Tenders Direct Blog

Comment from the experts at Tenders Direct.

Posts Tagged ‘business opportunity’

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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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 »

Why are framework agreements important to SMEs?

Posted by David Law on May 5, 2015

In our blog about election manifestos one thing that was clear is that all the main parties feel that involvement of SMEs in procurement is the key to economic growth. The current Government set a target of 25% of all Central Governments spend to be with SMEs when it came to power in 2010 and it met this target in the 2013-2014 financial year. Framework agreements represent around 45% of procurements in the UK and compared to other EU nations the UK uses this type the most. The purpose of this blog is to explain how important framework agreements can be for SMEs.

They can be broken down into lots. In the new regulations it suggests that authorities can break tenders down into lots where applicable. Although this has always been an option, there has been a change in focus initiating a ‘do it or justify why not’ approach which is good news for SMEs as it means that larger contracts that would previously have been out of reach for SMEs are now available. Read the rest of this entry »

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

Answering your Questions on Framework Agreements

Posted by Diane Callaghan on May 27, 2010

What is a framework agreement?
A framework agreement is an ‘umbrella agreement’ that sets out the terms (particularly relating to price, quality and quantity) under which individual contracts (call-offs) can be made throughout the period of the agreement (normally a maximum of 4 years).

Do framework agreements need to be advertised in OJEU?
If the procurement is being paid for out of the public purse and the value of all the potential call-offs is estimated to exceed the EU thresholds (and it is not excluded by part B of the regulations) then yes, the framework agreement should be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).  However, the individual call-offs do not then need to be re-advertised.

What is commonly procured using framework agreements?
Framework agreements are typically used where the authority knows they are likely to have a need for particular products or services, but are unsure of the extent or schedule.  So framework agreements are commonly set up to cover things like office supplies, IT equipment, consultancy services, repair and maintenance services etc.

Who can use a framework agreement?
Many framework agreements can be utilised by more than one authority.  If this is the case, the purchasing authorities need to be identified in the relevant OJEU notice.  An example of frameworks available to a wide range of purchasing authorities are those formed by Buying Solutions (an Executive Agency of the Office of Government Commerce), a central purchasing body who create framework agreements for use across the whole of the UK public sector.

How can I get onto a framework agreement?
If the framework agreement has been advertised in OJEU, you can only be considered for inclusion on the framework agreement if you respond to the OJEU notice by the stated deadline.  The procurement process for awarding the framework agreement will then follow all the usual EU procedures and rules and be awarded according to how well suppliers satisfy the selection criteria.

How are call-offs awarded under a framework agreement?
If the framework agreement is awarded to one provider, then the purchasing authority can simply call-off the requirement from the successful supplier as and when it is needed.  Where the framework is awarded to several suppliers, there are two ways in which call-offs might be made:
1) Where the terms laid out in the framework agreement are detailed enough for the purchasing authority to be able to identify the best supplier for that particular requirement, then the authority can award the contract without re-opening competition.
2) If the terms laid out in the framework agreement are not specific enough for the purchasing authority to be able to identify which supplier could offer them best value for money for that particular requirement, a further mini-competition would be held between all the suppliers on the framework agreement who are capable of meeting the need.

What are the advantages of framework agreements?
The main advantage to a purchasing authority of using a framework agreement is that they do not have to go through the full OJEU process every time the requirements arise.  Having to go through the tender procedure once rather than several times, will obviously reduce tendering costs.  It also means there is less downtime between identifying the need and fulfilling it, which considering how lengthy the OJEU process can be, could be a considerable benefit.  There are also further potential savings to the purchasing body because of economies of scale, which may prompt suppliers to offer more competitive prices.

The reduction to tendering costs will also apply to suppliers, as going through the tender procedure is costly and time-consuming for suppliers too.  Obviously, the main advantage to suppliers of being on a framework agreement is the chance of being awarded valuable business opportunities.

What are the disadvantages of framework agreements?
A disadvantage of a framework agreement for a purchasing authority is that they are relatively unresponsive to change – there may be new suppliers and/or new solutions within the market that were not included when the framework agreement was initially set up.  Furthermore, framework agreements tend to apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which might make it difficult for authorities to satisfy their own procurement objectives.  However, most framework agreements do not place any obligation on the purchasers to actually buy anything.  Therefore, if the requirement doesn’t fit into the framework agreement or they think they can achieve better value for money not using it, then they can go elsewhere.

This in turn is a disadvantage for suppliers under the framework agreement; most frameworks do not guarantee that suppliers will get any business from them.  Therefore, you may spend a lot of time, effort, and resources getting included on a framework agreement and never get any business as a result.  However, you are still in with a chance, whereas suppliers not included on the framework (whether they were unsuccessful or were not aware of it when it was tendered) are likely to find it more difficult to secure business for the requirements covered by the framework agreement.  It is therefore a good idea for suppliers to investigate what framework agreements already exist and when they might be up for retender.  And for those suppliers included on frameworks, don’t take the business for granted – continue to market your products or services to the purchasing authorities !

If you are interested in knowing when a new framework agreement is being launched make sure that you have a subscription to Tenders Direct. To find out more give our friendly help desk staff a call on Freephone 0800 270 0249, or click here.

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Posted in General Procurement, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 173 Comments »

Public contracts after the General Election

Posted by Tim Williams on May 5, 2010

Despite the three election debates, none of us are any the wiser precisely how the next Government will cut expenditure in order to pay off the financial deficit. We know that change is (hopefully) coming that will reduce the size of ‘Big Government’ and while change often brings threats, it also brings opportunities.

UK Party Leaders

UK Party Leaders

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Politics of Procurement | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Flying the Flag for Small Businesses

Posted by Neil Thompson on March 31, 2010

Flagging Contracts to SMEsRecommendations first outlined in the Glover Report to help small businesses identify contract opportunities are now coming to fruition.

The Glover Report – Accelerating the SME Economic Engine states…

“Tendering opportunities thought especially suitable for SMEs or consortia of SMEs should be flagged by the procurer during the advertising process.”

Although this idea has been around for a while, the OGC have recently published a paper entitled  Small supplier big opportunity, Flagging your contracts to SMEs which follows on from the Glover Report’s recommendations and outlines the procedure to be adopted by purchasers in highlighting suitable opportunities for SMEs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How to score with PQQs

Posted by Diane Callaghan on January 20, 2010

PQQs (Pre-Qualification Questionnaires) are issued by awarding authorities, as part of a restricted procedure, in order to short-list suitable suppliers before inviting them to tender.  Suppliers are assessed according to pre-set criteria based around financial position, ability to deliver, quality standards, and the company’s policies on health and safety, sustainability and equal opportunities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

If at first you don’t succeed…

Posted by Jill Watson on October 22, 2009

With its wildly different culture, risk adversity, rigid processes and sometimes outright incompetence, is it any wonder that so many suppliers are put off working with the public sector?  Probably not.

So, you should just forget it right? Getting into the public sector market will involve hard work and perseverance.  You will have to spend a bit of time understanding the public sector procurement processes and pick up some new skills.  You will more than likely face frustrations along the way, you might even have to change some of your preconceptions about this elusive market.  Sometimes it’ll seem like it’s just not worth the hassle so you don’t bother pursuing it.

But could it be worth a second look? Is it worth getting your company geared up to do business with the public sector? If you supply a product or service that the public sector demands then here are a few things to inform your decision:

– The UK public procurement market is worth over £175 billion a year;
– Public sector organisations are not going to go out of business any time soon, this means a level of security and certainty that you won’t get with a lot of private sector organisations;
– Public sector clients tend to make prompt payments;
– There’s a high chance of repeat contracts;
– Processes are (largely) open, transparent and fair.

Now, if you’ve had a negative experience with a public sector buying organisation, you might well disagree with this last point.  However, the first thing you need to remember is that no two public sector purchasers are the same.  This can be a difficult thing to get a handle on to start with. On opposite sides of the spectrum you could have one organisation keen on innovation, communication and strategic partnerships and another still firmly operating in the master and servant mindset.  It is up to you to do some digging, find out what’s what, then decide which organisations you want to work with.  Tricky, but worth it perhaps?

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Tories will ‘unleash an army of armchair auditors’ to spend money better

Posted by Tim Williams on October 6, 2009

Francis Maude - Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

Francis Maude - Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester yesterday, Francis Maude, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the party would publish online, every item of government expenditure over £25,000 and all government tender documents for contracts worth over £10,000.

The Shadow Minister said that he thought that this would allow ‘an army of armchair auditors’ to crawl all over the governments accounts and not only help them to spend money better, but it would also help to rebuild trust.

This isn’t the first time that politicians have promised to make government procurement more transparent:

  • In 2003 the Better Regulation Task Force published ‘Government Supporter and Customer?’ Recomendation No. 1 was that the government should advertise ‘lower value contracts from across central government and include information on future contract opportunities.’ This set the scene for the Supply2.gov website, which due to a woeful lack of support from the Department of Business failed to reach its true potential and is due to be replaced by a new website implementing the Glover recommendations (see below).
  • In 2005 the Office of Government Commerce and the Small Business Service published ‘Smaller supplier…..better value?‘ which pointed out the challenges facing SME’s and how the government could help by publishing their future contracts online.
  • Also in 2005 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (when John Prescott was still a force to be reckoned with) published the ‘Small Business Friendly Concordat: Good Practice Guidance’ which yet again urged public sector organisations to use their websites to publish ‘details of forthcoming bidding opportunities.’
  • In 2006 the then Scottish Executive published a ‘Review of Public Procurement in Scotland’ authored by John McClelland, which recommended that ‘a single public sector “electronic portal” should be established. Suppliers must be able to access all essential information on opportunities to offer services and bid for contracts for the supply of commodities and services to the whole Public Sector in Scotland.’ This report resulted in the establishment of the rather effective Public Contracts Scotland website in 2008, which is run by the (some say, brilliant) team behind Tenders Direct.
  • Most recently in November 2008, the Glover report or ‘Accelerating the SME economic engine: through transparent, simple and strategic procurement,’ as it was more formally known, yet again, you guessed it, recommended that:
    • ‘By 2010, contract opportunities above £20,000 across the whole public sector should be advertised electronically with standard indicative contract value ranges, and accessible through a single, free, easy to search online portal.’

So at numerous times over the last six years, various politicians, government departments, quango’s and notable report authors have called for more transparency in the publication of government contracts.

The main barrier to progress has definitely been the lack of a clear lead by central government, either to publish its own contracts, or to establish an infrastructure and clear guidelines or regulations to ensure that other public bodies publish their contracts. The secondary barrier has been an unwillingness by staff in local authorities, NHS trusts, etc., to publish their contracts. This unwilling attitude stems from a variety of reasons such as a fear that they will be inundated with suppliers, that they want to keep contracts for local suppliers, that they ‘know’ who the best suppliers are anyway. Provided the procurement activity is approached professionally these fears are either groundless, well intentioned, but illegal and ineffective, or simply wrong. All of them get in the way of efficient procurement, or as the Right Honorable Member for Horsham put it yesterday we need to ‘spend money better.’

 The Department for Business and the Office of Government Commerce have been making some progress towards implementing the recommendations contained in the Glover Report. Unfortunately progress appears to have slowed as the General Election looms closer. At least it seems that the Tories have a similar, if not even greater, enthusiasm to open up public procurement, so that regardless of who wins power next year we should have a new era of open access to government contracts.

Posted in Politics of Procurement | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

To Bid or Not to Bid

Posted by Neil Thompson on September 16, 2009

Selecting the right contracts to go for is critical to the growth of your business. So often we waste a huge amount of time responding to tenders we are destined never to win. It can be due to a lack of resources, limited experience or it simply just doesn’t fit with your core business.

Here’s a quick and effective checklist for deciding whether you should go for a contract or not.

Step 1
Rank your response from 1 to 5, with 1 as the most negative and 5 as the most positive answer. If the total score is below 20, you should seriously consider whether it is worth proceeding to Step 2.

1. Were we aware of the opportunity before it was advertised?
2. Do we know the decision-maker(s)?
3. Do we have a significant technical or other competitive advantage?
4. Have we done an effective job of pre-selling for this project?
5. Do we have a champion in-house who is motivated to win?
6. Have we allowed enough time for preparing the proposal?

Step 2
Answer yes or no to the following Qualitative Factors:

1. Will our price be competitive?
2. Does the opportunity match our target market area and services?
3. Does the project present us with an unusual opportunity to break into a new market?
4. Will the submittal effort be proportional with the expected fee?
5. Is the project consistent with our minimum/maximum project size objectives?
6. Can we make a profit doing this project?
7. If we cannot make a profit, are there any prevailing reasons to want the project?
8. Do we have qualified staff available to perform the work?
9. Do we have the staff and time available to prepare a quality proposal?
10. Do we have the track record/experience for the project?

If you have answered ‘no’ to more than two of these questions, you should seriously consider whether this is the right contract for you.

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