Finding Public Sector Tenders

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Finding business opportunities in the private sector can be challenging. With over £220B available from public sector contracts this can be a lucrative sources of revenue for small to medium enterprises. The only question is how can your company easily source tenders that are right for you?

Our Advice

Whilst there are many opportunities that can appear incredibly attractive to the smaller business, it is vital to remember to only select those that match your customer profile. Applying to tender and writing bids is an extremely time and resource consuming exercise that is ultimately competitive. Your business has to put in more energy and commitment that your potential rivals to win the contract.

For this reason, your company should focus on contracts that are similar to jobs you have completed before, where you can demonstrate a proven track records of success with the operational systems and capacity to produce a consistently high standard of delivery.

High Value Tenders

At the current time EU legislation still stipulates that all high value public sector tenders must be advertised on the European stage. Regulation states that these must be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) where your company can find tenders with a value in excess of £100,000.

It is worth noting that some of these contracts will be rated by lifetime value over a period of years. This might mean that a £1M contract could actually be a 10 year service provision worth £100K a year. Certainly something your company should bear in mind when scoping out potential arrangements.

Equally, you may discover that part of a larger contract is incredibly suitable for your business based on past experience and specialism. Monitor the contract award announcements and contact the winning company. There’s a good chance they will strongly consider sub-contracting part of the service to you if you can demonstrate suitability.

The TED Website

Whilst there are many websites available that will give you access to the lower value public sector tenders the TED website (tenders electronic daily) is the recognised digital supplement associated with the OJE. Featuring some 520,000 procurement notices a year with 210 thousand tenders worth a potential 420B Euros, this is the place for SMEs to find the bigger business.

To maximise the effectiveness of this site we would strongly recommend you register and set up an account. Weekly checks will help you stay on top of the opportunities and be aware that the expert search option will allow you to locate the most suitable contracts for your business.

Procurement Portals

One of the easiest ways to find public sector tenders is to subscribe to one of the many procurement portals now available on the internet. Sites like Supply2Gov and Tracker Intelligence have access to the UK database of tenders and can be configured to help you find the right opportunities for your business.

One of the most time consuming tasks in business can be locating the right customers and jobs. Obviously there is a cost involved when it comes to these services, but when you factor in your sales team’s time, they are often a very sensible option. Whilst the databases are open to everyone, these providers offer added value where they can home in on the contracts most suitable for your organisation.

Smaller Contracts

If your company is in the market for smaller contracts then it could be profitable to monitor local and regional websites. Most of these display opportunities that are under £100K and operate as an invaluable tool for companies prospecting for public sector tenders. Most of these appear on the local stage allowing you to select potential jobs that are close to home.

Sites are often owned by local government business support agencies who can help point you in the right direction.

Contracts Finder

In the same way TED is the place to find the higher value contracts you can use the aptly named contracts finder section of the UK government portal to find lower value contracts. These will generally be national contracts valued over £10K and local contracts over £20K. You can also use this tool to find some of the higher value contracts listed on TED.

The site allows you to save searches and receive daily email alerts, which can be incredibly useful to keep you up to date with the minimum of effort. Be aware however that with the huge number of opportunities on this site that it is advisable to be very strict with your searches or you may become overwhelmed with the sheer number of results.

Streamline Your Process

Naturally if your business can prove competency and proficiency in key areas, especially management and quality assurance then this can help streamline the tender applications process. With less resource required per tender this allows you to apply for an increased number of tenders.

ISO certification, in particular ISO 9001 will often turn certain sections into a complete tick box exercise. It is of course worth noting that with public sector contracts it is especially important that your certification has been issued through an UKAS accredited body, as this is now a pre-requirement of many of the publicly available specifications. Without this your tender application is unlikely to be received favourably by public sector organisations.

And Finally

When it comes to getting through the tender application process and winning contracts we have information resources that can help you maximise your chances of selection. Remember that will all these business exercises it is always important to understand how to best win tenders – explore our advice with this helpful article.


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Written by Mark Nutburn

CTO - technology professional with over 20 years of IT experience building bespoke CRM systems and designing customised software solutions. A key part of the management team at The British Assessment Bureau for many years and a part of AMTIVO’s management team.