When tendering for contracts in the public sector, or when beginning to consider what options are available, the first step is to identify suitable contract/tendering opportunities and keep up to date with the current market. This will enable you to create a bid/no bid plan based on what tenders are available, and which ones are suitable for you.
Finding and monitoring tender opportunities
Public sector organisations are legally obligated to release tenders for goods and services for organisations to bid for fairly and transparently, with over 1,000 contract notices released each month.
All tenders are publicly available to view and access free of charge on sites such as Find a Tender, Contracts Finder, and Public Tenders Scotland as well as local government sites and portals so that you can access new bid opportunities. Tendering and securing contracts is a great way to grow your business in a sustained, controlled way, and by following this simple process you will remain aware and responsive to opportunities, making the most of the limited timeframe to produce a high-quality tender submission:
- Monitor the relevant online portals for contract notices; for example, if you are working/operating in and around London, registering your interest with London Tenders Portal would be a good first step.
- Sign up for alerts – when creating a login, you can set clear search parameters based on the industry and location, using keywords/phrases to further narrow your search.
- Review and assess suitable contract notices that your company may wish to bid for. Don’t just look at the title. Often once you begin reading the tender documents and the specification the scope may be slightly different to your initial thoughts. Reviewing the pricing documents is also a quick and effective way to gauge what is involved.
- Select a contract notice and register your company’s expression of interest using the specific details.
- Follow the instructions and submit your tender to the buyer.
As a national bid writing consultancy, we keep a close eye on the market to keep well informed of contract awards and opportunities for our clients – if you are interested in receiving notifications of tender opportunities, contact us today to discuss how we can help.
Checking the relevance of tender opportunities
A contract notice should include the awarding body, the contract value (often approximate as you will need to submit a pricing document), key CPV codes, any lot structures and a short description of the tender opportunity.
In our experience the information can sometimes be quite limited, but by registering your interest with the buyer (or the portal) you will be able to access the full documents and double-check that it is a relevant contract opportunity for your organisation. You will be evaluated on your tender submission, your price and your narrative responses to portray why you are the most suitable company for the contract in question. It is therefore important to remember that just because you receive specific tender notices and alerts via email it does not necessarily mean that they are right for you, but rather fit your search criteria.
You should always review the notice and the supplementary documents in detail to check that it is relevant, and you are confident in your ability to submit a quality bid with a good chance of winning. If it is not something that is 100% relevant to your business it should be a ‘no bid’, as it is likely a competitor will be a better fit and will therefore be awarded the contract.
Checking the minimum requirements for the tender opportunity
Once satisfied that the tender is something you are interested in bidding for, you should then check to make sure you meet the minimum requirements or financial thresholds set out in the tender documents before you go any further. Failure to do so will see that your submission is discounted as non-compliant and your time preparing the submission will be wasted.
It is therefore important to check that you are eligible to bid for the contract and there are no barriers to entry for your company. The typical requirements a buyer will outline are around:
- Minimum turnover
- Financial standards including required levels of insurance
- Industry-specific memberships such as Gas Safe, CQC registered, SIA membership etc.
- Experience – typically from the last three years evidencing your experience of successfully providing a similar service.
If you do not meet all the minimum requirements, your bid can be excluded as immediately categorised as a ‘fail’.
Bidding for contracts
Once you have sourced a suitable contract opportunity and undertaken the necessary steps, all that is left is to complete your tender document and submit it to the buyer.
Tendering for a contract takes preparation, organisation and attention to detail. There will typically be a number of documents in your tender pack from the buyer – it is important to take time to read and understand all of them before starting to respond to the tender itself. Failure to complete a required document can result in your bid being discounted so take the time to read through everything, create a checklist, and monitor everything through to completion.
Each contract is different, and will have a specification document to advise exactly what the buyer is looking for – your tender response must be in line with this specification and easily address all the evaluation criteria. Keep in mind you are trying to score the most marks possible, in order to win the contract.
For support in tendering for a contract, contact our team of professional bid writers, who can offer advice at any stage of the process. We assist clients in identifying the right contract, the bid/no bid decision and ultimately, and most importantly, the writing of the tender document to submit your bid.
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