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Archive for the ‘Tender Tips’ Category

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

Posted in General Procurement, Tender Tips | Leave a Comment »

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

 

Posted in Construction Tenders, General Procurement, Tender Tips, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Posted in General Procurement, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Posted in General Procurement, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Your Rights as a Supplier

Posted by David Law on July 6, 2015

The most common question that we get from Tenders Direct customers is: ‘What rights do we have once we put in a bid?’

The answer to that is dependent on what stage of the process the supplier is at and the rights for both stages are listed below:

For the PQQ:

Questions should only be asked of your company and not your potential solution (It should be about selection of suppliers and not an evaluation of your product).

Buyers have a legal requirement to notify candidates eliminated at the PQQ stage “as soon as reasonably practicable”.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Mystery Shopper Service

Posted by Cindy Cheng on June 15, 2015

Bidding can be both pressurised and also rewarding for suppliers to the public sector. There are many concerns for suppliers during this time such as completing all the relevant documents to meet the deadline, getting adequate responses from the buyers on the Q&A or that the process is being run fairly.  Poor procurement practice by the buyers may go unnoticed under these circumstances and many suppliers are reticent to raise a challenge and risk future contract opportunities. So what happens when you realise there are potential issues? The Mystery Shopper Service offers a solution to this problem.

A Brief Overview

The Mystery Shopper Service aims to tackle any concerns suppliers (particularly SMEs) may have regarding poorly conducted procurement processes which they have been part of on behalf of the suppliers. The service welcomes questions at any stage of the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Little fish in a bid pond? How SMEs can break into public sector procurement.

Posted by Gemma Waring on May 27, 2015

A lot of potential suppliers to the public sector are put off by the amount of work it takes to become tender ready and what seems to be a chicken and egg situation where you need references to pass the PQQ (selection) stage but can’t get references until you win a contract!

The changes to the procurement regulations this year have made in roads to this situation with the abolition of PQQs for below threshold contracts and the removal of the burden of proof for above threshold contracts but there are a number of steps SMEs (and all organisations new to public sector tendering) can take to get a foot in the door and start supplying to the public sector. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Tender Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

How do you challenge a buyer when you feel the procurement is flawed?

Posted by Gemma Waring on May 20, 2015

This blog covers the remedies directive for the public sector and when/how you can raise a challenge against a contracting authority.

The EU Remedies Directive was created in 2007 and transposed into UK law with the updated Public Contracts Regulations in 2009. The Directive brought in two very clear and important changes for suppliers to be aware of which were:

  • a right to challenge the buyer if a contract is entered into before the compulsory standstill period has ended (standstill being the minimum 10 day period where buyers notify all bidders of the intended outcome before contracts can begin); and
  • an automatic right to challenge an award decision and have the contract cancelled or modified if there has been any breach of the wider procurement rules.

In addition, the 2009 Regulations introduced a number of other changes, including: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement, Procurement Law, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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