness and competitiveness of your submission – which could prove the difference between a winning and losing bid.
By addressing the above, you will be in a good position to determine the overall suitability of an IT tender opportunity well in advance, leaving more time to dedicate to drafting, refining and perfecting quality responses.
What will IT tender questions include?
Due to variations in the overall size of contracts, scope of works and level of services required, it is not possible to predict exactly what questions IT and data management tenders will contain. Nevertheless, based on our experience completing responses for clients, the following topics may be applicable:
- Managing costs: As all public authorities are given a strict budget, managing overall price of works and mitigating potential increases – such as those rising business expenditures stemming from supply chain difficulties or surging energy costs – is paramount.
- Knowledge-sharing: Buyers will also want assurances you have the capacity to share data for relevant parties, such as other contractors. For instance, the Building Safety Act 2022 requires a ‘golden thread’ of secure digital information of qualifying assets – which is applicable to certain IT services, such as BIM.
- Customer service: With IT and data management solutions supporting critical services, such as NHS databases, evaluators will expect a responsive and flexible approach to customer service, including real-time communication and a 24/7/365 helpdesk where appropriate.
It is equally important to carefully scrutinise the wording of the question when drafting responses. It is often tempting to answer the question you think should have been asked, rather than the question buyers are actually asking. Ensuring your response aligns with all aspects of the question will ensure you stand a better chance of scoring full marks from evaluators.
Supporting you with tender opportunities
Our bid and tender writing team are highly experienced at completing persuasive, high-quality tender responses. We are experts at working with your team to understand and gather your technical knowledge in order to compile a winning bid for IT contracts.
If you have identified a tender opportunity which is suitable for you and would like to get in touch, our sales and marketing team are contactable at 0800 612 5563, or alternatively via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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