Are You Ready To Bid?

With £238bn in the pot you should be!

It’s a cliché but if I had a pound for everyone I met who had tried to tender for business and had failed then I would surely be a millionaire! Well, maybe not quite a millionaire but I’d certainly be able to bag a few more holidays with the family.

So why do so many companies take valuable time out of their working day, most probably sacrificing the evenings and weekends too, in order to prepare a tender that is destined to fail? Would you apply for a mortgage if you didn’t have a job? No, precisely.

It might be that an opportunity came along last minute and you knocked a few paragraphs together that you really did think read OK. Or perhaps you suffered from a spot of repetitive hand movement as you picked up and put back down again (several times over) the tender document because you just didn’t quite understand the questions of what the buyer needed. Sound familiar? Like a broken record…

So let’s scrape away all of the jumbled uncertainty and start again with a fresh board and let’s ask “are you ready to bid?”

The public sector currently outsource, by tender, around £238bn worth of business to the private sector every single year. And there’s no sign of this amount being squeezed any time soon, especially when the government is shrinking the size of the public sector. There are no guarantees in winning tenders and there are most certainly no quick wins. But there are many ways to properly prepare and influence an improved chance for a positive outcome. If you get it right, tender bidding can be an excellent marketing channel to grow your business.

Let’s chalk up some essential questions on the board that you need to answer.

1.     Where can I look for tender opportunities?

Your first quest would be to find where to look for tender opportunities such as the government’s Contract Finder portal and CompeteFor which lists supply chain opportunities. Compile a list.

2.     Have I got the right core documents in place?

Once you understand where to find opportunities and have taken the time to review them, you will have an idea of the size and frequency of contracts published that your business can fulfil. The next stage is to ensure you have the correct documentation required in order to meet even the basic criteria of the tender requirements. You will need to be proficient in reporting company data and complete profiles, have up-to-date financial information and be fully compliant with insurance cover to name but a few.

3.     Are my policies and procedures good enough?

One key area where so many businesses fall down is ‘policies and procedures.’ Without the correct processes in place to manage stakeholder interface with quality standards, health and safety, environmental management, and equality and diversity it’ll be like trying to finish a jigsaw with no edge pieces – impossible to complete.

4.     Do I know the golden nuggets that can maximise my chances of winning?

OK great, so once you know you have ticked the box for all of the above, how confident are you in understanding the whys and wherefores in writing a tender in the language of Tender Tsar?

The who I hear you ask? The Tender Tsar is how I affectionately refer to the tender evaluator. He or she is like a God when it comes to your tender application. And if you don’t speak their language, no matter how well you have conformed to questions 1-3 above, you may fall down at the last hurdle. Plus, there are a few more golden nuggets, as I call them, which can offer extra bid brownie points.

Much of this language and positive persuasion will come down to an understanding of the Public Sector Procurement Regulations 2015, which came into force in February 2015. Please don’t be put off by familiarising yourself with the legislation because their main aim is to make public procurement more accessible to small businesses.

The key to all this is to never be complacent, especially if you’re the incumbent supplier, when it comes to tender applications. Always prepare well in advance as opportunities rarely come when you’re on a quiet lull and ensure that your bid compels the Tender Tsar!

I may have thrown a few quirky alliterations and synonyms into this article but rest assured, tender writing is not born of fluff. It is a serious and structured sales process that takes time and commitment and can be very competitive. On the flip side though, if you’re getting good at tender writing, you’ll stand more chance of getting good at building a profitable business.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be providing a regular series of articles to help you prepare a tender bid to best effect.

If you feel you are ready to step up to the table with tender bidding but need a little help along the way, then please contact me for a non-obligation chat. I welcome the opportunity to support your business and can offer a FREE tender readiness review – contact me today.

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