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SME week – 6 SME resources we love

Posted by emilypirie on June 9, 2017

office-625893_1920The business world is ever changing. To keep on top of the latest trends, it’s important for SMEs to have a resource bank of insider tips and knowledge. We have compiled a list of our top five business resource websites so you have a go-to list of sources to help inform your business practices.

  1. Bdaily Business Blog

Bdaily was founded in 2009 and provides timely news, advice and opinion content useful for SMEs. What’s good about Bdaily is that you can target news stories for specific regions in England: North East, North West, Yorkshire and London as well as national and international coverage.

  1. Gov.uk

If you’re looking for a range of advice for your small business or startup, or even if you’re just in the planning phase, gov.uk has a range of resources: advice on writing a business plan, financial planning and support, and links to the various schemes the government runs.

  1. Smallbusiness.co.uk

With a dedicated Q&A section maintained by small business experts, smallbussiness.co.uk is the hub for start-ups and SMEs looking for insider knowledge. The site covers the most important topics and advice for SMEs covering finance, business management and technology.

  1. Federation of Small Businesses

Established 40 years ago, the FSB provide a wide range of business services to their members. What makes them stand out is their legal edge: online you can access fact-sheets, legal documents and read their blog to get into the nitty gritty of regulations.

  1. Startup Britain

A ‘national campaign by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs’: Startup Britain offers inspiration, resources and guidance to help people start and grow their own business. Startup Britain have local support centres and run events which you can find via their interactive map online.

  1. Tenders Direct – Things to help you

For guidance specific to public sector tendering, our ‘Things to help you’ section on Tenders Direct has guides, infographics and handy procurement links to help suppliers with their procurement exercises.

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SME week – The top 5 procurement acronyms

Posted by emilypirie on June 8, 2017

Do you know your AINs from your PINs? You sure CAN.

Tendering in the public sector can involve many acronyms that suppliers will need to get their heads around. We’ve taken the top five acronyms used in the world of procurement and made them into a handy infographic.

For more terminology explained, download our ‘Tendering Terminology’ guide to help you understand the jargon and help take the pressure off your bid response.

 

Tendering Terminology (1)

 

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SME week – How to approach your first tender

Posted by emilypirie on June 7, 2017

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With many years of experience winning client’s work, we know how to manage a bid exercise for the best return for your business. When you receive a notification of a tender that is of interest, what are the next steps?
1. Download all documentation and store it in a designated folder on your computer. If you only have a hard copy of the tender document, make copies and keep the original safe.

NB Do not mark or write on the original as it will be needed for the final submission.

2. Circulate the tender documentation to the people who will be working on the bid should you choose to do so. Let anyone involved in procurement in the organisation know about the interest in bidding for the work. Allow your team to give feedback about the business opportunity: highlighting concerns and ideas early on will make the process much easier.

3. Read the tender documents thoroughly to assess whether a tender is right for your business. It is not always possible to know from the short tender notification description or summary if the tender is right for you. Think about your turnover, experience, years trading, accreditations and affiliations e.g. ISO 9001.

4. To help you make the decision to go bid or not bid, work with the relevant departments to help you identify the benefits and barriers to your company fulfilling the contract.

If you need any help finding opportunities, Tenders Direct does all the legwork for you by searching over 500 sources for public sector business opportunities. Sign up for a free demo to find out how Tenders Direct can benefit your business.

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SME week – Are you ready to tender?

Posted by emilypirie on June 6, 2017

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If you are new to tendering, it can be difficult to anticipate what a buyer is looking for in terms of capabilities from a supplier. You don’t want to miss out on a contract opportunity if you are itching to bid, so where do you need to be to be classed as ‘ready’?

At Tenders Direct, we work with companies every day who are looking to tender for public sector work, and sometimes it can be difficult to find out from an authority what they are looking for in a winning bid response.

To prepare for tendering exercises, we have compiled a checklist from our years of experience in public sector tendering: the Tender Readiness Checklist. Some top tips are having technical information about your products or services to hand, and having an idea of industry pricing standards before you start to bid. Our guide shows you what you need to complete, and areas where you may benefit from developing on your current capabilities in order to tender more successfully.

Tenders Direct also has range of other guides and infographics housed in our ‘Things to help you’ section on our website. Here you can find many tendering resources that will improve your understanding, and chances of being ready to break into the public sector successfully.

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Calling all SMEs – 4 reasons to work in the public sector

Posted by emilypirie on June 5, 2017

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All this week, Tenders Direct is running an ‘SME week’ to raise awareness for smaller suppliers about the advantages of working in the public sector.

Tenders Direct shared 35,436 UK and Irish low value tender opportunities in 2016, so what are the benefits for SMEs to working in the public sector?

The value in the public sector

The UK public sector has opportunities for all sizes of suppliers: low value tenders can total up to £106,047 and high value tenders can be anything from the latter and into the millions.

See below four reasons why SMEs should consider work in the public sector:

  1. Public spend: In the fiscal year ending in 2017, total UK public spending is expected to be £784.1 billion* meaning there are many business opportunities to take advantage of.
  2. Prompt payment: according to new data from the CCS, public sector buyers aim to pay all invoices within 30 days, with the majority paid within five.
  3. UK Government targets: The government aims to award 25% of public procurement contracts to SMEs.**
  4. Value for money – government buyers have to be transparent with the taxpayer money and have to show how they have delivered this. SMEs won’t be compromised by a larger company if they have a better value proposition than them.

Where are the opportunities?

Tenders Direct can help you be more successful in the public sector by allowing you to spend less time looking, and more time bidding for work by delivering tender notifications right into your mailbox.

Bring home more contract wins

With a team of ex-bid writers and reviewers, Millstream Training and Consultancy have supplier training which can help accelerate your bid response from good to great. Our introductory and advanced courses are continually updated to reflect any changes in procurement legislation, not to mention trends which buyers are looking out for. Visit our website to find out more about the training we offer.

With UK government targets, prompt payment, low value tender opportunities and tendering training for SMEs to take advantage of, SMEs are welcome in the public sector: there is a lucrative source of business opportunities waiting for smaller suppliers over on Tenders Direct.

* ukpublicspending.co.uk

** National Audit Office 2016

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Passive Housing by 2020

Posted by emilypirie on May 24, 2017

building-419204_1920Passive Housing or ‘Passivhaus’ is a building standard that is energy efficient, comfortable, affordable and ecological at the same time.

For buyers and suppliers in the construction industry, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive was revised in May 2010 and called for all EU member states to require all new builds to be ‘nearly zero energy’ by the 31st December 2020.

What is passive housing?

Passive House characteristics:

  • Passive Houses allow for heating and cooling related energy savings
  • Structurally composed of: timber frames, being stone or concrete framed
  • Low primary energy use in kWh/m2 per year
  • Saving on water consumption
  • Having a ventilation system consistently supplies fresh air
  • Appropriate windows with good insulation

How can you get involved?

So with this legislation on the horizon for 2020, what has Tenders Direct shared for supplier opportunities?

South Dublin County Council are tendering for the Design and delivery of a sustainable integrated mixed tenure housing development in Kilcarbery, Dublin in line with the Kilcarbery Grange Preliminary Masterplan. This development has a capacity for 892 passive housing units.

This Prior Information Notice (PIN) for Housing Management Services lets us know The London Borough of Lambeth is preparing a tender for a scheme of 70 affordable homes. The contract notice will be advertised in the coming months for housing which will abide by the passive house legislation.

In Cardiff, the construction of four adaptive houses and seven bungalows is being tendered for. The properties, under the name of the ‘Holm View New Build’ scheme, will be built in line with the passive housing regulation.

Where are the opportunities?

If you are a construction supplier looking for new business, the ‘Passive House’ is the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world. With 30,000 buildings with this sanction to date, Tenders Direct will be sharing further tender notices as passive housing continues to grow.

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Accepting Electronic Submissions – what does it mean for buyers?

Posted by emilypirie on April 17, 2017

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From the 18th of April 2017, all Central Purchasing Bodies (CPB) will only be permitted to accept electronic submissions to procurement exercises. By September 2018 this requirement will be extended to all public contracting authorities. Whichever type of buying organisation you are, you’ll need to be aware of what this means.

What is a CPB?

This is defined as a contracting authority that acquires goods or services intended for one or more contracting authorities (“buyers”). Examples of CPBs include The Crown Commercial Service, The Scottish Government and APUC (Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges) as they procure on behalf of multiple contracting authorities.

What counts as an electronic submission?

Regulation 22 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 tell us what we need to know. The main thing to clarify is this – e-mails do not count as electronic submission. Electronic submissions must use a tool where the exact time and date of submission is provided. In addition to this, only authorised persons can access the data and therefore no one has access to the data transmitted prior to the deadline.  Electronic submissions must also include a tool to clearly detect infringement or any attempt of infringement of the access prohibitions.

There are a number of benefits to electronic submissions for both the buyer and the supplier:

  • Everything is automatically time-stamped and fully auditable
  • Reduced costs
  • Reduced impact on the environment
  • Quicker and more streamlined process on both sides of the procurement

So what does this mean for buyers?

Moving on to an e-procurement portal would benefit all buyers as it allows them to run procurement processes in compliance with the EU Directive and UK Regulations on Public Procurement by:

  • Attaching documents to their tenders
  • Allow the submission of tender documents
  • Allow one-to-one interaction with the suppliers

Want to find out more?

If you are a contracting authority, myTenders PRO is the ‘go to’ e-procurement portal for publishing contract notices. Our portal can facilitate electronic submissions to make sure you are compliant with these new regulations, and those that will come into place for all buyers in the future.

Call us on 0844 561 0670 or visit our website to find out more.

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Public Procurement Thresholds 2017 – update

Posted by emilypirie on February 6, 2017

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Just before the beginning of last year I wrote this blog introducing the new financial thresholds for mandatory publication of opportunities in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Since then we’ve received quite a number of queries on the subject. Although the current thresholds haven’t changed I thought I’d write an updated blog to include these discussion points.

When procuring goods or services over the financial threshold a public authority must do so under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015  in Scotland.

The current thresholds are as follows:

PUBLIC CONTRACTS

Supply, Services and Design Contracts Works Contracts Social and other specific services
Central Government £106,047

€135,000

£4,104,394

€5,225,000

£589,148             €750,000
Other contracting authorities £164,176

€209,000

£4,104,394

€5,225,000

£589,148            €750,000
Small lots £62,842

€84,000

£785,530

€1,000,000

n/a

 

Social and other specific services are subject to the new ‘light touch regime’ as described in a previous blog.

UTILITY CONTRACTS

Supply, Services and Design Contracts Works Contracts Social and other specific services
Utility authorities  

£328,352

€418,000

£4,104,394

€5,225,000

£785,530              €1,000,000

 

DEFENCE AND SECURITY CONTRACTS

Supply, Services and Design Contracts Works Contracts Social and other specific services
Defence and Security authorities £328,352

€418,000

£4,104,394

€5,225,000

 n/a

 

CONCESSION CONTRACTS

For the first time Concession Contracts are covered in EU Law under a separate directive and therefore separate regulations in the UK.

The EU Directive is found here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/GA/TXT/?uri=celex:32014L0023

The UK regulations here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/273/contents/made

The UK Directive gives instruction on how the value of a concession contract should be calculated: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/273/regulation/9/made

The thresholds for publication in the OJEU refers to Article 8 (1) of the EU Directive which is:

  1. This Directive shall apply to concessions the value of which is equal to or greater than EUR 5 186 000.

The Sterling equivalent is £4,104,394.

CALCULATING ESTIMATED VALUE

The calculation of the estimated value of a procurement exercise shall be based on the total amount payable, net of VAT, as estimated by the contracting authority, including any form of option and any renewals of the contracts as explicitly set out in the procurement documents.

CONTRACTS SUBSIDISED BY PUBLIC FUNDS

All applicable contracts which are subsidised by 50% or more of public funds must be advertised in the OJEU. From time to time a public body may part fund a project and request that the recipient of funding must advertise the procurement in line with public contracts regulations even if their contribution is less than 50% of the overall value. As such any recipient of public funding on a project should verify with the funding body what is expected of them in procuring for the project.

WHAT ARE SMALL LOTS?

My colleague Line recently wrote a blog to clarify this question: https://blog.tendersdirect.co.uk/2017/01/06/procurement-terminology-what-are-small-lots/

HOW DO I KNOW IF A CONTRACT IS CLASSED AS WORKS?

Many contractual requirements are a mixture of works and services. Whichever element is the highest in value should be taken as the contract nature when determining what threshold to apply. If you are unsure whether a specific element is classed as works or services then you can refer to Schedule 2 of the regulations which lists all activities which constitute works by CPV code:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/102/schedule/2/made

If the CPV code which fits your requirement is not in that list then it is not classed as a Works contract.

I hope you find this blog useful. If you want more help with understanding thresholds and other public sector tendering procedures, Millstream’s Training and Consultancy team are available to answer any of your questions. Or, leave us a comment below.

 

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Posted in General Procurement, Procurement Law, Public procurement, suppliers, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quirky Tenders: 2016’s most memorable tender notices

Posted by emilypirie on January 3, 2017

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Here ye, here ye, we’ve got some entertaining news.

2016 has drawn to a close. What happened in the 365 days that made up 2016?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement | 2 Comments »

CPV codes – are they accurate?

Posted by emilypirie on December 2, 2016

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In October of 2016, the European Commission announced details of a study on CPV codes – Common Procurement Vocabulary codes – which tender notices are classified under.

There are around 10,000 CPV codes, and the list of codes was last updated in 2008. The codes range from very niche; animal ear tags (03340000); mange-tout (03221222); zirconium (14735000), to more common areas; building construction work (45210000); health and social work services (85000000) and computer supplies (302373000). The codes don’t reflect new technologies and computing mimicking the advance in technology in recent years, branding a lot of CPV codes out of date.

Despite this, buyers still list their contract notices under these codes in the hope of them being found by suppliers who want to bid for it.

The research carried out by the European Commission this October threw up some sobering news: in a sample of 405 notices tested, 23% had the wrong code associated with the scope of work tendered.

In around 10% of cases the code applied did not describe the work/supply/service procured; in some 8%, the code applied was too general, and in about 4%, the code was too specific.

So amidst this muddle of what code gets used where, what does this mean? In fact, it’s a pretty big deal for both buyers and suppliers.

If an incorrect code is used, a buyer is minimising the chances of there being a range of suppliers for them to choose from. They may not be able to choose from varying prices or scrutinise against the MEAT criteria: most economically advantageous tender. Public contracts can be awarded either on the basis of lowest price or MEAT, and buyers have to justify why they have chosen to spend a certain amount of money.

If they have very little to make comparisons on, buyers can end up spending more, either by using an expensive supplier due to lack of choice, or by using the cheapest supplier and getting a shoddy result which may have to be re-tendered for in the future.

For suppliers who supply works, services and supplies in a specific field, if a wrong code is used they are less likely to find contracts that they can tender for. CPV codes are a very specific classification and if the code isn’t correct, the supplier is missing out on opportunities which are destined for them. These could be SMEs who survive on providing specific services, and using the wrong CPV codes doesn’t benefit these niche businesses.

For example, for a contract ‘Collection of key qualitative and quantitative information on the European Commission’s merger decisions’ the code for ‘market research’ (code 79310000) was used, when in fact, something more appropriate like the code for ‘economic research’ (79311400) or ‘research services’ (73110000) could have been used. Due to the misuse of CPV code, the contract was never awarded.

The ill use of codes also affects the public. When work finally passes the business case for approval within an organisation, and for various stages to be passed, the work is still ‘undone’. If the tender needs to be re-advertised, we are looking at a similar timeframe to. Across the UK we are waiting for better roads, new schools, these things are all part of a very long queue.

Time is money. So what help is out there? Suppliers who don’t have access to a comprehensive tender alert service like Tenders Direct could be potentially missing out on lots of business opportunities thanks to incorrect CPV codes.

Tenders Direct is a wide-ranging tender alerts service which relies on a team of tender reviewers reading the contract and then classifying it against a set of key words that ensure tenders are classified to meet supplier requirements. We do not rely on CPV codes, we rely on experienced reviewers who can read between the lines and figure out exactly what work is being tendered for.

Our service helps marry up buyers with suppliers. A supplier is notified of tenders which fit the criteria of work they are looking to deliver, which is the way our service works. With our site, there is less likelihood of suppliers missing out on potential opportunities.

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Our procurement experts help make procurement easier, and we take pride in being able to minimise the noise and help a buyer classify what they want, and feed the right opportunities directly into the right supplier mailboxes.

To CPV or not to CPV? That is the question.

Link to Tenders Direct homepage

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