I imagine that in a good Science fiction, one portal to get to Mars would be quite enough. Any more than that and they'd become like buses - multiple routes available but only one that goes exactly to your destination from your start point and at the right time.
So why, when it comes to obtaining tenders, are there so many ‘portals’ to choose from? Surely one is enough, as long as it contains everything you need in one place.
The multitude of tender portals available to businesses in the UK alone is overwhelming. And they don’t all have the same tenders on offer either. Solutions for Business sets the tone on it’s website by offering a ‘by no means exhaustive’ list of public sector tender portals. They are right, there are many more, and yet they manage to list fourteen of them!
The fact that some are paid sites, some are free, some are regional, some sorted by industry and some a rough overview makes the landscape of tender portals confusing. Add to that that some portals are charging huge fees and yet acting like an official, government site then it seems there is a real need need for a so-called ‘one stop shop’ for tender listings. The Financial Mail on Saturday reported that the Department for Business is currently investigating supplygov.co.uk, a portal that sounds a little too similar to supply2gov.uk, the former official public sector contracts portal. It is also alerting businesses to the fact that these portals are not official and that the information is freely available elsewhere.
Which is why, once and and for all, the Government have taken the issue in hand, closed down supply2gov.uk and attempted to developed a one stop shop in the form of Contracts Finder (www.contractsfinder.businesslink.gov.uk). Apart from the unwieldy and unintuitive web address, Contracts Finder is set to be a real gem. It is to undergo continuous improvement rather than be abolished if it doesn’t quite cut the mustard first time round. It is free, it aims to have all public sector tender opportunities available at the touch of a search button and publish contract documents for closed tenders for information.
For all of it’s plus points, it is unlikely that Contracts Finder will be able to take over fully as the only place to find tender opportunities. Portals like NEPO (North East Purchasing Organisation) and Bluelight are industrially or regionally specialised and cater for a specific market. Providing that the team behind Contracts Finder ensure that tenders published on these sites are also available to Contracts Finder users, then both have a place. It is finding opportunities on one site and not on another that devalues any attempt to simplify the problem – luckily, overcoming this problem is the whole reason that Contracts Finder was developed in the first place.
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