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Archive for the ‘Tender Tips’ Category

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.

 

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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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Developing a bid strategy in a challenging marketplace

Posted by Gemma Waring on April 12, 2017

Strat Blog

Set your own strategy – be proactive not reactive when tendering.

 

Recently, Millstream highlighted the strength of Virgin’s approach to business development in our article featured on Energy Voice’s website. Virgin have championed diversification across sectors to generate more business opportunities: taking people to space, running the railways and providing healthcare services are just a few examples of Virgins product range.

This approach to business has resulted in staggering financial rewards for Virgin and other companies who are able to operate as primes in the prime/sub model.

The prime/sub model is when a large contractor wins the tender and are the prime contractor to the buying authority, they subcontract out elements of the tender to other suppliers, usually locally based SMEs.

So what impact does the prime/sub model have on SMES?

We all know there has been a massive drive from the government to support SMEs to benefit from the wealth of opportunities in the public sector.

This has been seen through their commitment to spend 33% of central government money with SMEs and also through the changes to the selection criteria in 2016 making it easier for SMEs to bid.

The question is – when huge prime contractors are winning huge contracts and replacing existing smaller providers, how is the government’s agenda being achieved?

The answer is it usually isn’t: when a prime contractor wins a public sector contract they are ultimately responsible for delivery and are looking to make profit. This often has a negative impact on the finances for SMEs as the prime contractor seeks to find efficiencies and cost savings through the supply chain to increase their own profit.

When a supplier is faced with the potential of the prime/sub model taking up a chunk of their business or taking away a business critical tender, many SMEs may feel they have no option but to join the supply chain if they are to survive.

However, that might not be their only option to succeed! Facing your Goliath means you have to find your inner David and seek out a new way to do business.

So what is the answer?

The answer is simple – have a strategy in place. Nothing stays the same in business and this is the next big challenge smaller providers are facing. There are a number of proactive steps suppliers can take to ready themselves for any impending changes:

  • Pre- Engage with the Contracting Authorities – in these situations waiting for the tender is too late. The only way suppliers can influence hearts and minds is to engage in advance of the tender being released. Use Tenders Direct to search for contract award notices (CANs) to find out when a contract is due to end, or to gain contact details from key buyers. You can also keep an eye out for prior information notices (PINS) which notify you of a future procurement exercise and give you plenty of time to pre-engage with the contracting authorities.

 

  • Form a consortium – rather than get swallowed up into the jaws of a prime contractor, suppliers can meet with other local providers to see if they can form a consortium or a special purpose vehicle and bid together. These groups of suppliers can then trade on their established infrastructure and wealth of experience and be able to trade on their own terms.

 

  • Join the team – some may relish the prospect of joining a supply chain. Suppliers will lose a lot of responsibility and liability when it isn’t their name on the contract, and some may prefer to operate with a lower steak in the contract with less risk rather than nothing at all.

 

These potential strategies translate across industries and sectors. Millstream meet with suppliers every day and as a qualified bid manager, I am constantly surprised how many do not have a documented and thought out bidding strategy.

I encourage suppliers to be proactive and take control of their destiny.

Working in the public sector can offer suppliers long term, well-paying business opportunities, and these deserve just as much time and attention as an internal strategy.

If you want to analyse your own bidding strategy or even create one from scratch, you should join our half day Success Simplified courses in London and Manchester and make sure you are deciding on your business’s future and not leaving it in the past.

Posted in General Procurement, suppliers, Tender Tips | 2 Comments »

The tender matchmaker…

Posted by Gemma Waring on February 13, 2017

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It’s Valentine’s Day. That time of year when people pay attention to the special connections they have in life and take a bit of time to celebrate them. Or maybe you are still looking for some special connections? Still searching for that one relationship with long term potential, stability and plenty of money…

Of course, here we’re talking about your business connections – specifically your connections with public sector buyers and tendering. With contract life spans of three years plus, 30 day payment terms and a high chance of you retaining a contract once you’ve won it once – what’s not to love? Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Public Sector Construction – Getting better all the time

Posted by David Law on June 10, 2016

The Public Sector is providing more and more contracts for Construction sector suppliers. Although times were tough for the industry following the recession, things have rebounded and opportunities have never looked better for suppliers and contractors working with the Public Sector. The future looks brighter still with this sector having a projected average growth of 2.6% from 2015-18.

Certain sub-sectors of construction have had significant increases over the past year. A 12% increase in road related tenders, 8% increase in new build tenders, 25% increase in architecture/design team tenders and the biggest increase is in the renewable energy sector (areas like solar power, wind power and geothermal) of around 35%.

With the High Speed 2 project, floods defence work, major road schemes across the UK, along with affordable housing and other projects it’s no surprise that things have rebounded in this sector.

Millstream has created an infographic on this to highlight the key facts and you can view this here: Construction Infographic

More than 4,000 private sector companies use Tenders Direct to find new business opportunities, of those over 950 are construction businesses, accounting for around 22% of the customer base. Tenders Direct work with thousands of public sector organisations in the UK, Ireland and Norway to publicise their contracts, allowing direct access to contracts that many are unaware of. The dedicated research team solely identify contracts and include them within the Tenders Direct database – many of these are smaller contracts that would not be published by the Official Journal (OJEU) or on any other central resource.

The Tenders Direct team, also manually categorise all tenders to ensure that only highly relevant opportunities are provided and therefore personalised to individual preferences and areas of specialism and are sent to subscribers every day.

To find out how Millstream can help you find opportunities in public sector construction, call 0800 270 0249 or visit www.millstream.eu

 

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Tendering across Europe – How to step out of the UK

Posted by David Law on October 26, 2015

With £714 billion being spent on the public sector in the UK in 2014 you may feel that there is plenty of business to go around. However, if you are considering broadening your options or want to look further afield you could consider bidding for tenders across the European Union.

The European Union was created on the basis of it being a single market which includes the free movement of goods, capital, people and services across all member states. In practice this means that a UK company should have an equal chance of winning a tender in a different EU member state as the local companies and there should be no barrier to intra-EU trade. We often hear of dissatisfaction that local contracts in the UK have been awarded to non-local suppliers and so this could be considered the other side of that coin.

While it may seem like it is easy to go for these types of opportunities there are certain things that need to be considered before taking the leap! All the points made by my colleague Gemma on this blog: How SMEs can break into the public sector will apply but there will be other aspects that will need to be considered as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Deciding what to bid for – less effort, more success!

Posted by Gemma Waring on July 29, 2015

Here at Millstream we speak to public sector suppliers every day both new and old and it is staggering just how many do not have a documented strategy that outlines how they should decide which tenders to bid on. Often is it left to the Bid Manager or another individual to sift through the notices and decide what to bid on. These are the same organisations that devote time and money every year to developing detailed sales and marketing plans but fail to put the same spotlight on tendering. So, why not have a documented approach to tendering to help guide your organisation to success? Read the rest of this entry »

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