Finding the opportunity that's right for you
The benefits of tracking tender opportunities are well-known to businesses that recognise the positive growth and revenue security that long-term contracts bring. However, how do you make the most of the tendering system to achieve these benefits?
Our personal tender tracker expert Jennie has set out the key things to do to find the best tender opportunities quickly and to develop a strong pipeline of regular tender opportunities without costing lots of time and money:
1. Use free resources
All public sector contracts are in the public domain and therefore are listed on free websites. There are two main ones covering all UK contracts, TED (Tenders Electronic Daily-Supplement to the Official Journal of the EU) and Contracts Finder. There is no need to pay a fee to a website to be able to search for tenders, or to access the information.
2. Use the search functionality on these websites to narrow down the search to the best opportunities
You want to maximise your chances of finding the right tenders for your business.
3. Tender search terms are key
Each of these sites allow you to put in a search term to find the most relevant and appropriate contract opportunities. Use the jargon that your industry uses and start with the core services that you offer e.g. electrical testing, farm management, cleaning services and try at least five different search terms. When you see something that looks like it might be a good opportunity check and log the terms that are used and then use those in your next search. It’s worth trying a number of different terms as these sites will bring up very different opportunities in each search even if you think the terms mean the same thing! Try common misspellings or a two-word phrase that is sometimes written as one.
4. Narrow the dates
It sounds obvious, but timing is key. You want to find an Invitation to Tender (ITT) as soon as you can after it has been published so that you have the most time available to be able to respond.There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect opportunity with only two days to submission! At most, put a month date range in your first search but ideally narrow it down to a maximum of 1 week (this means you also need to check on a regular basis to ensure you don’t miss something!)
5. Advanced Search on TED & OJEU
The advanced function has some additional fields which can be off-putting. Ignore ‘Document Number’, ‘Contract’ and ‘Edition Number’ for a search i.e. it’s OK to leave those blank to ensure you capture everything available and ensure you’re not missing out on anything. Instead focus on the ‘Type of Document’ field. There is a list of options which come up when you click on it. Click on all the options that have a ’call for competition’ in their name plus ‘contract notice’, ‘dynamic purchasing system’, and ‘request for proposals’. You should have 9 types of tender notification highlighted. This will give you a comprehensive set of new tender opportunities and save time in the long-run.
6. Tender titles can be misleading
Once you’ve launched your search and have a list to look at it’s worth taking a little more time here to read the notification in more detail even if you think the title is only vaguely related to what you’re looking for. For instance, if you’re an architect it can be worth having a look at the tender notifications that describe themselves with ‘Construction’ in the title, which is a very general term and can be applied to lots of different types of businesses as well as an architect. Within a tender notification there can also be ‘Lots’ for different elements of the contract – one of which could be more relevant to you, so have a read through and apply the following criteria to make an efficient decision on whether it is worth pursuing further.
7. Review the notification
As some procurement exercises can be much larger and more complex than others, the amount of information that is given in a tender notification can differ greatly; however, there should always be the following key information to read to assist with your narrowing down, decision to explore further and ultimately bid:
- Name and details of contracting authority – Have you worked with them and/or similar organisations before?
- Scope and descriptions of the procurement exercise – Are the requirements within your existing capability and previous experience?
- Place of performance i.e. where the contract is. Is the location important to what you do e.g. delivery times? If so, are you able to offer benefits to the buyer of being closer?
- Estimated contract value – Is the size of the contract appropriate to your current financial stability? The usual rule of thumb (that buying organisations will use in their evaluation, unless specified otherwise) is your turnover must be at least 2X the annual value of the contract.
- Contract duration and dates – Are you able to fully mobilise and implement the requirements of the contract within the timescales specified?
- Conditions for participation – Are you able to meet these conditions, which may include pass/fail requirements on having appropriate licences, registrations, qualifications, meet minimum standards etc?
- Procedure for tendering and the submission deadline – Given your resources to prepare an appropriate and contract winning tender, are you able to meet the deadline for submission?
If you can answer yes to all, or at least some of the above criteria, then the tender opportunity is worth exploring further by registering interest and then accessing and reading the tender documents. Read our detailed guide on how to analyse whether a tender is right for you here.
8. Go back after a week and do the same thing
Search using all of your logged searches and this time, you only need to include 1 week within the date range. This will narrow your search window significantly and present you with only the latest tender opportunities without duplicating your last efforts. If you keep doing this each week and keep up to date, it should be a much quicker process.
9. If this all sounds too much like hard work, then get an expert to do it!
Complete Tenders provides a Personal Tender Tracking service that does all the hard work for you. Our specialist team will shortlist only those tender opportunities that are a good fit for your business using years of experience in winning contracts. We will help you make informed decisions to bid to ensure you achieve the most successful return on your tendering investment.