Tendering is like taking an exam. What answers will get your company that all important A?

Public sector tendering is not easy. The reason large companies win a vast proportion of work is because a lot of smaller companies do not understand the pressures faced by commissioners: restrictive budgets, tight timelines, and perceived risks associated with safety, systems and resources. As the old adage goes, “No-one gets fired for hiring IBM” so compliance and trust are essential and what you say in your response needs to stack up.

At Talent Lab we understand that fundamentally if you answer the questions to meet the scoring criteria then your company stands a much better chance of being shortlisted. However, gaining trust through a faceless medium, with no interaction is really challenging. This might be the first time they have heard about your company and this first response needs to gain their trust. Responding with relevant evidence-based answers to their questions is an essential first step.

We have worked with all sizes of companies across a range of sectors and the rules are the same for every company. View it just like an exam. You turn over your paper at the same time (publication date) and you look for what answers carry the most marks. Stick to the rules regarding submission – you will be surprised how little space they leave you to explain why your company should build the next Paddington Station. Plan the detail systematically so you have enough time to ‘breathe’ life into explaining where can add real value.

Do your homework

But like an exam, if you leave it to the night before to revise your subject, you will not pass. Experienced suppliers to the public sector will already know when the tender is being published and will have spent months if not years planning their approach: Where are their strengths and weakness compared to other potential bidders? Who can they partner with to offer a stronger proposition? What skills are needed to deliver more value? Who knows the client’s real concerns? The last part is key. 

Be engaged

The government has pushed the role of PINS – or Prior Information Notices – as a way of engaging with the market early prior to tender release.  This will be evolving with more visibility of their future pipeline as described in the 2021 Green Paper: Transforming public procurement. A ‘tell us once’ approach to procurement compliance should make things simpler although we expect this will take a while to embed across the various departments and portals.

Embrace change

Recent changes to the scoring awarded to social value elements, alongside a commitment to encourage best-in-class technology, mean that smaller, nimble suppliers, with relevant experience, do stand a better chance of winning work. However, if you do not provide a compliant and compelling answer to the question, you won’t get that all important ‘A’ for ‘Award’.

Caroline Brock

Caroline Brock

Co-Director of Talent Lab. Bid Strategist. Bid Writer. Social Value Practitioner. Likes facts. Negroni lover. Get in touch if you would like to discuss anything in this post or want to know more about any tools I've mentioned.

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