What the election means for tendering

What the election means for tendering

Today is the day that has been on everyones minds since October. It’s election day. And it’s most certainly created a divided kingdom. With more political uncertainty than a lot of people have seen in a lifetime it can be hard to form your own opinion with so much noise coming from every side. Everyone thinks they’re right when in reality, who knows.

However, we aren’t here to give our opinions or try and sway any votes. We’re just here to talk about the facts and what we know best.

How does the election effect tendering?

The election has had an effect on tendering from the very beginning. From the 6th of Novemeber, Purdah came into effect. ‘Purdah’ describes the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on certain activity are in place. This means that no new public sector contracts can be released during this period. The only contracts that can go forwards are those that are continuations of tenders that have previously been signed off. Some contracts can go out to tender but will not be signed off during this period. This obviously effects all businesses working within the public sector who were looking to put something new out to tender as the election means that that is not possible.

On the bright side, this period of slow business and backed up contracts all comes to an end when the polls close at 10pm on the 12th of December.

Although this may be the beginning of more political division and uncertainty in the country, one thing is for certain. Many new contracts are going to flood in over the coming months.

As the elected party takes power and they start to implement their policies, they will need to put many things out to tender. This will be a stark difference from the slow ‘purdah’ period as contracts that would’ve never been released before the election start to be released. Regardless of whatever party gets into power, this will be the case.

If you would like to take advantage of this period of increased contract notices, we’re more than happy to help. We have a dedicated team who will be happy to assist you. Whether it be with a review, training or writing the entire submission, we’re here to help.

We’ll leave you with this – Keith Ellison said ‘Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender,’ and we absolutely agree. A lot of people don’t vote because they don’t think it’ll make a difference when in reality our vote is what gives us power over our country’s future. Hopefully this election will bring us closer to stability and get us closer to where we want to be. All we can ask is everyone respects each others decisions and stands together regardless of the outcome so that we can move forward united rather than divided.

Get out there and vote!

Technical Input Brings out the Best Bids

Technical Input Brings out the Best Bids

Over the last couple of weeks I have written about how bid writing is a skill in its own right and a skill you must properly hone to ensure can write a winning tender submission. I have also written about how important time management is to ensure you submit a compliant and compelling tender response.

Today however, I am writing about the importance of recognising that whilst you may be extremely skilled at writing in a persuasive manner and engaging your reader, there will also be staff members in your organisation that may have more technical insight than you do into the solution you will be offering to your potential client.

Here at Bid and Research Development we recognise this and fully incorporate it into the way in which we work with all our clients. We know where our skills lie, and this is in writing strong, compliant, and compelling tender submissions. We know how to properly dissect a tender specification, and we know what a local authority wants to see when they ask particular questions. We also know that our clients have a detailed understanding of how they work, technical insights and actual service delivery in practise.

This is why we work alongside our clients to draw out the information we know that we need to write a winning tender. We need to know who does what, when, why and how. How is this recorded, what evidence do we have to show this to the would-be client.

Knowing what information the client wants to see, and then gaining this information from Technical Experts is an intrinsic part of bid writing. There may be a wide range of individuals we need to speak to, depending on the nature of the tender, the complexity of the service being tendered for, and the industry that you are in.

We thoroughly enjoy getting to speak to so many different experts on a weekly basis, and get to learn a huge amount about our clients and what truly makes them so great. This can include Registered Care Managers, Health and Safety Managers, or even the Head of Curriculum Development if we are working with some of our education and training providers.

Now, if you are a Technical Expert and you have been handed a tender by your director, you also need to recognise that whilst you may be the very best in your field, you may not actually be the best person to write about it in a tender response. And this is where we can help! We are here to take your tender off of your hands, only ask you the important questions you need to hear, and we can then translate this into strong written narrative which will give you the very best marks once evaluated by the procurement team. Feel free to contact us today for an informal chat on how we can work with your experts to produce the very bid possible.

HS2 Station Tender Released amidst uncertainty from all angles

HS2 Station Tender Released amidst uncertainty from all angles

Despite the huge political ambiguity we are all surrounded by as we plough into December with an election just around the corner, the officials at HS2 are ploughing on with costly tender exercises like there is no tomorrow and as if there is no uncertainty as to the future of the project whatsoever.

The new station in Birmingham has had the tender documentation published with a valuation of around £270 million and this is just weeks after the publication of the The Oakervee review which warned that despite the project is still considered viable, there were several major civil engineering contracts that should really be retendered.

Oakervee has been very critical of the procurement process that has been used so far which he claims has completely misjudged the risk transfer process from contractor to authority and that contractors have hugely inflated their costs to cover risks that they are simply not bearing. The report has been quoted saying HS2 is “carrying most of the risk and all of the pain with little gain”.

Household name major contractors stand accused of lining pockets with taxpayers money and the review states that these contracts should be re-procured to get best value for those who will be footing the bill for the project. It has been revealed in the review that instead of the originally claimed economic benefit of £2.30 back for every £1 spent on this project instead we are looking at only £1.30 to £1.50 – still viable, but the gulf looks like it is being swallowed by not just contractors, but the fact that these procurement processes are costly exercises in themselves.

One must wonder what kind of salary the HS2 officials are taking from all of this as well. The £1.5 tender for overhead power cables and new tracks has been torn up and started afresh, and the Curzon street station has also had to be restarted due to lack of interest shown by the market.

The bid teams at the likes of Skanska/Costain/Strabag; Bouygues/VolkerFitzpatrick/McAlpine; Eiffage/Kier; Balfour Beatty/Vinci; and Mace/Dragados will be thoroughly stretched if they decide to retender these contracts. These tenders are huge undertakings and can often take over 12 months to properly prepare. Thankfully most of the bids we see day-to-day are not such a daunting size, but can still be a stretch to our clients who either do not have the time or skill to complete them to a high standard. Christmas time can also be a challenge for resources so don’t be afraid to drop us a line if you have some January deadlines that you need some expert input on over the festive period.

Time Management skills for winning tender submissions

Time Management skills for winning tender submissions

In my last blog I wrote about the skill of persuasive writing and just how important that is in setting you apart from other tenderers and engaging your reader. If you do not get them enthused in your proposed offering and solution, its difficult for them to justify awarding you top marks.

Today however, I want to stress another skill that is imperative to a successful tender submission, and that is time management. There is no point dedicating days or even weeks of precious resource to a tender if you are not going to submit it on time. Conversely, there is no point attempting a huge tender if you have put it off for weeks and we are now only a few days aware from the deadline; you will rush, make mistakes, miss key points, lack evidence you have not had time to gather and give a very poor reflection of your company to an organisation you want to do business with. Not good!

When you first get ahold of the ITT from the local authority’s procurement you need to assess the Tender Timetable and understand the deadline for raising clarifications as well as the deadline for submission itself. You should also properly understand what the process for submission is. I think the days of hardcopy ringbound submission with CD copies etc. is nearly behind us for SMEs tendering in the public sector, but that doesn’t mean that some of the lovely portals some authorities are geared for a simple submission process. We have had tenders that LITERALLY take hours and hours to submit on certain portals, but we wont name names.

Some councils give minimal instructions and a digital postbox – fine! Some also give you the most comprehensive list of requirements in the land! PDF each response. Label each PDF. Use a specific filename structure eg Company Name – Tender Name – Lot Number – Section Number – Question Number, with each response needing submitting to a different section on the portal. If you do not realise the task that is ahead of you when it comes to submitting your tender return, and you leave it too late, then you run the risk of it being submitted late.

A late submission is technically non-compliant and gives the authority fair reason to exclude you from the process, wasting all the time you put into a potentially winning tender submission. It also creates a poor first impression of your organisation and you will be starting on the back foot if they do decide to evaluate your tender return. It can absolutely be the difference in the evaluation process and it is such an easy mistake to avoid with proper planning and time management.

We recommend never waiting until the deadline day to start submitting your tender return. If you have parts complete, reviewed and ready to go, get them up there on the portal so that you don’t have to worry about them later on. ‘Submit as you go’ so-to-speak. Plan backward from the deadline and set aside proper time to submit and make you know exactly what you need to do to submit a compliant tender return. If you are not sure – ask a clarification question, the procurement team at the authority are there to help and there is (almost) no such thing as a stupid question. Tenders are tricky beasts and time management is an important skill in your arsenal to slay them.

If all of the above seems like an overly onerous task, or you simply do not have the time available to give submitting a tender the attention it deserves, don’t worry because we certainly do! Feel free to get in contact to discuss how we can help you submit high quality submissions in a timely manner maximising your chances of contract award.

Failing to prepare, preparing to fail

Failing to prepare, preparing to fail

Its no simple task writing a winning tender submission, and a lot of work can be done well in advance of the release of a tender submission to ensure that you have ‘all of your ducks in a row’ and you are not scrabbling to create and collate evidence requested in the tender return.

So what can you do to help you prepare for writing a tender submission? We have created a quick checklist of items you can be busy bringing up to standard well in advance of the issuing of the ITT.

Policies and Procedures

Its not enough to simply have a policy in place these days; evaluators will actually open up these documents and read them! Not only do you need to ensure that are legislatively compliant but you need to make sure they reflect best practise and properly showcase your capabilities. Risk assessments and method statements are very important, as local authorities are naturally risk averse and will not want to award responsibility of delivering works or a service on their behalf if you cannot demonstrate you have proper systems in place for managing and mitigating risk.

Evidence Evidence Evidence

I know readers out there must be tired of me singing the importance of evidence when writing a winning tender submission, but it is so important you have it in your arsenal. It was once enough to win contracts on promises alone with nothing to back them up (apart from maybe a handshake on a golf course). With legislation paving the way from transparency in the procurement process the competitiveness when evaluating has reinforced the need to have evidence of capability and competency in place.

If we have two contractors promising the same service level, and one has: KPIs, examples and case studies of where they have delivered it before, with training certificates of staff who will be delivering the service; whereas the other simply promises the world with no cited proof of their ability to do so.. which one do you think the council will choose? Use your time to gather this evidence and have it ready to use throughout your tender return.

Research the authority and opportunity

Not enough is said about researching your potential client, and the opportunity that you wish to pursue. Local authorities have a wealth of information on their values, strategic aims and objectives which you can use to really flavour and tailor your tender return and make it unique to their needs. Clients like to feel special. So you make them feel so by doing your digging and reflect your findings in your quality response.

If you feel that the above is too much of a daunting task, do not be afraid! We are here to help you get yourself ready and we are also expert bid writers ready to take on the process of writing a high quality tender response using all of the above! Feel free to contact us today for a no obligation chat on how we can help you secure your next big public sector contract.

Bid Libraries

Bid Libraries

Here we have our top tender tip regarding bid libraries!

Bid libraries can be an invaluable tool to organisations and bid teams who are tendering regularly for contract work. But our top tender tip to you would be to make sure you don’t fall into some very costly bad habits that can come with such a resource.

It is all too easy when you have a bid library to forget the most important rules when tendering. You see a question about quality management, for example, and think you have a response for that from another bid you have recently submitted. You pop into your library, copy the response and paste it over.

Noo! When you do this you stop doing the initial work that you need to do to ensure that you are going to score highly. You haven’t deconstructed the question, which invariably is going to be phrased differently and have different emphasises that the one you answered previously. You haven’t considered the different specifications between the two tenders, and how this should be influencing the pros you put into a response.

You also haven’t considered how recent the copy is that you are lifting from your library. Has your organisation changed or improved its arrangements around Quality Management since then? Maybe you now have a fancy UKAS ISO9001:2015 certificate? Perhaps the response could have scored higher in the first place, or you have been given feedback that you are yet to incorporate within your library. There are so many ways in which simply copying a response and pasting it over is detrimental to your approach to tendering.

Instead we propose a different approach to bid libraries. It is very important to have a centralised database of facts, figures and evidence of all shapes and sizes. These are the things that will not only inform your narrative responses, but will also help you stand out from the crowd.

You need to have your policies, procedures, certificates, examples, case studies, evidence and a solid body of statistics and reports etc that you can use for each bid. You can even keep hold of previous responses that you know have scored particularly highly, but you should never simply drag and drop these into new tenders. These should be used as a jumping off point only, something to inform your narrative, to make sure you don’t forget to mention anything important. The structure of the response should always reflect the specific question you are answering, and so should that specific specification. This structure should then inform the narrative you create.

For more tips and information like this you can follow us on social media, just search for Bid and Research Development! Alternatively you can sign up to our Newsletter here.

What is a PQQ document?

What is a PQQ document?

Many people ask ‘What is a PQQ document?’ A PQQ is the acronym of Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, often the first stage in a procurement process for goods and services. PQQs are designed to draw out necessary information about your organisation, including:

  • company name,
  • address,
  • contact details,
  • trading history,
  • finances,
  • insurances
  • credentials and certifications
  • SHEQ arrangements
  • Equality & Diversity
  • Social/added value arrangements
  • And many more!

It is designed to filter out organisations who would not be suitable to deliver the contract you are bidding for. It is also your first opportunity to showcase why your company is best placed to be awarded the contract.

PQQs reduce the administrative burden on the organisation who has put the contract out to tender as it ultimately limits the amount of companies who will be able to complete a tender return. Often only 3-8 bidders will be successfully invited to tender (the next and often final stage of the procurement process), and potentially dozens of companies will be vying for one of those places at the PQQ stage.

Pre-Qualification Questionnaires used to be seen as a simple ‘box ticking’ exercise or application form, but as the tendering arena has become more and more competitive it has become all the more important to dedicate time and energy to ensure your PQQ return is of the highest possible quality.

PQQs can hugely vary in size, scope and severity, but efforts have been made in recent years to standardise this stage. All questionnaires for procurement exercises undertaken on the NEPO Portal are the same, for example, regardless of if it’s for Northumberland County Council or Redcar and Cleveland Council. Another example would be PAS91, which is a standardised Publicly Available Specification facilitated by BSI Standards Limited. This has been produced to streamline the qualification process and reduce costs for tendering for contracts namely in the construction industry.

Hopefully we’ve answered the question ‘What is a PQQ document?’. If you are struggling at the PQQ stage and need some assistance in standing out from the sea of competitors, our team of award winning bid writers are on hand to guide you through every stage of the procurement process.

£21.3 BILLION awarded to SMEs…

£21.3 BILLION awarded to SMEs…

Its old news that the UK Government set ambitious targets of awarding 33% of all public sector contracts to SMEs by 2020.

That 33% equates to over £21.3 BILLION worth of contracts each year awarded to SMEs in the UK alone. This presents a huge opportunity for aspiring Entrepreneurs to secure long term sustainable public sector contracts which can act as a foundation for significant organisational growth.

A lot of companies think they are too niche or too small to tender but this isn’t true. As long as you are established, have a good track record of delivery and a solid set of accounts (typically 2 years worth) you are in a strong position to tender.

Opportunities are hugely varied with services and products of all kinds procured. We have selected a few of the weird and wonderful ones below:

  • Supply of an inflatable boat if anyone has one spare click this link
  • Supply of Milk and bread anybody… You will need a big Milk float to supply Wolverhampton Hospital. click for detail
  • Supply of over £6m worth of ‘Premium Colouring Pens’ this is not a joke- have a look click this link
  • Conservation of Maritime Paintings??? for Hull City Council. Surely a real skill but rather niche click for details
  • Weight Management and Personal Training in the East Midlands. click for detail
  • Wigs and Associated products- over £9.5m worth! for the NHS. check this link
  • An opportunity for communities to bid for funds to purchase their local pub!
    More than a Pub is a unique three year programme established to help support community ownership of pubs in England and grow the range of services they offer to help local people. Its value is £3.85 million and is jointly funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Power to Change.So who’s buying a pub with me? https://www.plunkett.co.uk/more-than-a-pub

Whatever you are supplying, someone will be buying (if there are not you may need to give your business plan serious consideration e.g. chocolate fire guards are not fit for purpose)

Often the more niche the better as you have less competition in comparison to highly competitive markets such as cleaning, low value website design, security etc.

If you would like to explore opportunities in your sector please just get in touch and we will happily help you look for appropriate opportunities free of charge.

Thanks for reading

Tim

07877 700 701

tim@bidandresearch.com

How to be Lucky…

How to be Lucky…

Luck is a complex issue and one that is hard/impossible to quantify, but it is also something that is so commonly misquoted. Hardly anyone ever achieves anything of significance without a huge amount of hard work and sacrifice, yet the successful are so often referred to as lucky. In our latest video we address the issue of luck and explain how you can actively become more lucky.

Have a watch. If you like what you see please subscribe by clicking the link below and if there is anything you would like us to cover in future please just get in touch. We are busy working away developing a series of bid writing videos. These teach you everything you could want to know about bids/tenders so keep watching. For the time being lets all be a bit more lucky…

Subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh9cyQYUHkFP9W2dhR8SfSg

 

Thanks for reading/watching

Tim

07877 700 701

tim@bidandresearch.com

 

Where to find Bid/Tender opportunities…

Where to find Bid/Tender opportunities…

Across the UK public sector organisations run approximately 1,400 individual tender portals which causes a little confusion about where to find bid and tender opportunities!

Public Sector contracts offer a huge opportunity to UK businesses with over £65 Billion worth of contracts advertised each year in the UK. With Government targets to hit, public sector organisations have to ensure that £21.3 Billion of that is awarded to SMEs each year- there is a very real opportunity for aspirational Entrepreneurs.

Hopefully we can provide a little clarity, many of the opportunities are listed on numerous tender portals. We have listed the key portals below which cover the majority of public sector tenders. Just hit the highlighted links below and explore a world of opportunity…

Contracts Finder– typically contains around 80% of Local Authority opportunities across England with an inconsistent range of opportunities from Housing Associations, NHS etc. it can be useful to find contract award notifications and contract renewal dates.

Pro contract due north is a great resource. Over 400 different portals across England were consolidated in to one tender portal covering Local Authorities, Some Housing Associations, some NHS trusts and an assortment of other organisation

Wales and Scotland have made things a little easier. The two Welsh portals- etender Wales and sell2wales should cover every public sector opportunity and Public Contracts Scotland covers every opportunity all in one portal.

TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) is where you will find OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) notifications. This is a list of all high value public contracts from across Europe. Once an opportunity reaches a certain value/threshold (which varies by sector) the opportunity must be advertised in the journal.

Two other key resources are the portals which advertise MoD Contracts although they are quite strict on who can sign up and what you can view with a lot of their opportunities quite sensitive in nature. The emergency services portal- Blue Light is also a useful resource.

We couldn’t include everything but this a good selection. If you have a particular sector or type of organisation that you are targeting get in touch and we are happy to point you in the right direction to find suitable opportunities. If you do find what seems to be the right opportunity why not read our blog which provides practical tips to help you pursue the best opportunities- Picking the perfect tender

Thanks for reading and thing else you would like us to cover just let us know.

Best of luck finding your own bid and tender opportunities!

Tim

07877 700 701

tim@bidandresearch.com