Five tips on winning public sector tender opportunities
Winning public sector tender opportunities isn’t easy. It takes time and effort. Here are a five tips that might help.
Say you and your direct competitor are both applying for the same tender opportunities. You are offering a very similar solution to each other. How can you give yourself a better chance of winning the business?
Responding to tender opportunities is about standing out from the crowd
Most likely when responding to public sector tender opportunities you will be faced with fierce competition. UK Government technology spending is £18bn a year so it’s not surprising many suppliers are keen on getting a slice of the pie. In this sea of suppliers your job is to stand out. Start here:
- Understand the public sector buyer – this can take time and will probably not happen simply from reading the tender opportunities. As part of your sales and marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to engage with the public sector throughout the year. If you can build trust and learn about the organisation’s policies, roadmaps, projects, etc. then you will be much better informed when writing bids for opportunities when they arise.
- Ask questions – if there’s something in the opportunity that you need clarifying, or if you think there’s a piece of information you need to shape your responses, there is no harm in getting in touch with the organisation! Frameworks like DOS have an online feature that allows this. It is a common misconception that suppliers can’t contact the buyers for more information. Another good avenue to get ahead is to attend Early Market Engagement events.
- Communicate your methodologies – more and more, buyers are showing a preference for working in an agile way. When working with government you should understand that a focus on user needs is crucial. Occasionally, a waterfall methodology is required. Demonstrate that you have processes in place to support the buyers and their projects.
- Provide evidence – it’s no good saying you have a bunch of skills, if you don’t back it up with a good example. If you have examples of working in the public sector, that’s great! But private sector examples will work just fine (unless specified otherwise) if you can relate that experience to the project you’re bidding for.
- Price yourself competitively – it won’t always be the case of “the cheapest wins,” but if you can demonstrate good “Value for Money” then you’ll be in a very favourable position.
Some public sector tender opportunities will be old-school in their approach and you will need to bid offline, while others like the ones published on the DOS framework can be tendered for digitally. At Advice Cloud, we hope to see more moves towards digitising the tendering process, with the creation of new modern frameworks and improvements to G-Cloud. This helps to make government business more accessible for Suppliers, especially SMEs with less resources than larger companies.
But no matter how you submit your tender, the most important thing is that you understand the requirements of the buying organisation, their culture, and how to present your skills and experience concisely. A recent audit on the Digital Marketplace conducted by dxw, suggested that 71% of the published tender opportunities did not adequately explain what problem was to be solved. Public sector procurement teams have the responsibility to ensure that opportunities are written in an understandable way, with a clearly specified scope and desired outcomes; otherwise, suppliers are left uninformed and guessing.
There are regulations and guidelines available to buyers online. As a supplier, there are lots of places you can go for advice on bid writing – at Advice Cloud, we think that good practice begins with approaching tendering from a buyer’s perspective.