If you want to take advantage of the opportunities available in tendering to supply goods and/or services to the public sector for your business, then you may find the following hints and tips useful:
Initially target smaller tenders: Aim for opportunities under £100,000 (potentially rising to £173,934 in 2014) where the Government has abolished Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs). In practice, you may initially find it difficult to commit the time and resources necessary to complete and submit PQQs as well as not having established practices and policies in place which need generally to be provided, and so smaller tenders will avoid this issue.
* Take time to understand fully the terms of the tender: Ensure that you are familiar with the processes, requirements and success criteria of the tender. The more time you spend understanding the tender and its requirements, the better your submission will be, and the greater likelihood you will be successful. If you are unclear, then seek to clarify the position with the contracting authority.
* Keep up to date with current and future opportunities: Sign up for email alerts on Contracts Finder; monitor sites that give prior notice of such opportunities, and register your interest in future procurements. Attend information days and public sector 'product surgeries' and register for the Government eMarketplace. Also, look out for advance notices of projected procurement pipelines from target contracting authorities.
* Fine tune your tender: If your tender submission does not effectively communicate your strengths, you will not be successful. Consider obtaining professional assistance if you are new to the public procurement process.
* Cite evidence in your tender: Use evidence wherever possible to substantiate claims made in your bid wherever possible and appropriate.
* Play to your strengths: Recognise that you are likely to be cheaper, more flexible and more responsive than bigger players, and show evidence that you offer value for money and local resource.
Woodfines' Commercial department has extensive experience helping clients in this area, understanding both the processes and the contractual terms required to help your business understand and ultimately succeed in the public procurement process. It will be a learning curve, but the benefits of prompt payment, regular opportunities and a whole new market may make the process worthwhile for your business and add to its growth and overall success.