Category: General Procurement

Top 5 bid writing mistakes: Too little, too late

In this series of posts, I am addressing the common errors that occur time and time again when writing bids. Below is our 4th post and will address the following mistake:

Too little, too late

Leaving work to the last minute. We’ve all done it. It is something that both large and small businesses alike struggle with and with bids it can be critical to your chances of success.

With no guarantee of winning, it is more challenging for businesses to assign the necessary resources needed to give it a strong chance of success. The difficulties in writing a submission, and the time it takes to do so, are often underestimated. These factors often combine which results in an 11th hour panic and sub-par outcomes.

You’ll need a sound project management approach in order to tackle the resourcing requirements of submitting a bid, which could mean temporarily pulling resource from other projects, something that senior management is often reticent in doing.

This is an area we see companies consistently struggle with. It might not always be apparent that there is an issue and its only if and when an unsuccessful tender is picked through that is becomes apparent there was an issue.

Some tips to avoid this:

Plan it out – by addressing our first mistake of the series, failing to prepare, you will have already identified your order of work and the dates these need to be completed  Think about how best to sequence your tasks and which ones can be done in parallel.

Learn from your mistakes – from previous submissions can you identify problem areas that required more time than expected? Can you put in safeguards to prevent this from happening again?

Set your own cut-off date – setting a date that falls before submission deadline will encourage you and your team to complete tasks sooner than needed. Slippage is common and by creating a buffer, you can give yourself time to recover should things not go as planned. If you are still writing first draft answers up to the day of submission (rather than doing final checks on revised versions) something has gone very wrong.

Ask yourself, is it worth it – if the deadline is fast approaching, is it worth putting in so much effort into a short period or would it be best to dedicate time to other tenders and creating more compelling bids. If you are finding that too little too late is a common mistake, try breaking the cycle and developing a more sustainable workflow. In a competitive sector it could be better to submit two high quality bids rather than three mediocre ones.

Ask for help – is there someone within your organisation who could help you with planning and managing your bids? If not, as the Bid Consultancy Manager at Tenders Direct, I have plenty of experience in identifying mistakes and helping bid managers achieve greater levels of efficiency. I’m always happy to discuss what actions you could take to quickly make improvements to your bid process, and help you get back on track.


For my final post, we’ll look at the the mistake of overlooking key details.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for specific help with your bid, please get in touch. Every week I help clients with their tendering, from bid writing to leading on bid responses. Use the details below to view the range of services we offer or to contact me directly. 

Tel: 07384 818 704
E-mail: andrew.watson@proactis.com  
Web: View our training and consultancy services 


Other posts in the Top 5 Bid Writing mistakes series:
1 – Failing to prepare and preparing to fail
2 – Biting off more than you can chew
3 – Not knowing how your pricing fits into your strategy
5 – Overlooking key details

Changes to procurement policy: Use of Procurement Cards

The Government has been very responsive in making changes to procurement policy to help protect suppliers, their workforce and their supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their latest PPN: Use of Procurement Cards, is aimed at maintaining cashflow to suppliers, while also ensuring the public sector is able to access goods and services quickly.

What has been introduced with this PPN?
Procurement Cards are being highlighted as the preferred method for purchasing goods and services, and the key points from this document are:

  • Single transaction limit increased to £20,000 for key card holders
  • Monthly limit on procurement card spend set to £100,000
  • Monthly procurement card spend in excess of £100,000 is permissible to meet business needs.
  • Opening up of more purchase categories providing access to a greater range of goods and services.
  • Above points apply to all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies.
  • Effective immediately as of 6 April 2020

What are procurement cards?
Procurement Cards are essentially charge cards used to purchase goods and services directly. These cards allow for instant payment and avoid the need to go through any forms of purchasing processes.

What is the benefit of using Procurement Cards?
The instant transactions are the major benefit to suppliers, receiving prompt will help them to protect their business, their employees and their supply chains.

By making Procurement cards the preferred payment method and increasing their spending limits, the Government is helping contracting authorities follow the instructions set out in previous PPN: Supplier relief due to COVID-19 – which focuses on prompt payment to support businesses and protect jobs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Where can I view the full PPN: Use of Procurement Cards?
Click here to read the full PPN on GOV.uk


Top Contract Award Notices this week 10/04/2020

In the last week, over 550 contract award notices were published across the UK – below you will find three of the top notices from the last 7 days. 


Title: United Kingdom-Caerphilly: Tyres for heavy/light-duty vehicles
Published By: National Procurement Service (Welsh Government)
Date Published: 03 April 2020
Framework/DPS: Yes
Value excluding VAT: £64,000,000.00
Number of tenders received: 9
Contractors: Vaculug Technologies, Tructyre Fleet Management Ltd, Direct Tyre Management Ltd, Exhaust,Tyres and Batteries (Worcester)Ltd, Inn Tyres Ltd, Kp Tyres, Tuf Treads, Protyre-Celtic Tyres

Access the full tender notice with your Tenders Direct login details HERE


Title: United Kingdom-Runcorn: Pharmaceutical products
Published By: The NHS Commissioning Board (Operating Under the Name of NHS England)
Date Published: 07 April 2020
Framework/DPS: Yes
Value excluding VAT: £445,000,000.00
Number of tenders received: 6
Contractors: AbbVie Ltd, Amgen Ltd, Biogen Ltd, Fresenius Kabi Ltd.

Access the full tender notice with your Tenders Direct login details HERE


Title: United Kingdom-Bedford: Construction work for highways, roads
Published By: Bedford Borough Council
Date Published: 09 April 2020
Framework/DPS: No
Value excluding VAT: £20,000,000.00
Number of tenders received: 4
Contractors: Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd

Access the full tender notice with your Tenders Direct login details HERE


Are your competitors listed above? Would you like to know their public sector success rate, market share and the types of opportunities they’re targeting? 
With our Competitor Tracking Alerts, you can view their past wins with our five year archive of award notices, and receive alerts when any organisation(s) you choose are announced as winners of above threshold public contracts. 
For more information, please contact us on 0800 222 9009 to discuss further. 

Don’t stop bidding because of COVID-19

While catching up with our business development team, it was interesting to hear that a small number of people are choosing to postpone searching for contracts until after this pandemic. When I asked Euan Henderson, Assistant Sales Manager, what his thoughts were on this, his response was as follows:

“I talk to businesses looking for our support in finding them Public Sector contracts on a daily basis. In the last few days I’ve spoken to a handful who think they can cut costs and pick up business when things are ‘back to normal’. 

“This is a bad decision.  

“If you are waiting until after the pandemic to start bidding on tenders, think differently. The public sector will always need suppliers, so now is the time to ensure you are building a pipeline of bids and working to secure business for the future.   

“Thinking about searching for tenders yourself? Save your resources! Tenders are published on over 500 portals, meaning that without Tenders Direct, you would have to spend a LOT of time searching different sites and sifting through notices to find anything suitable. 

“Most of the businesses I’ve been speaking to are trying to be as proactive as possible, and if they are your competitors, then they are going to have plenty of business lined up over the next few months.”  

It really is important to be aware of what opportunities are out there, and that you are working towards securing business for the future. If you are proactively seeking opportunities, you may be interested in our Advanced Tender Alerts.

We have over 5 years’ worth of historical tender information to tap into, and with our advance alerts, we can let you know when contracts are due for renewal – giving you a head start of up to 6 months.

Watch our video to find out more, or get in touch to discuss further.

Sales Team: 0800 222 9009 | Customer Service: 0800 222 9010 

New Public Procurement thresholds 2020/2021

New Thresholds

The European Commission published the updated procurement thresholds for 2020/2021 on the 31st of October 2019.

There is still much uncertainty about what will happen next with a confirmed Brexit delay until 31st of January. Much will depend of the results of the upcoming election on the 12th of December 2019.

For now, United Kingdom remains a part of European Union and the new thresholds will therefore apply from 1st of January 2020.

Regulation

The Regulations set out detailed procedures for the award of contracts whose value equals or exceeds the procurement thresholds. Details of the Regulations are given below.

England, Wales and Northern IrelandScotland
The Public Contracts Regulations 2015The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015
The Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016The Utilities Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2016
The Concession Contracts Regulations 2016The Concession Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2016
The Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011

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

Public Contracts

Thresholds are exclusive of VAT.

 Supply, Services and Design ContractsWorks ContractsSocial and other specific services
Central Government

£122,976

€139,000

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

£663,540

€750,000

Other Contracting Authorities

£189,330

€214,000

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

£663,540

€750,000

Small Lots

£70,778

€80,000

£884,720

€1,000,000

n/a

Small lot is a contract, or part of a contract, that is exempt from the public procurement rules. You can read more about it here.

Utility Contracts

Thresholds are exclusive of VAT.

 Supply, Services and Design ContractsWorks ContractsSocial and other specific services
Utility Authorities

£378,660

€428,000

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

£884,720

€1,000,000

Concession Contracts

Thresholds are exclusive of VAT.

 Concession Contracts
Authorities

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

Defence and Security Contracts

Thresholds are exclusive of VAT.

 Supply, Services and Design ContractsWorks ContractsSocial and other specific services
Defence and Security Authorities

£378,660

€428,000

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

n/a

 

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Timescales under the 2015 Public Contracts Regulations – updated

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We regularly receive queries regarding the minimum timescales that apply in each type of procurement procedure. These timescales specify the number of calendar days required between a notice being sent to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) for publication and the deadline for submission of responses.

The timescales can often cause concern with both suppliers and buyers due to the delay between submission of a notice to the OJEU and it’s publication. It can take at least 48 hours for a notice to be published after it is submitted, during which time there is an embargo on it being advertised nationally (for more information please see this blog).

Continue reading “Timescales under the 2015 Public Contracts Regulations – updated”

Framework Agreements: What You Need to Know

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What are framework agreements?

Frameworks are “umbrella agreements” that sets out the terms – particularly relating to price, quality and quantity – under which individual contracts (call-offs) can be awarded throughout the period of the agreement (normally a maximum of 4 years). They are typically used when the buyer(s) identify a need for specific products or services but are unsure of the scope or time-frame.

Continue reading “Framework Agreements: What You Need to Know”

Case Study: Bridgeway Consulting Ltd

Queen_s Award

Bridgeway receives The Queen‘s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development – 2017

In this case study we speak to Business Development Specialist Tom Foster to find out more about Bridgeway Consulting Ltd and their experience of using Tenders Direct.

Continue reading “Case Study: Bridgeway Consulting Ltd”

Upcoming Free Webinars

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Looking to learn but too pushed for time? With our free webinars you can join us on your lunch break or watch previous recordings at your leisure. Lasting no longer than an hour, we cover a variety of topics relevant to suppliers. Our next live sessions explore different types of tenders, why they are important, and how to find and win them.

 

Finding and Winning Low Value Tenders – Tuesday 17th July 1.00pm – 1.45pm

Low value tenders can be of huge value to suppliers of any size, but are not subject to the full raft of regulatory requirements and can be difficult to find. This webinar provides:

  • An explanation of what low value tenders are
  • Advice on why they are useful for suppliers
  • An explanation of how to access them
  • An outline of what rules and regulations govern low value tenders

Book your place!

 

Frameworks and DPS – Wednesday 18th July 1.00pm – 2pm

The use of Frameworks and Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS) is on the rise, but many suppliers are unsure of exactly what they are and how they work. This webinar provides:

  • A description of what a framework is and how it operates
  • A description of a DPS and how it differs from a framework
  • An explanation of how to find these opportunities
  • Examples of ‘call-off’ mini competitions from frameworks and DPS

Book your place!

 

View details of our full day training courses

Simple Strategies for Success: Take the Initiative

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In his poem Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day, Delmore Schwartz observed that “Time is the fire in which we burn”. Anyone familiar with tender submissions will probably have sympathy with this sentiment. After finding a promising contract, it can be quite a struggle to prepare a bid within a limited time-frame while staying on top of existing commitments.

Many suppliers tell us that racing to meet tight deadlines while wading through piles of bid documents only to be rebuffed after all their efforts makes them less inclined to bother bidding at all. This kind of “reactive tendering” can be both exhausting and futile, so what can you do differently?

Try giving yourself a head start by scoping out your targets in advance. Is there a particular buyer you’d like to contract for? If you can build even the most modest relationship with them you can gain useful intelligence about their specific needs and procurement strategy. When they go out to tender, this can help you make your bid as bespoke as possible.

Is there an existing contract that you missed out on or are now in a position to go for? If you establish when it is due for renewal and start your preparations months ahead, you’ll have much more time to perfect your pitch without feeling pressurised. This will leave competitors who only became aware of it when the tender notice was published rushing around while you calmly put the finishing touches on your submission.

Explore our free resources for suppliers

Learn how Advance Tender Alerts can give you a head start

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