Do you want to bid for Scottish Public Sector procurement opportunities but aren’t sure how to prepare your business for it? If so, then this is the blog for you.
Becoming tender ready is a great investment of your precious time and this brief guide will enable you to take some initial steps that will put you in a great position to bid for new Public Sector opportunities.
First and foremost, why become tender ready?
Did you know that Scotland’s Public Sector bodies spent £13.3 billion in 2019-2020? This represents a significant market and opportunity.
The Public Sector in Scotland shares many of the same values and goals as the Social Enterprise and Third Sector. Therefore, bidding for and delivering Public Sector opportunities can often align well with organisational objectives and values.
With 80% of Public Sector contract awards now going to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, organisations like yours are already winning work in the Public Sector. It is a sector that is committed to improving access to public contracts for SMEs (small to medium enterprises) supported businesses and Third Sector bodies.
Furthermore, Public Sector bodies are committed to paying its suppliers in good time with a commitment to prompt payment, meaning you should receive payment quickly after you submit your invoices.
Tenders are evaluated and awarded on quality and price, dependant on the buyers’ requirements. In many cases it’s not about being the cheapest but about offering the best service.
Ok so, how do you become tender ready?
Step One – Understanding the Market
The first thing you need to do is some market research to establish if Public Sector bodies might be interested in buying the services or products that you offer.
This is a critical step that hopefully will convince you to continue becoming tender ready or save you from investing time pursuing the wrong strategy.
The key questions to answer are:
- Who might buy my products and/or services?
- Are there any current or future opportunities that my organisation would be interested in?
To answer these questions, you need to know what services you would be looking to offer and where you might geographically be able to deliver services.
Once you have established this there are two main sources of information about past, current and future opportunities that you can review to give you more insight into who has won tenders in the past and what is available for you to bid on now:
- Public Contracts Scotland (PCS)
- You can register and search PCS for past current and future tenders helping you establish a picture of the size and scale of the potential market
- Buyers Forward Purchasing Plans
- Usually contained within Buyers Annual Procurement Reports this allows you to see what buyers are planning to purchase in the future and if this represents an opportunity for your business
Spending time researching will help you evaluate if there are potential opportunities for your organisation and should help you decide whether to continue or not.
Step Two – Seeing Opportunities
A key step in becoming tender ready is ensuring you are informed about any current and future opportunities that might be of interest to your organisation. This means registering with Public Contracts Scotland as a supplier and signing up for relevant alert e-mails.
Step Three – Becoming Visible
It’s vital that you become visible to buyers. This is important if you are interested in smaller value contracts – Quick Quote Awards (contracts under £50,000 in value) – which are distributed to a select list of suppliers through PCS. Key to all these opportunities is ensuring that buyers are aware of your organisation and the services/products that you offer. To increase your visibility, you need to spend time developing a Supplier Finder Profile as part of your registration with Public Contracts Scotland.
Another top tip to visibility is to engage with buyers who might be interested in your organisation and the services that you offer. The market research that you conducted in step one will really help in identifying the buyers that you want to engage with.
Attending local and national ‘Meet the Buyer’ events is another great way to meet buyers and raise awareness of your organisation. You can register for information about free to attend ‘Meet the Buyer’ events on the Supplier Development website, here.
Step four – Ready to Bid
Now that you have completed the first three steps, the final step to become tender ready is to get everything that you might need to bid gathered into one place. A common belief is that organisations can’t do anything in advance of a tender being published, however this is not true.
In reality, there are a whole host of worthwhile timesaving things that can be done to get you as bid ready as possible well in advance of any opportunity being published. Key documents and resources it’d be worthwhile collecting and collating into a ‘Bid Library’ are:
- Annual Accounts (three years)
- Accreditation certificates
- Insurance certificates
- Key company policies and procedures (e.g. Health and Safety, Quality, Data Protection)
- Any past tenders and feedback received
- Staff CVs
Having all this information in once place is a great way to get organised to bid and can save a whole lot of stress. This Bid Library can be further developed and improved over time creating a valuable resource for your organisation.
By implementing these four steps you will:
- Increase your knowledge of what potential opportunities there might be for your organisation
- Increase the visibility of your organisation with relevant Public Sector buyers
- Increase your ability to respond quickly to any potential opportunities
For anyone considering bidding for Public Sector contracts, following these steps is a great investment of your time and can lead to amazing outcomes for your organisation. It will open Public Sector procurement opportunities to your organisation and put you in a much better position to compete and win work.
Further Reading and Support
If you want to continue investing your time in getting procurement ready Just Enterprise offer a wide range of support to social enterprises and Third Sector organisations including:
- One-to-one support
- Workshops and webinars