How to Win Construction Contracts

Bidding for construction contracts presents a significant opportunity for you to expand your business and increase your turnover.

Often, the work is right on your doorstep, and opportunities to bid for construction tenders will increase with the implementation of the new localism bill. This aims to force local authorities to seek out local companies to complete their contracts. Of course, there’s also a global market of private companies out there, just waiting for you to claim a slice of the construction contracts that are available.

This world of opportunity means you should consider carefully before writing a construction bid. Is the contract one that you really want to go for? You’d be well advised to concentrate your construction bid writing in areas that are the core strengths of your business. There will be other opportunities to open up new markets through word of mouth and other avenues. For construction bid writing, stick to what you know best and gather some great feedback for a job well done. That completed tender is then likely to lead to referrals for more varied work.

Tenders Direct is a useful place to seek out construction bids. This comprehensive database is easy to search in quite focused geographical and work-related areas, so you can easily see where the construction bid opportunities are.

We have partnered with Tenders Direct to offer you a bid management service tightly focused on your areas of expertise. Using our promotional code, you can save £150 on your registration fee.

Through our Bid Management Service, we can then manage your construction contract opportunities, assessing how each potential contract fits in with the scope of your business. We will then filter 10 or 20 Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs) per annum to you. This way, our bid management service saves you time and energy on hunting down construction bid writing opportunities – so you can concentrate on the work you really want to do.

On your behalf, having scoped out your best fit construction bid opportunities, we can help you through all the stages of the bid writing process. From our experience, if you use our full construction bid writing service, you can realistically expect to be short-listed for one in three construction tenders and win sixty per cent of those bids.

We hold a library of your key documents such as insurance and policies, which will need to be submitted for every tender. Using those, and in close consultation with you, we can complete the whole bid writing service for you.

You’re in charge. Having been presented with the construction tender opportunities we find for you, if you want to take over the bid writing process from there, you can. Alternatively, we can handle the entire process for you.

Our construction bid writers have over 15 years’ experience in procurement and other relevant disciplines. They are familiar with many of the organisations and individuals buying construction services. That makes them ideally placed to help you through every stage towards winning a construction tender, from the invitation to tender, right up to the final presentation.

Knowledge of the buyer is crucial to securing construction contracts. Buyers want to deal with contractors who fit in with their culture and who will follow their policies. As we know these buyers well, we can put you ahead of your competitors – with our team of experienced construction bid writers helping you to present your bid in a way that will score you highly in bid comparisons and demonstrate to buyers exactly why you are right for their job.

We are the UK’s largest tendering consultancy, which means we have the knowledge and expertise to help you win major construction contracts.

For professional bid management, to improve your win ratio, or for a full construction bid writing service, call Win That Bid on 0203 405 1850 or email us at hello@winthatbid.com.

OJEU opportunities: 2014 Thresholds & Limits

Proposal writers may have noticed that on the 1st January 2014 the EU published new public procurement financial thresholds. These will apply to all award procedures under the public contracts regulations 2006. With these recent changes, now is a good time to look at what the financial thresholds are and what they mean for proposal writers looking for opportunities.

The UK thresholds for public sector tenders under the latest regulations are:

  • Supply/Service contracts awarded by central government- £111,676.
  • Supply/Service contracts awarded by other contracting authorities – £172,514.
  • Works contracts – £4,322,012.

If the contracting authority wishes to enter into multiple contracts to fulfil the same requirement, then the value of those contracts will be aggregated together to decide whether it crosses the threshold. The rules are very specific about this: when offering public sector tenders contracting authorities must not enter into separate contracts below the thresholds in order to avoid having to apply the regulations.

If the value of a tender exceeds these values then it must be listed in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), which is a major source of public sector tenders for proposal writers. The OJEU is a very good resource for anyone looking for tender opportunities. Win that Bid can help you navigate through these complicated procedures.

Laying the procurement pipeline

New information has emerged from the Cabinet Office describing the £84bn ‘procurement pipeline’ planned for the next five years. Covering 18 business sectors, the pipeline lays out the government’s anticipated project needs over the next few years. Notices of this kind have been published since November 2011; the most recent announcement adds professional services, financial services, waste management, and fire services.

The government’s goal is to make it easier for companies to plan ahead, something that has traditionally been difficult for organisations working with the public sector. Skills gaps can be identified and dealt with earlier. Moreover, it is evidence of a laudable transparency in government spending that can only help improve processes and efficiency.

Back in April business secretary Vince Cable laid out the reasoning behind these plans. “Frankly, we’ve been too short-term in how we’ve done procurement in the past. Our key competitors in Europe already see procurement as an integral part of a proper industrial strategy and it’s time we did the same.” Recent procurement scandals and political rows have made it difficult for the government to prove it has any kind of industrial policy at all, and rather overshadowed the wave of initiatives, ideas and proposals streaming out of the cabinet office.

This initiative comes at a time when many businesses reliant on government contracts (especially those devoted to major infrastructure projects) are struggling. Construction giant Balfour Beatty recently issued a profit warning based on a dearth of major schemes, while a former Laing O’Rourke executive recently told the press that lack of infrastructure investment and planning in the UK would lead his ambitions elsewhere. Infrastructure schemes have fallen by half in the year to October, while £3bn of construction work is behind schedule or even entirely halted as a result of planning appeals. Friends and colleagues in the construction sector have sitting around waiting for suitable bids to emerge.

The Pipeline can give companies time to plan ahead which they might not have had before. Win that Bid’s vast experience in a number of sectors can help you make best use of that time, to be ready to grab the opportunities ahead.

Paying attention to EU procurement rules so you don’t have to

The Cabinet Office has released a Procurement Policy Note (PPN) discussing the latest results of negotiations in Brussels about changing the procurement rules which ultimately define public sector tenders. These EU rules can be a bit obscure and so it is interesting to get a window into the process and progress of these discussions.

There are a few specific areas of interest to bid writers within the document.

Reducing minimum timescales

The government has supported proposals to reduce the minimum timescales for responding to advertised procurements and preparing tender documents. So far a reduction from 40 to 35 days has been agreed upon, under the open procedure.

Increasing the use of self-declarations

Regular readers of this blog will have seen several articles about government initiatives (not to mention scandals and complaints from business) surrounding the length and requirements of public sector tender PQQ documents. The latest response is to increase the use of self-declarations, whereby only the winning bidder must submit documents and certificates proving their status, while self-declarations of compliance must be accepted by the procurement officers up to that point. This will be a welcome change for SMEs and smaller bidders, if it isn’t open to abuse.

Financial Requirements for SMEs

The Cabinet Office has continued to argue that SME business should be encouraged by breaking large bids into lots, at the discretion of the purchasing authority. It also wants to reduce the turnover requirements relative to contract size. Together with proposals in favour of “innovative public service delivery-agents” such as employee owned “mutual”, these are further moves in favour of diversifying the pool of bidders from which governments and public sector purchasing authorities draw their contracts.

The final results of these discussions will probably be adopted in early 2013. Win that Bid can help bid writers keep up to date with the latest public sector tender developments.

How will the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 change your bid?

There have been some recent changes in the way that public bodies can take social considerations into account when procuring public contracts. The new Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 aims to clarify the issue a bit.

The Act (applied to public service contracts) creates a statutory requirement for public authorities to have regard to economic, social and environmental well-being in connection with public services contracts and for connected purposes. However, the Act also states that these decisions must also be directly relevant to what is being produced in the first place. This is roughly equivalent to what the EU procurement regime already allowed for.

From the bid writer’s point of view, the main thing is to look at where the question of Social Value will come up in the tender writing process:

Before the public sector tender is issued: the contracting authority will try to identify non-commercial, social value considerations before they commence the procurement process. This will have a big impact on the technical specifications of the project that a bid writer should take into account.

In the terms of the Contract: if the contracting authority does decide it wants to place emphasis on a particular social need, it might include “special” conditions.

The selection stage: the contracting authority could well reject applicants who don’t meet the non-commercial needs of the contract. Bid writers should make sure that their bid meets those requirement.  For instance, the contracting authority might want to fulfil an environmental consideration and choose a company with a proven record in that area.

The Act states that the selection criteria must be non-discriminatory, proportionate and linked to the subject matter.

Need help writing a public sector tender? Contact one of our team today on 0203405 1850 and we can help.

Believe in your Corporate Social Responsibility policy!

The Carbon Disclosure Project, a non-profit devoted to encouraging more environmentally responsible practices in business has released a report on “supplier management”. In particular, it highlights the increasing willingness of companies to drop suppliers who don’t abide by their CSR policies or environmental promises.

There are several reasons for this. The first is arguably the desire of large companies to “greenwash” their image, particularly now that scandalous practices in offshore manufacturing (notably those effecting Apple in China last year) are becoming much less easier for multinationals to hide.

The other driving force is a growing awareness of the financial benefits of cutting emissions within their supply chains. Many large companies have achieved savings in their own internal systems but according to the UK Carbon Trust fewer than half of multi-nationals (40%) are addressing their “upstream” emissions, i.e those generated by their suppliers. Ultimately, rising energy and commodity prices mean that more efficient, sustainable practices will become ever more important in keeping costs down, and this will become important in private sector tenders.

Businesses writing tenders are being encouraged to optimise their logistical processes, focusing on reducing waste and improving their environmental practices, two activities which almost always complement each other. Private sector tenders will be looking for companies that accept the necessity of environmental corporate social responsibility and more importantly can prove that they have implemented their strategies. Win that Bid can help companies writing tenders make their CSR as relevant and attractive as possible.

Get Tender Ready with The TROC button today

What Does It Mean?

Get Tender Ready with the TROC todayCompanies that have passed the TROC (Tender Readiness Online Check) or otherwise prequalified to respond to large private or public sector invitations to tender may display this symbol.

What Does It Mean For Tendering Authorities And Procurement Officers?

Public Sector organisations should look for this symbol on SME company websites, because:
  • An SME company displaying THE TROC TENDER READY symbol is indicating that it has met the minimum criteria qualifying it to respond to a Public Sector tender
  • This means that the tendering body can confidently approach the company and invite them to participate in a procurement exercise.
  • Looking for the TROC TENDER READY button will help tendering authorities to meet the Government’s aspiration that ‘25% of public sector contracts should be awarded to SMEs’.

The TROC Tender Ready symbol is a private sector initiative, with no government funding or taxpayers’ money involved.

Companies who have successfully completed and passed a Public Sector PQQ or won a contract within the last TWELVE months should contact info@procurementconnection.org.uk to get their badge and press pack.

It’s up to the both the Private and Public Sectors, as well as the press and other media organisations, to raise awareness of the TROC Tender Ready symbol: it will help procurement officers to identify ‘Tender Ready’ busineeses and therefore help more SMEs to win Public Sector contracts.

Knocked out at PQQ stage? Learn how to get feedback

Writing a tender for the vast majority of public tender contracts in the UK will involve filling out a PQQ. There are plenty of suppliers eager to fill those tender contracts and so the contracting authorities use them to keep the number of tenders they look at manageable. This can raise problems for suppliers that we’ve discussed before.

However, even if you do provide everything requested by the PQQ , it’s still possible to get knocked out at this early stage. It isn’t always easy to find out why you’ve missed out on a contract at the tender stage, let alone the PQQs.  For this reason it is important to know what the regulations are.

Regular 29A of the Public Contracts (Amendment) Regulations 2009 states that a contracting authority must notify an applicant of exclusion from the process. Regulation 32 then clarifies that the contracting authority must provide reasons for this decision, including details of why successful candidates progressed.

It is important to ascertain what went wrong in a failed PQQ so you can use that information the next time you find yourself writing a tender. Win that Bid can help you analyse the feedback you received and help you seize the next opportunity.

What exactly does the buyer want?

When aiming for a tender contract it’s important to consider what the procurer wants from the contract. This is a vital part of winning contract opportunities.

Public and private sector organisations are putting a relentless focus on cost efficiencies. Many companies believe that the main role of their procurement team is to deliver cost savings and this will be a critical aspect of many contract opportunities.

However important these savings are, they may not be the only goal of the organisation. This is particularly true of companies that are looking to expand their business. They may wish to increase their productivity and competitiveness in the long term, by introducing new systems, methods or tools. Equally, they might want a new approach to a critical area of their business which appears to be failing.

The majority of procurement work involves SMEs. These companies do not always have the most effective procurement methods and so it is particularly important to communicate with them about the aims of their tender contract and discover what it they want now, and what they will want in the future.

Two Stage Tendering for Destination Builds

Perhaps the most crucial factors contributing to the success of a destination builds (tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, head offices) are location and design.  Once chosen, there’s not much you can do about location.  Design however, is a different matter.  Not only does it cause challenges throughout the initial fit out, over time the building will need to re-design to keep up to date.

There are four main methods of procurement and central to each is the responsibility of design.

1) Construct Only: This method sees the developer appoint a design team which will control all areas of design until the project is finished.  Once the design of the building is completed the developer will tender for a construction team.  This tender will be solely for construction duties and as bidding is for a finished design, tenderers can bid a lump sum.  The main advantage of this procurement process is that the developer retains control of design, vital to the owners. The contractor is also taking on less risk than a project that may still change so costs can be driven down.  However, this step by step process demands a lot more time than ones where building and design can overlap or coincide.

2) Design and Build: Design and build procurement involves the developer having their own design team which will begin the design process.  Then, once the design has reached a suitable stage, a design-build contract is issued.  The contractor who wins this contract will continue to develop the design, replacing the original team, while carrying out building works.  An advantage is that the work can begin earlier which will save the developer money.  It also limits the risk of extension of time claims due to design error.  There are some disadvantages.  Tenders will ask a higher price than Construct Only contracts, as they do more work.  Also, the developer loses design ownership key to the brand of the building.  It is possible for the developer to employ a team of design monitoring consultants but the opportunities for confrontation and crossed wires arise, as do more costs.

3) Two-Stage Tendering:  This can be seen as a adaptation to the Design and Build process.  It is sometimes thought of as more suitable for smaller, less complex buildings, but is increasingly popular.  This arrangement involves a contractor carrying out pre-construction work and assisting the developer’s design team.  It is usually let on a guaranteed maximum price basis.  When the design has progressed to a point where construction is able to begin, the developer will enter into either a construct only contract or possibly a design-build contract to complete the works.  The benefits of two-stage tendering to the developer involve retaining the all-important design control.  Also, as the developer has been able to engage the contractor early and obtain a fixed price for the second stage, this system provides cost and time savings.

4) Construction Management: With this system, the developer employs a construction manager as an advisor.  All works required throughout the building will be divided into packages and the construction manager will give guidance on the best way to do this.  The developer then enters into each separate contract while the construction manager oversees the process.  As everything is done under separate contracts, pre-construction works can begin while design is still being finalised.  When the design is finished one single contract can be issued for the rest of the works.  The main advantage to this method is the degree of control the developer keeps over the design.  The main disadvantage though, is that there is no single point of contact on the construction side.  Errors, queries and suggestions must involve tracking down the relevant contractor.  This is difficult for the developer and very unattractive to any lenders.  Previously, construction managers were assumed to have relatively little liability, as they are have no direct, contractual link with sub-contractors.  However, after the high profile Great Eastern Hotels case, construction managers and developers may view the arrangement differently.

Need tender writing or bid management assistance? Get in touch 0203 405 1850 or email hello@winthatbid.com