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Published Date: 10-07-2024
Author: Ciaran Brass
Category: News & Insight
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Provisions within the text of the Procurement Act 2023 give clearer guidance and structure to planned procurement activity, strengthening bid pipelines for purchasing authorities and bidders alike.

After two rounds of consultation with public stakeholders and 18 months in the two Houses of Parliament, part of the changes to public sector procurement introduced by the Procurement Act 2023 includes greater engagement as part of pre-bid activity. This joins other initiatives and changes to legislation, including the introduction of a public debarment list and requirement to set and publish KPIs for eligible contracts.

With just over three months to go before the Act comes into force, this instalment in our ongoing series of blogs reviews Sections 15–18 of the Act and what this means for our clients and bidder organisations.

Pre-bid activity in the Procurement Act 2023

Central to Chapter 1 of the Act is a focus on engagement and involvement between suppliers and contracting authorities prior to a tender notice being released. By increasing the scope of pre-bid activity, buyers are looking to increase the quality and understanding of bidder organisations’ submissions – whilst also encouraging small- and medium-sized businesses to do more business with the government.

To achieve this, the Procurement Act 2023 encourages that purchasing authorities complete the following as part of the tender process:

  • Release of ‘planned procurement notices’ at least 40 days but not 12 months before the tender is published, replacing the current Prior Information Notice (PIN)
  • Preliminary market engagements with suppliers to develop and refine approaches to the procurement exercise, identify priority areas within the tender and build capacity amongst local suppliers, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses
  • Market engagement notices if the authority is choosing to conduct a market engagement as part of the tender exercise – allowing prospective suppliers to plan in advance of these
  • A new duty to consider lots within a tender if the goods, works or services cannot reasonably be delivered by a single supplier.

For prospective suppliers, enshrining established planned procurement activities within the Act will allow them to establish greater clarity around their bid pipeline. This will facilitate a more structured and measured approach to your bidding strategy, in addition to building capacity to manage multiple submissions simultaneously.

Establishing bid pipelines and planning ahead

Public sector procurement is fast-paced, with typically a four- to six-week window to submit for each contract. Consequently, it is crucial to maximise available time for each submission, ensuring an appropriate level of time and resource is dedicated to each bid. A rushed, last-minute tender submission is unlikely to do well with evaluators or lead to a contract award – underscoring the need for structured pre-bid activity and a bid pipeline.

Part of our bid and tender writers’ daily routine involves browsing Find a Tender and Contracts Finder to send relevant tender notices from prospective clients. This is our own method of supporting a strong bid pipeline for clients, ensuring they are aware of relevant opportunities as soon as possible. To ensure you have a strong bid pipeline in place prior to tendering for a contract, consider integrating the following approaches:

  • Take note of any current contracts which are expiring in the near future – tendering as the incumbent is often more time-consuming than bidders anticipate
  • Monitor the two government websites and portals (such as Public Contracts Scotland or Proactis) for publication of planned procurement notices, preliminary market engagements and tender notices
  • Participate in market engagements and other pre-bid activity held by the contracting authority – you can gain valuable information and insight from these sessions.

Anecdotally, we have already seen increased numbers of planned procurement and market engagement notices as part of contracting authorities’ procurement activity. This will only increase as the Procurement Act ‘go-live’ date draws near – implementing the above as best practice approaches will ensure you are making the most of pre-bid activity under the new procurement regime.

Our pre-bid and capture planning services

In response to the changes brought about by the Act and increased demand from our clients, 2024 has seen us introduce our pre-bid consultancy and capture planning service. Supporting organisations to create a more structured bid pipeline, the service is entirely tailored to the requirements of your organisation, although some elements may require

  • Developing key differentiators and ‘win themes’ to be deployed strategically throughout quality responses, emphasising the benefits of your organisation to evaluators
  • Capture planning and storyboarding sessions to anticipate questions which may be included as part of the tender, using previous versions of the bid where appropriate
  • Identifying priority areas for the authority through proactive research, previous experience and the nature of the opportunity
  • Formalising your bid pipeline by establishing proven bid management techniques we have developed across more than 7,000 SQ, PQQ and ITT submissions.

If you would like to learn more about our pre-bid consultancy support or and of the other bid and tender services we provide, our sales and marketing team are on hand for a free, no-obligation quotation and advice at or 800 612 5563.

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