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.

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.

What should I put into the Executive Summary?

For bid writers writing a tender and aiming to make the best possible impression on the client, the Executive Summary is all important. It will almost certainly be used as the starting point of their decision-making discussions. For some of those decision makers, the Executive Summary will be the only part of the tender proposal that they actually read.

Because it will be read by virtually everyone who reads the proposal, the Executive Summary should be concise, readable and avoid technical jargon. Bear in mind that the readers are likely to be impatient and lacking in technical training, if not extremely stressed.

That being the case, bid writers should focus on the win themes that are the focus throughout the tender.  Keep it short and relevant. Resist the urge to simply summarise everything else in the tender proposal: you should already have a table of contents.

Finally, it is worth bid writers taking extra time to ensure that your executive summary is properly presented. It is vital to proof read it carefully, given its importance to the success of the tender proposal.

Questions to ask yourself before starting down the Tender Writing route

When about to embark on the long journey towards winning a tender, we think that these questions are important discussion points for your team.  Even if you think that the PQQ is quick to complete, this is only the tip of the iceberg.  To ensure that you are in the best position to win your next tender or proposal you must ask yourself these questions before beginning the tender writing process:
Can my company exactly match the buyer’s needs?
  • You may look at a contract and think that your company can do most of the work but if there are areas that it cannot manage, your chances of qualifying or winning are seriously reduced.
  • Limiting areas include specification, geographical location and coverage, mandatory accreditations etc.
  • Is the contract the right size for my business?
  • You shouldn’t bid if the contract value is more than 25% of your turnover. Buyers will be checking that the tender contract value does not exceed 20-30% of the tendering company’s turnover to be sure the contract value will not be too much for the company to handle.
  • The size of your company dictates the maximum size of contract it is likely to win.
Can I show relevant experience?
  • Buyers like suppliers who can prove they can do the job, therefore references from similar organisations for similar work are ideal.
  • If you haven’t got these, you will need to show you have ‘transferable skills’ from customers with similar needs.
  • If the work you are bidding for is not a ‘core competence’ (i.e. it represents only a small element of your company’s overall turnover) it can reduce your chances of success.
Has my company got sufficient trading history?
  • Public sector buyers generally ask for (audited) accounts from the last 3 years (although sometimes 2 years is enough). This means that start-ups are not always in the best position to win bids.
  • Has the business seen year on year growth and if not is there a valid explanation for why not?
Has my company got enough time and expertise spare?
  • Will this project clash with any existing or upcoming work?
  • Tender writing is time consuming – you will need to invest a significant amount of your time and resources to create a winning bid
  • Tendering can also be a daunting task, especially if you do not have the right skills or expertise readily available
Is it a Framework Agreement?
  • If it is, how likely are you to get work that will make your application worth it?
  • Will I have to subcontract?
  • If you do, are you sure that this is the kind of work you want?
  • How will the subcontracting part or parts of the contract be viewed by the client?
  • Can you demonstrate supply chain quality assurance is achieved?
  • What is your subcontractor recruitment policy?
  • Is there an effective management process for subcontractors?

If you are still not sure and need help with your tender writing then do call us on 0203 405 1850 to help you evaluate your next big opportunity.

Tender Writing: Creating compelling win themes

Creating a killer set of win themes can make the difference between success and failure when pitching your solution to a potential client.  Win themes are basically a set of marketing statements that should run through your proposal or tender writing.

When tender writing creating your win themes is the place to start. If you’re having trouble creating a strong win theme, try brainstorming the following potential issues facing your client:

  • What risk does your client most fear concerning this project?
  • Is there any red tape that your client is particularly concerned by? New legislation? Discrimination regulation? Noise pollution during construction? Archaeological excavation?
  • What special vision does your client have for the project? To what extent are they looking for quality, excellence and innovation?

Then make a list of the following:

  1. Imagine you are your client. Rank the concerns you have just brainstormed from the biggest to the smallest to create an issues list in order of importance.
  2. Next to each of these issues, brainstorm all the ways in which your project can offer a solution.
  3. Rank these solutions against your competitors’. Can you offer greater quality, reliability, efficiency, cost-effectiveness etc.?

You now have two lists, an issues list and a solutions list. Can you link the ideas near the top of each list?

The ideas from this process should enable you to find the main subject of a competitive and relevant Win Theme.

Having problems with your Win Themes and want to put together a killer presentation then give Win That Bid a call today.

Tender checklist – Reviewing you tender

Once you have written your tender the importance of reviewing it cannot be overstated.  Although you may feel sure that you have met all specifications these mistakes are among the most common reasons for bids being rejected.  Here is a checklist to help.

  • Be critical of what you have written, there is always room for improvement.
  • Make sure everything included is consistent.  When cutting and pasting text have any formatting changes arisen?
  • Have you used uniform and correct font, size and formatting throughout?  Does the style and order of your document meet with the requirements?
  • Seek written permission if you want to include any additional information about your company which is relevant and may help your bid.  Add these as appendices.
  • Number your paragraphs and ensure the accuracy of your contents page so everything can be easily located.
  • Create a front cover with the project title, date, name of organisation requesting the tender and the name of your own organisation.
  • Confirm that there are signatures wherever required, by the correct member of your company.
  • Once you feel sure that you have completed the document hand it to a colleague to check for spelling, punctuation, grammar and meaning
  • Consider getting the document professionally printed and bound if the client has requested it in hard copy.

How to Successfully Manage a Proposal

3) Proposal checklist – Writing your Proposal

Even though you’ve already spent a lot of time in preparation, writing the document is the most important part of the process.  Aside from the more general groundwork, it’s now time to think about the text itself.  Collating all the necessary information into an easy to read document that sells your company and its abilities is a difficult task, this checklist will help to organise your thoughts and guide you while taking on the job.

  • Keep sentences short and use easy to understand, effective language.  You can use bullet points and headings to make the text easier to read.
  • Sum up your bid, explaining succinctly why it meets all the client’s needs and why your company is best to undertake the work, or provide the service.  Write this last and put it into the front of your document.
  • When you talk about yourselves highlight your success stories, especially with similar projects.  Aim to prove you have the skills and experience needed to meet the customer’s brief.

Your tender should include the following sections:

  1. Quotation – The first document should outline the requirements of the job, how you plan to fulfil them and how much this may cost.  If this is an estimate, it is essential the customer understands the final costs may differ.  The quotation needs to contain an overview of what you are providing, the time you expect this to take, contingency and the validity period of the tender.
  2. Terms and conditions – The second section of the tender contains the terms and conditions.  Most bids include a standard version of this.
  3. Letter of Agreement – This will state when the job will start, give targets for completion and payment terms.
  4. You should also include information about your company and staff.  This can come in the form of short CVs or biographies, detailing your skills and relevant experience.

latest LOCOG Procurement schedule

Latest LOCOG Procurement Timetable

There are still tons of Olympic opportunities up for grabs.   Have a look at LOCOG’s latest procurement schedule to find out when it’s your turn to bid.  If you need any advice on tendering for the London games we’re always ready to help.

There are still tons of Olympic opportunities up for grabs.  Have a look at LOCOG’s latest procurement schedule to find out when it’s your turn to bid.  If you need any advice we’re always ready to help.

Category Date Opportunity
Artists, Performance & Events Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

Apr – June 2011

?     Sport production services

?     Sport creative design

?     Sport production (workforce)

?     Torch relay – staging

?     Retail – shopping bags

?     Orchestras

?     Gifts and promotional merchandise

?     Collectibles and awards

?     Professional artists and performers

?     Costumes and props

Facilities Management & Catering Jan – Mar 2011 ?     Catering equipment
Security Jan – Mar 2011 ?     Security contracts audit
Services Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Accessible formats – BSL, Easy Read, Audio description

?     Broadcast monitoring

?     Artwork production for advertising

?     Website moderation

?     Workforce training venue (large)

?     Training delivery & materials

Sports Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

Apr – June 2011

Modern Pentathlon, Horses, Fencing Equipment, Athlete Boats, Numbers-Bibs-Stickers, Buoys, Anemometers, Equestrian Show jumps, On Water Safety, GPS, Rowing Equipment, Equestrian Equipment.

Sailing Equipment, Boccia Equipment, Canoe Equipment, Beach Volleyball, Swimming Pool Equipment, Alcohol Test Units, Hockey Equipment, Athletics Equipment, Goal Ball, Handball Equipment, Scoreboards / Charts, Cycling Equipment.

Swim / Triathlon Boats, Whistles, Cones, Heat/Light Monitors, Tools/Repair Material, Ropes/Belts, Sports Specific Flags, Goal ball Equipment, Stationary, Consumables, Sewing Services, Coolers/Refrigerators, Triathlon Equipment.

Sports Medical Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Dental Equipment and consumables

?     Optometry

?     Weymouth and football venues services.

Technology Oct – Dec 2010 ?     IT reseller agreement.
Transport & Logistics Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Mobility vehicles

?     Village blinds and curtains

?     General tools and outdoor furniture

?     Fire equipment

?     Office furniture and safes

?     Sat Nav and tracking units

?     Press centre furniture

?     Driver scheduling and rostering

?     Traffic management consultancy

?     Driving license checks

?     Vehicle livery and graphics

?     Plant and machinery

Venues & Infrastructure Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Technology support structures

?     Portable water and waste

?     Alterations to existing buildings and CAT B fit out

?     Scaffold and superstructure systems

?     Site works and infrastructure

?     Temporary event fit out