Once you’re listed on a framework or Dynamic Purchasing System, there’s plenty more work to do. Some routes to the public sector market are filled with an abundance of opportunities – take G-Cloud for example, which operates like a catalogue for buyers to choose from 1000s of suppliers. Other ways in may be more niche, with fewer competitors on a framework. Regardless, there are certain things a supplier should look for when going after an opportunity – spreading yourself thin and hoping to win a multitude of contracts won’t help you here!
Taking a Strategic Approach
Public sector opportunities, when pursued strategically, offer tremendous long-term value. They can result in a reliable and trustworthy portfolio of work and ongoing relationships with public sector bodies. Success in the public sector can also boost your credibility when bidding for commercial work!
Whilst there’s huge opportunity for growth, working with the public sector requires careful assessment of your capability to meet requirements, and as such the entire procurement process can be very drawn out. To ensure you’re not wasting time and resources, you need to be strategic in narrowing down your opportunities.
Key areas to drive Social Value
Social value is now an important measure across public sector procurement. If suppliers can’t keep up, they risk losing out on business. Seeking out the contracts that value this can really help you get your foot in the door as a reliable public sector supplier! Consider how your technology can drive social value in areas like:
- Environmental sustainability – The UK Government is pushing hard on the environmental agenda to meet the 2050 Net Zero goal, and your solutions could align nicely with their goals. For example, you may support net zero commitments by optimising energy use across government estates and vehicle fleets. Apply data analytics to building maintenance, transport systems and infrastructure management.
- Enhanced public services – Your solution may improve civic participation, access to benefits, patient care and educational outcomes.
- Digital transformation – Digitise archives, assets and records to promote transparency, preserve history and increase access to information.
- Community support – Facilitate public health response, emergency services and community resilience through data sharing and intelligent systems.
Evaluating your ability to deliver
Okay, say the strategic factors look promising – but before jumping in, you still need to evaluate the formalities.
Can you meet the requirements?
First, on many frameworks and DPSs, you’ll have had to meet certain requirements to be accepted. Terms and conditions and procurement laws need to be adhered to. There may also be minimum requirements around financial stability, security, and more. Check for any essential accreditations and know what you’re committing to on the front end so there are no nasty surprises later on!
Compete and identify your competitive advantage
Public sector procurement is a lengthy process. Government buying cycles move slowly and you’ll also need to navigate complex decision-making and bureaucratic structures. It takes expertise and resources to succeed. Leverage partners who know the ropes, and on this topic, be prepared for the work it’ll take your own team. You may need to invest considerable staff time and resources upfront with no guarantee of return.
Evaluating the competitive landscape is crucial too. Be realistic about your positioning and which contracts you’ll be most likely to win – this will help you find which opportunities are right for you, and you can go from there.
Closely analyse the scoring criteria as well. If on a further competition framework, you’ll be required to bid for opportunities. Tailor your bids to hit key requirements like technical ability, experience, and demonstrating value for money.
Pay attention to the details
Once dealing with a specific opportunity, there’s much more to look out for. Buyers will likely go into much more detail in the opportunities they post, beyond what’s needed of you to just be on the framework – for example, they may specify the timelines they need a supplier to work to. Make sure you factor this in and be realistic about whether or not you can meet deadlines.
Similarly, cost models may differ depending on the buyer and the opportunity posted. There may be numerous small details such as these that, if missed, may cause you to lose a contract even after signed or have to take penalties for non-compliance – so avoid over-promising!
Keep up this level of accountability throughout the length of the contract and be ready to report on key performance metrics, as supplier progress is often closely tracked! Think even further about your ability to scale operations if demand spikes under the agreement. You need models that allow flexibility to ramp up quickly.
Scale on up
It’s important you think beyond what might be asked of a supplier in the initial contract notice. Think about your ability to scale operations if demand spikes under the agreement. Will you have more capacity to deal with this, or do you need to establish a model that will allow you to expand and deal with the increased demand? In our experience, working with the public sector can require a huge amount of patience and flexibility – which does have the potential to be positive for suppliers. Still, we understand it doesn’t come without its stressors!
Overall, there are many elements of a public sector opportunity you might need to look for – but what those are is dependent on you and your goals. Taking on board this advice and utilising a strategic approach to shortlist your opportunities will allow you to pursue those where the juice is worth the squeeze. Partnering with the government is rewarding when done right – you just have to enter with clear needs and wants in mind and with your eyes wide open.