Focus on pre-engagement activities if you want to win tenders.
That was the key message at yesterday’s TenderCon2 event. More than 80 Irish SMEs came together with government buyers at the Science Gallery to transform their businesses with a business-to-government strategy.
EU Procurement Law governs the process
Paul Quinn, CEO of the Office of Government Procurement (OGP), began his keynote address by highlighting that the tender process is governed by EU Procurement Law.
“We don’t create the process to frustrate businesses,” he reminded the audience.
The tender process is designed to prioritise trust, fairness, and transparency and provides Irish SMEs with access to a €3 trillion per annum EU tender market, in addition to the €9 billion per annum domestic Irish one.
Apart from sharing details of the OGP’s approach and procedures, he stressed that government buyers would like to see more SMEs engage with tenders as they actively want to award tenders to small and medium-sized enterprises
It’s what you do before that counts
Tony Corrigan, founder & CEO of TenderScout, agreed.
“I’m always asking various public departments why they don’t give more contracts to small businesses, and they’re always saying it’s because small businesses don’t come forward to compete,” Tony explained.
The two expert panels made up of the speakers below shared insights and tactics to help SMEs do just that:
- Sean Bresnan, Head of Procurement, HSE
- Ingrid de Doncker, CEO, IDDEA
- Nitika Agarwal, COO, Apolitical
- Mike McGrath, Managing Director, Arvo
- Edel Creely, CEO, Trilogy & President IBEC
- Stella Power, CEO, Annertech
Their advice includes:
- Meet the buyer
Most buyers want to meet new and small companies. A bit of internet research will yield names and contact details of buyers. Get in front of them to start building the relationship.
- Reassure buyers with a small piece of work
Buyers need to mitigate risk as far as possible. Making yourself known and offering to do a small piece of work for a modest rate shows the buyer what your business is capable of, and encourages them to trust you when larger contracts are on offer.
- Get to know the user too
Demonstrating that you understand the consumer of the product or service the buyer is looking to procure will provide you with a more robust proposal.
- Highlight your innovation
The EU is investing €142 million over the next two years to nurture SMEs and startups with innovative solutions to environmental, social and technological challenges. Government buyers are actively stating that they don’t know what they don’t know and wants businesses to guide them as to what future tenders should look like and be for.
- Create an archive
You’ll learn something from each tender you participate in these lessons are gold dust. Create a library with answers that you know scored highly (you’ll receive a scorecard after each tender is awarded) and use these in subsequent competitions. This will save you time that you can then use to create differentiation for your business.
Avoid obvious mistakes
Sadly too many SMEs destroy their chances of success by submitting their proposals late, not answering the questions and being unaware of all the requirements (e.g. needing a commissioner of oaths).
Government buyers have to answer yes or no when they score a proposal, and an error such as these immediately attracts a no response.
Approaching a business-to-government strategy with a long-term view goes a long way to increasing the chances for success for all SMEs.
After a morning listening to the speakers at TenderCon2, SMEs came away with practical tips on the best way to approach tendering with Government, as well as wise advice on how to avoid costly errors in the process.