Using Red Tape as an Excuse? The Reality of Public Sector Tenders

Using Red Tape as an Excuse? The Reality of Public Sector TendersThere’s much talk of ‘red tape’ being the reason behind businesses, especially smaller ones, losing out on valuable tenders. But whilst bureaucracy can certainly slow things down, is it really stopping you from winning business altogether?

For anyone new to tendering for contracts, it can be a daunting process. Once you’ve found something that looks suited to what your business does, there is then the inevitable Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) which increasingly requires registration on an online system. However, the reality is, these questionnaires do not go beyond asking the fundamentals. Rob Fenn at the British Assessment Bureau delves further into the subject below…

The argument

It’s government’s duty to spend taxpayer’s money wisely. Rightly so, we would complain if contracts were awarded without the competency of suppliers being checked, so should your business be judged any differently?

Accordingly, it’s important that buying authorities check the basics of any would-be supplier; are they a stable company that will still be here in a year’s time? Can they demonstrate previous experience? Are they committed to delivering good service? This is the sort of evidence you will need to demonstrate.

Standing out

Depending on your area of expertise, you may find bidding for contracts extremely competitive. As a result, demonstrating you are financially sound and have the relevant policies and insurances in place are imperative. Policies you will be expected to have may include:

  • Quality Policy
  • Environment / Sustainability Policy
  • Equal Opportunities Policy
  • Health and Safety Policy

Without the policies above in place and every box ticked, the chances are that you won’t get to the next stage of the bidding process. Likewise, demonstrating you have recently delivered in similar projects is important in giving the buying authority confidence.

Due to the sheer number of submissions, it’s important that you answer all questions fully. Often, a clinical approach is taken to scoring these submissions, so failing to answer a question could result in all your efforts being in vain.

Explaining how you would approach and deliver is sometimes the only opportunity to convey some personality within your bid. With the above points in mind, it’s important that your approach covers every point mentioned within the documentation.

With tendering moving online, sometimes a printed submission is no longer needed. However, it is not unusual to be asked to submit both an online bid and to send a hard copy. Be sure this hard copy matches the PQQ layout exactly and ensure it is easily legible and well presented.

Saving time with ISO standards

Your first tender bid will take time, and many will hire the help of a consultant in order to ensure they put their best foot forward and have a good template to work from with future opportunities.

When it comes to the required policies, there are often questions asked about the integrity of your quality systems requiring detailed answers. After all, the buyer wants to ensure you are doing more than supplying a piece of paper; they want to see that you’re living and breathing what you say. If similar questions are asked about your environmental or health and safety credentials, it can prove to be exhaustive. In fact, some simply can’t answer in full because they don’t have that level of processes in place.

This is where certification to ISO standards comes in. Internationally recognised and suitable for all businesses, they not only help you to score well in tender bids, but save masses of time when filling them out. It also avoids ambiguity, as its normal for those with ISO certification to be able to skip questions on the aforementioned matters. How so? Because certification involves a third-party assessing your business’ quality, environmental or health and safety management credentials, it gives buying authorities confidence.

Increasingly then, achieving certification to these popular ISO standards is seen as a way of opening doors to new business. Not only has this been brought up by the Forum of Private Business, but there are numerous businesses out there willing to attest to it being the difference between winning and losing work.

We are able to get through pre-tenders and as a result we are able to get work. Having ISO in place is critical for our business.”

Catherine Convery, Explosive Learning Solutions Limited

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