The all-island public procurement market is worth approximately €12.1bn. This represents an untapped market for small firms to increase sales and win steady business.

SMEs often comment that they don’t know where to go to identify contract opportunities in the public sector. Ironically public sector buyers are keen to work with SMEs, and the reason for this? Small business owners tend to be more invested in securing a positive outcome – they’re often agile, innovative and very accessible.

Here are some useful tips to help you find tendering success with the Public Sector.

Do your homework

Preparation is the key to submitting a great tender response, so it’s important to do your homework before you apply. Most public organisations tend to advertise their tenders on platforms such as eTendersNI, and eSourcing NI.

Don’t apply for every tender

Tender submission can take a lot of time and resource, so be sure that you should actually apply – don’t apply for every tender.  Focus your efforts and target the contracts that offer the greatest prospect of success. Only submit a tender if you believe you can and should win it!

Be competitive

You should always be competitive to make sure your bid document fully sells your company’s capability. Have a clear understanding of your business and look at new and innovative ways of providing a service that stands out from others.

Try not to misjudge what the buyer is looking for

You need to demonstrate from the outset that your company understands the client needs. Always research the tendering organisation and find out what exactly they’re looking for to increase your chances of success.

Consider the possibility of working with other companies

Joining forces with other firms can allow you to address gaps in experience and tender for larger, higher value contracts. These could open the door to further opportunities.

Government procurement organisations, Construction and Procurement Delivery in Northern Ireland and the Office of Government Procurement in Ireland make it easy to do this. Many tenders are broken into lots to make it easier for SMEs to compete for smaller work packages.

Invest time and resources to complete the tender response

Try and submit the tender 24 hours prior to the time stated for submission. If you are submitting your tender response via an online tendering platform, this will give you added time in case of any technical hiccups.

Create your team to complete a great tender response in a short time

The process, from receiving tender documentation, pulling together costs, liaising with colleagues and submitting the bid, can average around three weeks. Surround yourself with a good team and have one central control point for the tender.

Request tender feedback

Always seek feedback which you can build into your next approach. Reviewing a tender document after a win or a loss is equally important. This can be carried out internally within your company or by independent mentors or consultants.

Be Patient, tender success doesn’t always come easy

At the start, it may take a while to find the right approach, whether it’s getting your documents correct, or trial and error with applying for the right tenders.

Reach out to InterTradeIreland Tendering Supports

Their  Go-2-Tender programme can help you and your business learn how to write good quality tender responses.

Meet the Buyer events give SMEs access to key personnel and staff who can commission and procure goods & services on behalf of public sector clients.

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Credit: InterTradeIreland