How To Win Bids and Tenders

Wondering how to go about winning bids and tenders? Writing first-class bids isn’t an exact science – but at Win That Bid, we’ve got the expertise to help you secure your dream contracts with ease.

Top Ten Tips for Winning Tenders

1.    Be thorough: answer every question in the bid document – missing out a couple of vital questions can lose you the entire bid.

2.    Know your marketplace (competitors & pricing): spend time researching your competitors and understand their pricing prior to the bid writing process.

3.    Appeal to your reader: offer persuasive, benefit-led responses and think about the customer – what’s important to them? What are they looking for in their supplier?  Don’t simply provide a list of features – if you want to win tenders, take your responses one step further and state the benefits.

4.    Have a model: build a library of standard PQQ and tender responses – save documents such as insurance certificates, policies and yearly accounts in one place that is easily accessible by others in the company.

5.    Outdo yourself: don’t leave your tender until the last minute – make sure that you have dedicated ample time and resources to produce the best possible result. If you can’t submit your best effort for this bid, why you are submitting at all?

6.    Be decisive: make a conscious decision to bid – if you are tendering ‘just because’, this is not the recipe for a winning bid.

7.    Discriminate: can you deliver this tender? Do you want to win this bid? If you win, what will happen to your other contracts? Make sure you’re bidding for business you really want.

8.    Understand the bid requirements – and adhere to them.

9.    Know your audience: read the bid evaluation criteria – what’s most important to the customer?

10.  Be proactive: engage with the customer – being invited to bid is a compliment, and likely to put your submission in a stronger position than a cold response.

 

Need some help winning that dream contract?

Call us today to discuss how we can help you win more business

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.

How to Find Tenders

People often ask us how to find tenders for their business.  There are hundreds of portals in the UK – some generalist, some specialist.  Some charge a membership fee and others are free.  This article sets out a few ways to find yourself some great tendering opportunities.

Contracts Finder
Contracts Finder is a free new service for businesses, government buyers and the public. This service comes from the Government and you can find:

· live contract opportunities

· closed tender documentation

· contract awards and contract documents

TED (Tenders Electronic Daily)
TED is the online version of the ‘Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU)’, dedicated to European public procurement. Public procurement in the UK and European Union is governed by a number of Directives and Regulations and all tender opportunities above a certain monetary threshold must be published in the OJEU. TED provides free access to business opportunities. It is updated five times a week with approximately 1500 public procurement notices from the European Union, the European Economic Area and beyond. Register on the TED website for free to get started.

Where to find Global Sporting Opportunities

Where to find Local Authority opportunities

It is worth finding out how your local authorities manage their tenders however we find that in the majority they use their own online portals, advertise in local papers and/or use an external company like Exor to manage their preferred supplier database.

Central Government

Try these for size

NHS

The Department of Health is divided into a number of business units for purchasing purposes, each with their own budgets.  We have selected a few ways to monitor different tendering and business opportunities

Specialist

Each sector often has its own specialist portals and we have put together a list of some of them

What do you think of our How to Find Tenders list – have you got a favourite to add?

Tender Writing Policies: New Bribery Act Rules

Do you have a complete and up to date suite of policies in your tender writing and policies library? Well here’s one more to add to the list. The Bribery Act 2010 finally arrived on 1st July 2011. If you missed our spring bulletin, the Act creates a brand new offence applicable to UK commercial organisations who fail to prevent individuals ‘associated’ with it from bribing another person on their behalf, no matter where in the world the bribery occurs. Conversely it also extends to non-UK entities conducting business in the UK. So how can your organisation protect itself from prosecution?

The key is to ensure the business has adequate procedures in place. Of course, prevention is better than cure but in the event the organisation is faced with defending its position in court, the ability to illustrate a robust set of anti-bribery and anti-corruption processes are in place will be vital to a successful outcome.

But where to start when considering how to structure a new set of guidelines? The Ministry of Justice have helpfully suggested six guiding principles: Proportionality, top level commitment, risk assessment, due diligence, communication (including training), monitoring and review. Small businesses who only trade within the UK may rightly feel as though this is overkill. If this is you, perhaps consider a watered down version such as ensuring everyone is aware of the Act and its implications and clearly stating the company’s view on accepting or giving bribes. Larger organisations will need far more robust processes in place and a solid policy rolled out throughout the organisation as part of their ongoing training program. They may also decide to put a senior management steering committee in place. However, the starting place for any size organisation is to conduct an assessment of the potential risks that may exist.

For more information about the Bribery Act 2010 or the suite of policies you hold in your tender writing library contact us

International Tendering

With the domestic market still in a fragile state it can be difficult for SMEs to win the contracts they need.  One great way to increase your chances of winning a bid is to widen your scope.  Why not bid for tenders internationally?  Now is the time to be adventurous as taking advantage of the weak pound could not only boost your income but could boost the profile of your business.

The internet has made finding out about bids all over the world as easy as using a search engine but the tricky thing is knowing where to begin.  If you’re new to international tendering it may help to start with something like OJEU, the Official Journal of the European Union.  OJEU provides public procurement services throughout the European Union.  Via the Tenders Direct website around 2500 new notices are advertised every week.  – http://www.tendersdirect.co.uk/Default.aspx

If you want to look even further afield there a loads more websites, such as TendersZeal and GlobalTenders, which advertise contracts from all sectors.  However, when considering an international tender you may want to bear in mind a few questions.  What is the wider financial situation of the country you’re considering working in?  Do you know who your competitors are?  What are the success stories, and failures that you can learn from?

We’re always interested to hear about your experiences.  So whether you’ve gone through the international tendering process and can report back to us, or you’re considering it and need advice, get in touch with us through this blog or our contacts page, hello@winthatbid.com

Choosing the right opportunities for your business

Part of the art of tendering is choosing the right opportunities for your company.  The tendering process is used with the buyer in mind and not the supplier.  You need to make sure that you have the following in place and you also need to be confident that you can win the tender.  Your confidence needs to be based on reality which is backed up by your documentation and writing a compeling case with the buyer in mind.

Is my company big enough?

  • Buyers will be checking that the tender contract value does not exceed 20-30% of the tendering company’s turnover (NB this is a guide, not a rule)
  • This is because the buyer wants 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 my company meet 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 can be seriously reduced
  • This may be in terms of specification, geographical location/coverage, mandatory accreditations etc

Can I show relevant experience?

  • Buyers like to see that suppliers 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’ (ie 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?

  • As shown in the above Tender Documents Checklist, public sector buyers generally ask for audited accounts for the last 3 years (sometimes 2 years is enough)
  • This means that Start-Ups are not always in the best position to win bids

Has my company got sufficient resources, time & tendering expertise?

  • Tendering is time consuming – you will need to invest a lot 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.

What can I do?

  • Wait for the tender opportunity that is right for your company – it is a waste of time tendering for contracts that you are not going to win!
  • Continue to grow your company until it is better positioned to tender
  • Collaborate with another business that can complement your company and help minimise any of the ‘gaps’ mentioned above
  • Use consultants or other resources to help you through the tendering process

How many public contracts are out there for my business?

golden ticket

Have you got the Golden Ticket?

Through my experience as Business Development Director on the front line of Win That Bid and through talking to lots of sales directors out there, it seems that the burning question is often ‘how can you guarantee me some relevant contracts that can increase my business turnover?’  The answer is, there are no guarantees in this life but we can help you make sure that you are in the right place at the right time.

If you want some assurances that there are enough contracts in a particular sector then a good place to start would be to look in http://www.publictenders.net or http://ted.europa.eu; if you spend some time reviewing what has gone then that will give you a good idea of whether it is worth spending valuable time and resources incorporating contract tendering into your business strategy.

We strongly believe that if a business wants to win their business changing contracts, they need to build tendering and bidding into their long term strategy. Though it may feel like winning the lottery when it happens, more often than not, winning happens because the company has been working very hard behind the scenes in preparation for the big day. It can take years, rather than months or days.

If it is something that you are thinking about incorporating into your business plan then we think that some of things that need to be considered are

  • Make a plan of attack
  • Allocate staff
  • Prepare the pitch
  • Understand the market you are pitching towards

Most importantly learn to be selective and always benchmark your progress so you are constantly on the road to improvement.  But anyway, more on this in another blog.

What are your thoughts and experiences – we would love to hear from you.