SME week – The top 5 procurement acronyms

Infographic of the top 5 procurement acronyms

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.

 

Infographic of the top 5 procurement acronyms

 

SME week – How to approach your first tender

Advice on writing your first tender

Advice on writing your first tender

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. Acquire the documentation

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. Distribute and gain feedback

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. Review

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. Work with relevant departments

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?

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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

why you should work in the public sector

why you should work in the public sector

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.

Four reasons why SMEs should consider working 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

Procurement in the 2017 Manifestos – The Facts

With recent global, politically disruptive events such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, there were  already enough question marks floating around about what it would all mean for UK public sector procurement.

So now with the added and unexpected complexity of the 2017 General Election in just one week’s time, procurement professionals and suppliers msurvey-2316468_1280ay be wondering what changes procurement may face  12 months down the line.

At Millstream, we have taken a look at each of the main party’s manifestos to see what mention there is of procurement, and also if there are any major policies that might impact the sector.  NOTE: Text in italics is lifted directly from the manifestos.

Conservative

Labour

Lib Dem

PC

SNP

UKIP.png

So there you have it – Labour and UKIP have produced definitive actions regarding procurement which would have significant impacts on how the public sector procure goods, services and works. The other parties, focusing their messages on encouraging SMEs and localised spend.

Whatever your choice on 8th June, it is good to know how your vote might influence your job or your business.

 

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References/links to Manifestos:

Conservative Party Manifesto

Labour Party Manifesto

Liberal  Democrat Manifesto

Plaid Cymru Manifesto

SNP Manifesto

UKIP Manifesto

Passive Housing by 2020

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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Meeting social value criteria: 5 Steps

Social Value

The Social Value Act came out as legislation from 2012 and has recently hit the headlines again via the Crown Commercial Service.

The act concerns the benefits you, as a supplier, can bring to a public sector contract to improve the local area you are working in. This can be in many different forms such as providing apprenticeships, working on charitable projects or supporting local enterprise development.

From now on, social value is now becoming a weighted part of the evaluation criteria in tendering: what was originally 60% price and 40% quality will more than likely now be moving to 50% price 40% quality and 10% on social value. In fact social value might make up to 20% of the evaluation criteria as has been noted in the strategic approach of local councils such as Knowsley and Manchester.

Suppliers will also have to effectively manage and monitor their social value activity to prove the promises listed in their tender documents come to fruition.

How do you prepare for social value evaluation?

1. Understand the concept

Some suppliers fall into the trap of thinking they can shoehorn their existing environmental and sustainability actions to fit and this will rarely prove effective. Read these examples from the Crown Commercial Service to gain an insight into social value in practice.

2. Engage with your key buyers

Ask direct questions pre-procurement such as ‘What are your important areas of work in social value?’ You might find synergies between buyers and your company ethos.

3. Look at your work

Sometimes suppliers may be fulfilling the social value criteria but don’t record it or recognise it. For example: Do you employ locally? Support local suppliers in the supply chain? Offer apprenticeships? Do any community or charity work?

4. Look at gaps and practicalities of implementing new processes

Suppliers need to fill in any gaps they have in social value activities. But, think through the implications of any additional social value measures you might want to put in place. For example, offering apprenticeships will affect your HR team, line managers and the wage bill.

5. Document it

Your social value activities are only as valuable as your ability to prove you have done them and that they have been effective. You need to have case studies, data and statistics to quote in your tenders to demonstrate that you have done what you said you would and that it has made a positive impact socially.

 

Additional sources of info on The Social Value Act

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-value-act-information-and-resources/social-value-act-information-and-resources

http://inspiringimpact.org/

https://socialvalueportal.com/social-value-taskforce/

http://www.socialvaluehub.org.uk/

If you require any further support or guidance get in touch on 01224 650 772 or email gemma@proactis.co.uk

www.tendersdirect.co.uk/training-courses

High Speed 2 – A whole fleet of opportunities

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Unless you have been living under a railway bridge for the last 10 years, you will know that in 2010 the UK Government approved the plan to create High Speed 2 (HS2): a high speed railway from London to Manchester/Leeds.

Off the rails? Most definitely on. HS2 will shrink the travel time for many commuters and travellers between the cities in the Midlands and London, and for freight by improving lead times on deliveries, that in turn improves customer satisfaction (railtechnologymagazine.com).

HS2 will be one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in this country in recent years. The venture will create tens of thousands of jobs and generate billions of pounds worth of contract opportunities for suppliers in many fields. With 2026 the deadline date for HS2, what have we seen so far in terms of opportunities?

A tender has just been published looking for a supplier to provide them with 54 new high-speed trains along with maintenance, servicing and refurbishment for an initial 12-year period.  This tender is worth £2.75 billion and has the option to be extended for the entire design life of the trains. Continue reading “High Speed 2 – A whole fleet of opportunities”

E-communication: what does it mean for buyers?

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UPDATE: As of 18th October 2018 all public procurement exercises require e-communication between buyers and suppliers unless there are specific circumstances that make it impractical. In this blog we outline the requirements that buyers are now subject to.

What constitutes electronic submission?

E-communication became mandatory for Central Purchasing Bodies (CPB) in April 2018 and has now been rolled out to all purchasing authorities in the public sector.

This has brought an end to hard copy communications by requiring all interactions between buyers and suppliers relating to a procurement exercise to be conducted through a secure and auditable online system.

Regulation 22 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 states that electronic submissions from suppliers must use a tool where the exact time and date of submission is provided and that access rights are limited to authorised persons only.

Why has this change been implemented?

The overall rationale for the change is that e-communication is commonly agreed to help streamline and strengthen the procurement process for both buyers and suppliers.

The new rules are intended to improve transparency and auditability, make public contracts more accessible to suppliers, promote cross-border tendering, and reduce administrative costs.

What does this mean for buyers?

In order to comply with the regulations buyers must ensure that communication with suppliers is secure and that there is a comprehensive audit trail of all interactions.

This must be a dedicated tool with inbuilt safeguards – a secure electronic postbox – rather than a generic email system. Purchasing authorities need to have access to a platform that supports this.

Want to find out more?

myTenders Pro provides all the required functionality to allow buyers to publish tender notices, conduct competitions, manage contracts, and guarantee compliance with all applicable regulations including those relating to e-communication. Call us on 0800 222 9009 for more information.

 

Developing a bid strategy in a challenging marketplace

How to develop a bid strategy in a challenging marketplace

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.

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