Tendering Support for SMEs

8th May 2019

Tendering Help for SMEs

Last updated: Oct, 10, 2021 @ 11:30 am

If you’re an SME, you already have plenty of stress without having to worry about tendering for work too. This blog will help you tender more effectively and understand how winning tenders can help your business grow.

Where can I find the right tender opportunities?

There are dozens of tenders released daily by clients which will fit with your business growth plans. Finding, shortlisting, and tendering for the right opportunities, however, is one of the most time-consuming parts of tendering for SMEs. Plus, you need to make sure you stand out.

If only there was someone who could help do that work for you, right?

Hudson Succeed specialises in providing help for SMEs looking to tender. We have 11 sector-specific portals which are tailored to your specific requirements.

What are the opportunities for my SME?

In recent times there has been an explosion in the number of opportunities your SME can tender for. Naturally, it will depend on your expertise, but some examples include:

  • Central Government

In 2017 the Government spent £12Bn with SMEs; that’s a big pot of money to miss out on if you are not tendering for these bids, and it’s only getting bigger:

  • Central Government’s SME panel is working to ensure that by 2022, £1 of every £3 spent, goes to SMEs.
  • The MOD has targets to ensure 25% of all annual spending goes to SMEs by 2020
  • Local Governments and the Public Sector

Local governments run procurement processes for nearly all services they deliver. In recent years local governments, authorities, councils, and services have all changed their methods to encourage SMEs to tender:

  • Breaking their requirements into smaller packages of work to encourage SME engagement
  • Social Value targets to promote local SMEs to tender for local opportunities
  • Private Sector

Your SME can also tender for works with larger private sector companies. Unlike the public sector, private sector opportunities are mostly advertised by companies looking to get additional or specialist support as part of their supply chain.

Larger companies will win an initial large public sector contract but will be unable to deliver all the services. To do this, they will themselves become a buyer and subcontract out parts of the works they need support with.

One example of this is HS2:

In 2017 – HS2 contracts worth more than £6bn were awarded to large private companies through tendering. Much of this was designed to be subcontracted to smaller companies including SMEs. This means many SMEs are benefitting from this large contract by working with larger companies across the private sector.

Get in touch with Hudson Succeed to find out how we can help your SME tender for the right opportunities.

Why is it important I Tender?

SMEs make up over 99% of all private sector businesses in the UK, and yet SME businesses are achieving only small percentages of tendering opportunities.

You may feel that tendering is confusing, frustrating, time-consuming, and unrewarding, and you’re not alone. It’s the main reason why SMEs tend to avoid submitting tenders. But it still has plenty of advantages if you give it a go.

However, with the uncertainty of Brexit looming over the UK, the public sector needs UK based SMEs to provide goods and services more than ever.

Misconceptions that stop SMEs from tendering

Since the enforcement of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the directives, regulations, and policies relating to the procurement of supplies, works and services in the public sector have stepped up a notch. In plain English, since the government have set stricter and more immutable rules around the purchasing of goods and services with public money, the procurement and tendering process have gained prominence.

Indeed, government tenders are gaining ground, importance and visibility and are rapidly becoming the most effective and common way for local authorities and government departments to handle their purchasing. Hence, it is worth understanding a little more about government tenders, how to approach them, their benefits and common mistakes associated with the tendering process. Moreover, since the majority of government tenders are online, it is worth considering the implications of this relatively new, streamlined approach to the process.

Common misconceptions surrounding online government tenders:

  • “There is a common formula”

I’m afraid not! You’d be hard pushed to find anything other than vague similarities between the majority of online government tenders. As is no surprise in the procurement sector, there is no simple answer, nor one single formula that can be used across the board. (If only!) Absolutely, as procurement experts, we can never stress enough that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work for online government tenders. If there were a single solution to every bid, we’d be out of a job! Whilst it is sometimes possible to predict question “themes” depending on the sector, e.g. a greater emphasis on health and safety in the construction industry, I’m afraid to say the similarities end there. Many bidders fall down by kidding themselves that it is possible to replicate responses across the board. Rather, it is the case that online government tenders simply don’t work that way.

Bidders need to recognize that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach and take care to cover off the requirements of each bid individually. If you’d like a hand making sure your bid ticks the right boxes and addresses the buyer’s requirements, talk to our Hudson Succeed team today. Our internal team of procurement experts have lots of help and guidance to offer as well as being able to handle your tender submission directly.

  • “If I go in cheap, I will win”

Not necessarily! A low price will certainly not compensate for a hasty, incomplete, or sloppy quality response. Whilst it is true that bidders for online government tenders should price as competitively as possible, this is not the only factor. Online government tenders are typically (but not always!) evaluated on a balance of price and quality. It is important to look at the requirements of each individual opportunity. Of course, if a tender is scored on a 100% price basis, but still includes a quality aspect, you probably won’t need to exhaust yourself by writing in-depth responses. And vice versa! But, it is important not to completely disregard the other, or non-assessed aspect. Sloppiness will not reflect well on your organisation when it comes to online government tenders. Simply, look at the evaluation criteria and manage your time, focus your efforts, and respond accordingly.

  • “I don’t need to read the specification”

Don’t let yourself down at the first hurdle. All government tenders online will have a specification. This might be in the form of a single page of A4, or a 300-page document. Whichever it might be, read it! It might seem tiresome, but it is important. Many bidders overlook the fact that you can’t realistically hope to respond to a buyer’s requirements if you don’t know what those requirements actually are. We know the specification can be a lot to digest. If you’re struggling, contact our Hudson Succeed Team today. Our experts can provide a second pair of eyes, some help and advice or write your submission for you.

  • This is the least of my worries right now”

Now, this isn’t the attitude that’s going to win you new work! A lot of bidders let themselves down by pushing the application for online government tenders down their priority list and rushing to submit at the last minute. It is important to take an online government tender seriously if you choose to embark on the bid process. Don’t underestimate the amount of work that can be involved and the returns that are up for grabs if you are prepared to put in the effort. Time Management and prioritising is key! In fact, check out our Tender VLE Time Management video for loads of helpful hints and tips. If you need someone to take the process off your hands, contact our Hudson Succeed team today who can explain more about our Tender Writing Services and Tender Management Services.

Why bid for online government tenders?

Now you might be sat there thinking that your business has been ticking along nicely without the need to bid for work. And this might be true, but it is worth not overlooking the benefits of tendering.

  • Diversification

Winning key government tenders within your sector will help you to diversify your income streams rather than relying on one source. This is especially important for the third sector where income might be primarily from grants, bursaries and donations. Online government tenders will give such organisations the security of a regular income beyond this to help make their long-term strategy a reality.

  • Sustainable income

Winning a government contract will lend sustainability and consistency to your income and help deliver continuous growth. The benefits of this go without saying. This helps businesses plan better, manage their cash flow, forecast more accurately and make more precise assessments of their assets and liabilities.

  • Expansion

Online government tenders can provide businesses with a regular and consistent income stream for up to twenty years. And we all know that prosperity breeds prosperity. With greater disposable cash, businesses can expand, hire more staff, and increase their profits even further. Indeed, online government tenders afford businesses the perfect opportunity to do so.

OK, but I need help to tender!

By working with Hudson, we can help your SME tender for contracts, removing your headaches throughout the process and drive your business growth.

We appreciate that one size does not fit all, and we have a range of services available for your SME to ensure we provide the right help for your company whatever stage of tendering you’re at: 

  • Tender VLE

Hudson Succeed have created a Virtual Learning Environment dedicated to building tendering knowledge. We believe everyone should invest in their own learning and development and what better way to do it than accessing free, knowledgeable, and professional tender help at any time to suit your needs.

Check our Tender VLE platform here: Tender VLE

  • Our experts recommend starting with Tender Ready

Our Tender Ready programme can help your SME understand how to respond to public and private sector tenders.

We have established a proven method for helping business no matter how small to become tender ready. We achieve this through working with you to identify your tendering sweet spot based on your knowledge, experience and service offering.

If you are looking to be fully prepared to tender…. Tender Ready is for you. 

The service includes:

  • Professional Tender Portfolio development.
  • Basic tender knowledge support.
  • Expert advice regarding the opportunities that you should be bidding for based on your companies economic financial standing.
  • Content production of the most frequently requested tender documentation including company policies, team profiles and internal procedures.
  • Case study development and tender response advice.
  • Once this content is developed you are ready to tender! But our bid support doesn’t end there. As part of the Tender Ready service, you will also be entitled to a review of your first two bids OR our tender experts will write your first bid on your behalf, using the documents we have created.

Tendering can be quite daunting, especially if you have never responded or even seen what a tender looks like.

The first stages of tendering are crucial in ensuring that you get it right, and this is part of what we call being “Tender Ready”.

Indeed, before you even decide on a contract to bid for, there are a few things that you can have prepared in advance that will make your life much easier when it comes to developing tenders.

We have provided our Top 4 things that you need to consider when being Tender Ready:

1 – Experience & Technical Capabilities

Firstly, buyers need to see the past experience of your delivery.

To provide the buyer with confidence in your ability to undergo the work involved, you need to demonstrate you can actually deliver the work you’re bidding for, by providing thorough, detailed and robust examples of where you have delivered similar work in the past.

Be organised and prepare at least three good case studies for each service you offer, detailing the timescale and value, achievements, outcomes, challenges and lessons learned.

For more information about writing a great case study, see our “Case studies” video via Tender VLE.

2 – Policies & Procedures

Secondly, make sure your organisation possesses the relevant policies and procedures, in which you actively implement and use every single day. This may vary depending on the sector, but the most important ones consist of the following:

  • Health and Safety policy
  • Equality and Diversity policy
  • Quality Policy
  • Environmental Policy
  • Customer Service / Complaints policy etc.

3 – Organisational Structure

Thirdly, we recommend you have a clear team structure with a chain of command, clearly defined roles and responsibilities and deputising and reporting procedures.

Using an organogram, or organisation chart can be a useful, simple and visually appealing way of presenting your organisational structure to the buyer that lets them see who does what and who manages each area.

Such information can be backed up by detailed and clear team profiles and CVs.

4 – Boilerplate Responses & Generic Content

Fourthly, it is a great idea to have a bank of pre-prepared “boilerplate responses” – templates for responses to questions or topics which often come up, or which can be reasonably anticipated.

These save you precious time and resources, meaning your work on a given response might only be a few tweaks here and there to tailor it to the question being asked, allowing you to divert your energies to more specific, technical and in-depth questions.

Being Tender Ready involves demonstrating to buyers that you understand how your organisation operates, what it is you offer, your resources, experience and your ethos.

It’s hard to convince a buyer to choose you if it looks like you yourself don’t know what you’re talking about and you have multiple inconsistencies across your brand, as well as having little to no evidence of previous delivery.

Getting the necessary information together and producing high-quality literature that is detailed and clear is a mammoth task, but an important first step.

Tender help: how should I write my proposal?

Here are some of our tender help tips for those SMEs writing their own proposals. These are only a handful of things you should keep in mind. We cover a lot more of this through our Tender VLE courses.

  1. Make sure you write a high-quality proposal

One of our most important tender help tips is that you need to write a high-quality proposal. How well written your proposal is will determine how the buyer perceives you and your company. So, you need to leave the best impression possible.

Your proposal should not have grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or punctuation faults. The best way to make sure you’ve caught all errors is to thoroughly reread your work. You should also ask at least one other person to check it through too. You could even have your device read it aloud to you. This is a great way of picking up mistakes you would otherwise have missed.

If you don’t check over your work, you risk appearing unprofessional. A buyer will not take you as seriously if you cannot be thorough with your proposal. You also need to use communication skills to get your ideas across.

  1. Stick to the word counts

A lot of the time, the tender document will specify a word count. So, when answering a question, make sure you get as close to this as possible. If they ask for 500 words, that’s what they want. A little over or under won’t be the difference between a win or a loss. But you do need to be clear and concise. So, no 1000 word rambling or only 100 words that barely touch the surface. You need to directly address the question and keep it close to the word count.

  1. Make sure you read the documents carefully

There are a lot of people who do not read tender documents before they decide to bid. This is a huge loss on their part the majority of the time. This is because they often are not eligible for the contract in the first place.

If you are eligible, then you should check over the key dates and exactly what needs doing. You need to make sure you have enough time and resources to dedicate to your bid. Tendering can be stressful and time-consuming, so you should make sure early on that you have what it takes. You certainly don’t want to dedicate all this effort to a bid for it to be unsuccessful.

  1. Showcase your previous experience

Our final tender help tip is to showcase your experience. This is probably a requirement in the tender anyway, but still, it is important to include them. Just like a job interview, you stand more chance by showing previous and relevant experience.

The buyer may ask for up to 3 case studies showcasing your experience. So, make sure they are the best choices to express your professionalism and skillset.

If you’re feeling confused by the tendering process, daunted, or are needing that all-important first step in the right direction, then our Tender Ready service is the one for you!

  • Tender Writing 

Our tender writing service can help SMEs who either don’t know how to tender or don’t have writing capabilities in house.

If there is a tender you want Hudson to bid for, we will provide a full breakdown, a list of tender requirements (information we need from you) and a timeline for tender submission.

Talk to us about how we can help your Tender Writing. 

  • Tender Improvement

 At Hudson, we can also help SMEs who have experience submitting a tender but haven’t had many wins.

We appreciate this can be frustrating and can help you avoid making common mistakes. We can re-organise your bid library, offer knowledge and guidance on how to tender in the first place.

This help is one-to-one and tailored to your SME tender needs.

If you think this help is something you would benefit from – get in touch today and discuss how Tender Improvement can help you succeed. 

  • Tender Mentor

If your SME is already tendering, but you want to ensure your tender is as strong as it can be, Hudson can help.

We can provide external help, guide and review services. We will mark your draft response just how the buyer will and provide feedback to help you improve your final submitted tender.

Using our Tender Mentor service provides long-lasting benefits for your tender submissions.

How to get started

Here at Hudson, we are experts in considering these requirements and developing winning bids which meet the funding needs of the buyer. So if you’re an SME looking for tender opportunities, give our team a call to discuss how our Bid Writers can help your SME business needs.

Remember also to check out our virtual learning environment, Tender VLE, the first of its kind to provide advice and tips on all things tendering.

Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including: hello got the cheeky little link at the bottom there I will see the future


Share This Insight

A Bid Writer


Similar Insights

Tendering Process for Technology Contracts
Latest Insights 29th June 2023

Tendering Process for Technology Contracts

Tendering Process for Technology Contracts  Winning technology contracts relies on a combination of experience in…

Read More
Win Tenders in the Hospitality Sector: Laundry, Catering and more!
Latest Insights 12th June 2023

Win Tenders in the Hospitality Sector: Laundry, Catering and more!

Win Tenders in the Hospitality Sector: Laundry, Catering and more! Winning hospitality tenders relies on…

Read More
Tender VLE: Our Virtual Bid Learning Environment
Latest Insights 5th June 2023

Tender VLE: Our Virtual Bid Learning Environment

Tender VLE It’s simple — to win contracts, you must have the necessary skills of…

Read More
How to Win Healthcare Tenders: Our 10 Top Tips!
Latest Insights 23rd May 2023

How to Win Healthcare Tenders: Our 10 Top Tips!

How to Win Healthcare Tenders: Our 10 Top Tips! Winning healthcare tenders is a skill…

Read More
How to Become a Tender Expert
Latest Insights 10th May 2023

How to Become a Tender Expert

How to Become a Tender Expert Becoming a tender expert is a surefire way to…

Read More
Top 10 Tendering Secrets
Latest Insights 3rd May 2023

Top 10 Tendering Secrets

Top 10 Tendering Secrets It is no secret that the tendering process can be complex…

Read More

Let’s get started.

Call for a FREE consultation with our Tender Writing Consultants or simply send us an email and a team member will contact you.

Request a Callback