Smaller Companies Can Succeed When Responding to Public Sector Tenders
About a third of the UK’s public spending goes through a procurement process. At last estimation, annual procurement totaled £357bn, and a significant portion of that sum is won by providers classified as SMEs.
After successfully responding to a tender, being awarded a large contract can be a turning point in a company’s journey, yet tendering for public sector contracts can be a scary business to begin with. The days of filling out soulless forms that don’t allow companies to convey their values are long gone. Public sector buyers take a great deal more into account when they review bids and award contracts; questions now extend well beyond a company’s finances. In short, with the right value proposition for the right tender, the SME’s chances of success can be better than fair.
Why go public?
There are several advantages of working for public sector organisations rather than private companies. The first is the central government’s objective that a third of all procurements should be won by small enterprises – that weighs the balance in favour of the sector, plus, there are plenty of contracts out there that can only be won by the small outfits.
Tendering processes have to be transparent by law, so companies know there are no “done deals” where existing providers are favoured. That same transparency also means that a smaller business can plan capacity carefully and ensure that order books remain both healthy and within the company’s capabilities.
And finally, it’s the law that accounts have to be settled in 30 days. That’s perfect for SMEs, where cashflow is often critical.
It’s a size thing
Small businesses can easily spend hours looking through notices from public sector organisations, looking for opportunities they feel resonate. The closer each tender’s requirements to a company’s abilities, the better the chance of a win, but for SMEs, there’s rarely time to commit to a wide search.
Unfortunately, to find the best-fitting opportunities, it’s important to be able to commit to broad searches. That’s because there’s a lot of fuzziness surrounding the classification and titling of opportunities. Time-starved public sector organisations will often mis-categorise an opportunity or simply use a general category – no wonder, given over 9,000 categories under which to publish each tender.
Titles too can lead to companies reading deeply into unsuitable contract opportunities. Sometimes, the publishing bodies will use a generic title or even one that’s autogenerated by ‘bot.
Hand-sorting through the 500+ sites where contract opportunities are published is a monumental task, one that’s often confused by alert services that use algorithms to scrape website texts. Instead of targeted results, many SMEs will get a range of so-called opportunity notices each month that include many of the ridiculous and relatively few of the sublime.
In short, there’s a good chance that small businesses interested in public sector work won’t see the opportunities that are most suited to them, and if they do, those will be amid dozens of left-field, automatically-generated suggestions.
Teaming up for the win
The business opportunities inherent in the public sector procurement process are, however, significant, and many companies can and do get very positive results. The key to the conundrum of searching for and winning contracts presented to the SMEs lies in seeking out a partner capable of guiding and supporting.
By sourcing the right platform, with the right expert company behind it, small businesses can avoid the pitfalls of sifting through the wrong offerings, not looking in the right places, and trying to respond to unachievable deadlines.
Acting alone, any company could, given enough time, overcome these obstacles themselves. But as in any business, time represents the biggest cost sink. Using Proactis’ Tenders Direct service frees up that most valuable resource from companies working hard to progress procurement deals.
It’s a company with a service that’s based around its people: experts in the field with a fluent grasp of the complexities involved in negotiating the public procurement marketplace. Its team of specialists review every opportunity to identify each specific requirement, so what’s presented to the time-poor SME is pertinent, relevant – and importantly – achievable.
Tenders Direct’s staff take the time to understand each of their clients, ensuring that the curated offerings are free of distracting chaff that can muddy the waters of even the most experienced business that’s been pursuing contracts from the public sector for years.
And for the company that has an established a track record of successfully winning contracts, the Proactis team helps the chosen professionals hone their skills with detailed and focused insights on how to increase their win metrics.
Sometimes, it takes an expert eye to read between the lines to determine what the contracting organisation wants. For the contracts that are too complex, or when there’s lack of resources to complete a bid on time, its team of seasoned consultants can help write and manage tenders. When winning a contract could be that turning point for any company, wouldn’t reliable support be invaluable to ensure responses are spot on?
In the next article in this series, we’ll be taking a deeper look at some of the details of tender applications, find out some of the common pitfalls, and back up those points with empirical evidence.
But for now, from identifying new opportunities, building a relationship with public sector decision-makers, filling a sales pipeline, to lining your application ducks up in a row, reach out to Tenders Direct for a trial of its platform. It’s a partnership for success.