How to Win Public Sector Tenders After a Pandemic

26th August 2020

How to win public sector tenders in the current climate 

Last updated: Dec 17, 2021 @ 10:22 am

As UK businesses focus on getting back on track, we have witnessed extraordinary changes in interest towards public sector tenders. According to Google Ads, the average monthly search queries for ‘public sector tenders’ increased by almost 50%. This search volume was compared between June 2019 and June 2020.

It would seem that more businesses are looking to use tendering in the public sector as a vital element of their business development strategy. If you have never tendered for contracts before, you might find yourself frequently searching queries such as “how to win public sector tenders”.

Don’t panic! Our team has been helping businesses to secure both public and private sector contracts for almost two decades.

In this blog, we’ll be offering our tips and advice on tendering for work after a pandemic. This information is based on the effects we’ve seen, first-hand, and stories we’ve heard from our clients.

Which sectors are seeing success?

By now (August 2020) we’re all aware that some sectors have emerged from the pandemic in a better position than others. Unfortunately, social distancing and hygiene measures have had devastating consequences on the hospitality and tourism industry. However, as we move into the next phase of recovery, we have seen tenders for these industries begin to increase.

For example, our Hospitality Tenders portal sources tendering opportunities for these industries. Our team reported a 70% increase in the volume of tenders over the last 30 days, compared to April 2020.

Some sectors reported huge profits during the pandemic. For example;

  • Online retailers

As more countries began to enforce lockdown restrictions, more of us moved our shopping online. Retailers such as Amazon were said to have seen astronomical sales figures. In April 2020, The Guardian reported that the retail giant was making $11,000-a-second.

  • Digital solutions

If you’re a fellow office worker, you will know that the word of 2020 is “Zoom”. Now used as a verb, e.g. “can we Zoom?”, the video conferencing platform has re-invented meetings and even events. According to Forbes, the platform surpassed previous industry leaders, GoToWebinar and Cisco, during the pandemic.

  • Supermarkets

Supermarkets remained open throughout the lockdown as “essential businesses”. Many stores experienced unprecedented stocking issues during the beginning of the quarantine amid fears of shortages. Many of us decided to recreate our own restaurant favourites. This flooded social media with homemade baking posts and recipe ideas. For supermarkets, this was an opportunity for profiting without incentives such as coupons and deals.

  • PPE and sanitising products

A more obvious industry to benefit from the pandemic was suppliers of protective equipment and sanitising products. Already established providers of PPE and hand sanitiser were accused of increasing prices during the uncertain time. Manufacturers of goods such as events merchandise were forced to be adaptable. Some re-structured their businesses to provide more essential products such as PPE.

  • Streaming services

During the first quarter of 2020, Netflix reportedly welcomed almost 16 million new subscribers. This was the largest jump in the company’s history, since its inception 13 years ago. In the UK, nightclubs, concert venues and some theatres are yet to re-open. As long as this continues, it doesn’t look as though Netflix’s popularity will be slowing down any time soon.

Why social value is more important than ever

In terms of the future of tendering, social value will be more crucial than ever. When considering how to win public sector tenders, one of your top priorities should be on social value.

Councils and public sector bodies will look for businesses that championed social value during the pandemic. They want to see how you added value to your community. Helping those around us during this time benefited our wellbeing, community relationships and the economy in ways that were previously unimagined.

If you are new to tendering, you might be asking “what is social value?”

In a nutshell, social value is the positive impact that the actions of your business have on society. This can be demonstrated to buyers in the form of;

  • Policies and procedures;
  • Spending;
  • Training;
  • Volunteering;
  • Community engagement;
  • Or mentoring, for example.

Sometimes, delivering contracts through public sector and council tenders can help to deliver a positive social impact. It is beneficial to support your local communities and, in turn, increase business engagement.

Read our “Adapting Your Council Tenders” blog for more information about adapting your social value examples in the current climate.

Get familiar with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Put simply, corporate social responsibility is the duty of businesses to consider the societies and environments impacted by them.

CSR can be proven by demonstrating that your business goes beyond the minimum legal standards of compliance. Your actions should be voluntary.

In the current climate, both buyers and consumers have a vested interest in your CSR. However, the way that you demonstrate this will vary from business to business. For example, larger companies will be able to make bigger impacts than SMEs. They simply have more resources at their disposal. However, every business needs to play a part, no matter their size.

At first, many businesses saw CSR as a form of philanthropy. Now that it has evolved, more companies are beginning to recognise the benefits CSR can add to their growth.

The most common methods of businesses demonstrating their CSR include;

  • Environmental benefits e.g. working to reduce the business’s carbon footprint or implementing cycle-to-work schemes;
  • Business benefits e.g. improving the quality of work for staff and supply chains;
  • And charitable benefits e.g. contributing to charity donations or volunteering within the local community. 

What was public sector tendering like before Covid?

To help you get a better insight into public sector tendering before the pandemic, we’re sitting down with our Head of Bid Management, Daniel Hall.

Q1. As far as public sector tenders in the UK go, what is the most difficult sector you have come across, and why?

Answer:Construction. The reason for this is due to the writing requiring a lot of industry-specific technical knowledge and skill. There are many regulations and legislative examples that you need to have in-depth knowledge of in order to develop compliant responses. Generally speaking, other areas of public sector tendering tend to be a lot more straightforward. This is not to discredit other sectors. Construction contracts are often much larger in nature and involve multiple suppliers operating collaboratively under one agreement. They usually require the delivery of very technical and high-cost work.”

Q2: What is a consistent trend in public sector tendering in the UK that SMEs should be aware of?

Answer: Social value. This is a key consideration, especially in the current climate when submitting responses to local councils. It is vital that you show how you will contribute to local communities with strong economic partnerships. It goes without saying that a supplier who can showcase what they can bring to local economies will definitely perform better than those that don’t. But what companies need to remember is that this needs to be a promise that is within reason and of course, deliverable. It is no good stating that you will hire 45 people within a ten-mile radius of the contract when you haven’t got the means to actually deliver this. Tendering holds no place for fantasy, keep your promises tangible and doable.

Another trend I am noticing within public sector tendering in the UK is ethical supply chain management. Now although this is usually geared towards larger conglomerates if SMEs showcase that they have strong supply chain management processes in place they will definitely stand in better stead than their competitors. Just because something is not a specific requirement does not mean you shouldn’t have this in place. Where reasonably achievable, going above and beyond is crucial in public sector tendering in the UK.”

Q3: What advice would you give someone who is new to tendering and looking to get on the ladder?

Answer: “Contact your local councils, ask about second-tier opportunities and subcontracting opportunities. Ask your local councils about large frameworks they have in your sector and ask if they need any additional subcontractor SMEs for additional assistance. This will help you get contractual experience which is absolutely essential when tendering in the UK. 99% of buyers want to see what experience you have before even considering your tender responses. Spending days on end developing detailed responses can be a waste of time if you have no experience to back them up.

Also, get your policies together, before you need them. Look at what accreditations you can be working towards, such as ISO 9001. Whilst this may not be a requirement for all tenders, this isn’t to say it won’t help. 60% of the public sector tenders we have worked on, require you to have this or at least have this in place prior to contract commencement.”

Q4. Are there any technologies you would recommend businesses invest in to strengthen their tendering efforts?

Answer: “Software can undoubtedly be beneficial for many companies when developing responses to public sector tenders in the UK. Whether we like it or not, technology is a massive part of everyone’s lives today. Tendering is no different. Often times, buyers will request that you outline what software you use. This is usually with reference to evidencing the completion of work in a remote fashion. In the facilities sector, this is very big.

For example, manned guarding and cleaning companies will definitely benefit from investment in software. For example, in manned guarding and cleaning, ECM systems such as Servicetrac can be massively beneficial. Not just with regard to your internal processes, but also with reference to your tendering efforts.”

Q5. Daniel, you and your team write a lot of facilities management bids. Are there any common trends you are seeing consistent throughout this sector?

Answer: “Although its important across multiple sectors, a consistently vital trend for businesses which fall within the facilities sector is being able to substantiate your claims. You must demonstrate that your company complies with all relevant legislation and regulations. For example, within cleaning it’s not sufficient to say you simply provide Health and Safety training. More and more suppliers are being expected to provide evidence of this. Evidence can be in the form of things such as Health and Safety policy, sample training logs, sample method statements, or similar.

Tendering is certainly coming to rely more heavily on evidence within the facilities sector. This is why ensuring your policies and company literature is in place is vital.”

To summarise, Daniel concluded:

  • Bid Management is always important when tendering, but when it comes to public sector tendering you need to ensure that all bases are covered before you start.”
  • “Ensuring that your policies and company literature are in place before you start writing responses will save you time in the long run.”
  • “Look at meaningful ways you can tangibly bring social value to the contracts you are tendering for. This is emerging as an increasingly important part of public sector tendering. Refining your approach to this will get you ahead of the game.”

Common Trends in Public Sector Tendering

We think it’s safe to say that every year, something new happens in the world of procurement due to the ever-changing landscape that buyers and suppliers constantly find themselves in. Here are, in our opinion, a small collection of common trends across UK Public Sector Tendering as of late:

Brexit 

The word coined to fill the hearts of many with either progressiveness or ultimate decline. The word in our opinion is met with uncertainty, especially in the way procurement will be running long-term. It has been recorded that “since Brexit, the total value of tenders has risen”, implying that there is more work than ever before up for grabs.

However, how long will it last? – well, there are no immediate changes due to the EU regulations being merged with primary UK legislation. However, we can expect a lot more focus on cost-effective supply chains that are held locally, given our departure from European partners. Risk assessments and the holistic management of contracts will surely be examined a lot more in technical questions based on the happenings of BREXIT.

Modern Slavery

Have you come across it yet? The question on an increasing amount of PQQs asking if you abide by Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015? What you may not know is that the act contains a clause on ‘Transparency in Supply Chains’, which addresses the role of businesses and what they do to prevent modern slavery from occurring in their supply chains and organisation[s].

As per Section 54, it states that if your organisation has a turnover of over £36 million or more you must confirm adherence and publish a ‘slavery and human trafficking’ statement annually on your company’s website. This must state what you are doing to prevent this. We find that SME’s tend not to worry about this, as it remains non-applicable 99% of the time, but still, it is something that is commonly being asked across the board. Don’t answer it incorrectly!

Social Value

What are you doing for your community? What environmental aims does your company have? Do you work with apprentices?  These are just a few of the questions that are becoming increasingly asked in public-sector tenders. Even if you are the smallest company around, it’s advised that you to think of your corporate and social responsibility. If you’re wondering how to win public sector tenders you cannot skip on social value. Consider how this is positively changing the world – or at least your local area. Every little helps!

We advise you do liaise with charities, apprenticeship providers, assess long-term goals and ensure that social value (aligned with a local authority and government initiatives) crops up one way or another. This is becoming a key contribution to finalising scores in ongoing tenders.

SME Focus

By 2020, the UK government has promised “big opportunities for small firms” as they are set to spend £1 in every £3 with small businesses/SMEs. One thing a lot of SMEs don’t have that bigger companies do is experienced and well-educated internal Bid Writing professionals. This means SMEs will see a surge of utilising external support functions and help to win public sector tenders. This will help ensure their tenders are of the highest quality.

We are one of those companies! Our aim is not to just write high-quality bids, but support you with understanding the procurement world. From opportunity tracking (using our elite and secure Hudson Discover platforms, related to each UK industry), tender training (using our upcoming FREE virtual learning environment with regular VLOGs) and eventually supporting you to maintain/develop your ongoing content for tendering (using Tender Bank). The increased use of Framework Agreements and Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS) and getting onto these, require rapid and high-quality responses to ensure longstanding work is won and sustained.

Where to find public sector tenders?  

When asking yourself how to win public sector tenders, the first obstacle is finding the right opportunities. We emphasise ‘right’ because there are numerous ways of finding public sector tenders. Extracting the best opportunities for your business is a different story.

Before you begin searching for public sector tendering opportunities, you should first implement a checklist. This checklist represents your ideal contract. For example;

  • Which buyers do you want to work with?
  • Where do you want to deliver the contract?
  • What is the maximum budget that you will be eligible for?
  • Which services will you be delivering?

Once you have established these answers internally, you can begin to search for tenders efficiently.

Hudson Discover

If your organisation is concerned about how to win public sector tenders, it all starts with identifying the right opportunities.

Hudson Discover is another arm to our business, under the Hudson Group. This is where we house our 11 sector-specific tendering portals. These portals were established as a response to how time-consuming the tender sourcing process can be.

When conducting research, we found that a third of tender notices were tagged with incorrect CPV codes. This means that even if you use a tender sourcing software, you will still see irrelevant opportunities. They use algorithms that read CPV codes and categorise the contracts based on this information.

We decided that our tendering portals would be different. None of our portals rely on codes or algorithms to source tenders. Instead, our team of Opportunity Trackers manually search thousands of sources daily to ensure our clients never miss a notice. They then upload each tender individually and tag them with industry-driven keywords.

This means that you can simply login, enter the keywords (services you offer) and instantly find relevant opportunities, making the tendering process much easier.

Extra support

Not only are our portals excellent time-saving tools, they also offer an abundance of expert support. When joining the portal, you won’t just be left to your own devices. You will be assigned an Account Manager to support you. Your Account Manager is there to answer any portal or general tendering-related questions. They can also refer you to our Hudson Succeed Bid Writers should you need support with responding to the tenders you find. You will also be entitled with 20-minutes of free phone consultancy every month. This allows you to speak to one of our consultants about;

  • Responding to a particular bid;
  • How to improve your bid success rate;
  • What you need to have in place before you start your first bid;
  • Or general queries about the tendering process.

Find your portal

Find the perfect portal for your organisation and book a free live demo. The demo will allow you to login to the system, see the current opportunities and understand how the portal can help your business.

Need help with your tender responses?

Are you new to tendering or are you not seeing success from the bids you’re submitting? If you’re wondering how to win public sector tenders, our bid writers can help.

At Hudson Succeed, our team has multi-disciplinary experience. We are experts in writing bids and we proudly hold an 87% bid success rate.

To ensure that we can support a varied range of businesses, we offer five dedicated services.

Tender Writing is our ad-hoc bid solution.

This service is perfect for businesses that only require one-off bid writing support. We understand that you might not have the internal resources to complete a reactive bid. Sick leave, maternity leave and furlough can massively impact your capabilities. This service includes the production of your tendering responses and the final bid submission.

Tender Ready is a unique programme for first-time bidders.

The service was designed for businesses that are new to tendering. During the programme, our Bid Writers will work with you to create all the corporate literature needed when tendering for work. Our team of Bid Designers will ensure that your organisation stands out. They will professionally brand your documents to showcase your business in the best light. Not only this, but our consultants will also help you to find your first tendering opportunity. Then, they can either write this bid on your behalf or guide you through the first two.

Tender Improvement can help you see more success.

The programme was developed to help businesses who are already tendering for work but not seeing success. We know that this can be frustrating. The tendering process can be incredibly time-consuming and consume your resources. Initially, our consultants will assess your previous bid responses. From there, they will provide recommendations for improvement. They will also analyse your corporate literature and create more effective documents where necessary. The package also includes a bid writing service for your next tender or guidance for your next two bids.

Tender Mentor will ensure an error-free submission.

This is our guide and review service. If you have already written your tender responses but need a second pair of eyes, this service is for you. Our Bid Writers will read your responses and check for any spelling or grammatical errors. They will also assess the content to ensure that your responses answer the specification in the most effective way. Instead of changing your work, our consultants will provide feedback for areas of improvement before you submit the final bid.

Further support

For more information about how to win public sector tenders, please call or email us. A member of the team will respond as soon as possible with more information.

All our bid writing services require an initial consultation. This will be conducted contact-free and usually takes place over the phone, or via a video call if preferred.

The Hudson Succeed team is proud to support over 700 businesses globally. Throughout the pandemic, we have been thrilled to work with almost 100 new clients. We have been working tirelessly to support these businesses with their tendering strategy during this difficult time.

Find details of our previous successes in our testimonials area.

Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:

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