SME Guide to Bidding

SME Guide to Bidding

Are you an SME in the public sector looking to make your first bid? This guide to bidding will cover all things from what a bid is to top tips and bid feedback!

So, What is a Bid?

A bid is a tender, proposal, or quotation submitted in response to a request from a Contracting Authority. By law, Government agencies are required to issue bids publicly whenever they are in need of a specific product or service. Tenders come in various forms, including Requests for Information (RFI), Requests for Proposals (RFP), and Requests for Quotations (RFQ).

The bidding process means that a transparent and fair procedure, based on identifying the best value for money, exists within procurement. It is a competitive process in which the companies responding must write responses based on a set of criteria, questions, method statements, and pricing.

Doing Business with Government:

The Government wants to buy from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) every time they are the best value for money. In order to do this, they have changed the way they buy goods and services to make bidding more SME-friendly than it has been.

The Government has made changes to help SMEs bid for public sector contracts, some of these include:

Top Tips for Bidding SMEs:

Bid below the threshold – start with low-value procurements, such as opportunities under £100,000, where there are no PQQs (Pre-Qualification Questionnaires) to fill out beforehand.

Be part of the conversation – tenders will have pre-market engagements; this is your opportunity to shape the formal tender. Sign up for adverts on contracts finder, monitor Prior Information Notices (PINs), and attend information days.

Play to your strengths – SMEs can be flexible and quicker to react, they’re often able to offer better prices too. Use the pre-market engagement to show this by reacting to questions quickly, offering options and evidence of where you’ve responded to change in the past. Recognise that you are likely to be cheaper than the bigger companies but show evidence that you offer good value for money.

Evidence matters – saying you can do something is great, by being able to SHOW that you can do it is even better. Providing evidence in your bid is definitely the way to go. If you say you do something, show it, and include a case study, if possible, this helps to support your written answer and prove that what you’re saying is true.

Top Tips for Finding Relevant Tenders:

  1. Use your preferred contract finder
  2. Filter your searches within the contracts finder to the industry you work in, as well as the type of work you do i.e., construction – roofing, scaffolding, kitchen, office fit-outs, etc…
  3. Search within your region(s)
  4. Sign up for email alerts on your chosen contract finder!

If you’re not sure which contract finder to use, use the Government one:

Should you consider bid training?

Contracts are important, they allow your company to expand and grow, but in order to do this, you need to ensure your bid is submitted at an extremely high quality to have the best chance of winning.

Writing tender responses to win those contracts, however, is quite complicated. The purpose of the documents is to exclude bidders, so it’s important you understand how to read and respond to the questionnaire or tender. If you don’t fully understand them, there is a high possibility your response will be non-compliant, and you will not win the contract.

Bid writing is a skill that is difficult to self-teach without a lot of trial and error. This is why it’s a good idea to invest in some bid writing training. There are lots of courses out there for you to do, some free, some paid, research them and find a few that seem like a good fit for you!

Bid Acronyms and What They Mean:

Be part of the conversation – tenders will have pre-market engagements; this is your opportunity to shape the formal tender. Sign up for adverts on contracts finder, monitor Prior Information Notices (PINs), and attend information days.

Throughout contract notices and tender documents, there are many abbreviations that can be quite confusing to see for first-time/new bidders. Googling these abbreviations could bring up several different meanings, to make this easier for you, we’ve made the below list of the most common ones we come across:

Social Value:

Social value is focused on what your company provides to society, this includes how you support the local economy, buying from other local businesses, and also how your company is trying to achieve NetZero. Examples of social value are:

Back in September 2020, the Government announced new measures to deliver social value throughout public procurement. These new measures were launched to help:

This new approach means there will be more opportunities for SMEs to win Government contracts by demonstrating the full extent of the value they would generate. Value for money will still be a high factor, however, your social value score will now be incorporated into the assessment of contracts.

Bid Feedback:

As upsetting as not winning a tender is, you can learn valuable things from the feedback received from the Contracting Authority. They can help you to recognise your strengths and weakness to be able to improve your written response, and possibly some practical work, ready for your next bid.

The feedback you receive can vary quite a lot, where some will offer honest feedback that highlights certain areas and others may provide you with a few generic bullet points – or sometimes no feedback at all! More importantly, if it’s a public sector bid and they don’t give you feedback, they are in breach of the Public Contract Regulations.

If you don’t receive feedback, you can request further information, this must be given to you within 15 days of a written request being received.

What sort of information should you ask for in a written request for feedback?

As well as the above, it’s also worth finding out the below, if it’s not already been given to you:

Once you’ve received the feedback, if it wasn’t already provided for you, share it with your bid team. Doing this enables them to identify any shortcomings and put together a plan for future bids. Not only this, but they can also see which parts of the bid did well, and by keeping a record of the feedback you receive from unsuccessful bids, you can reuse high-scoring parts in other bids, providing they’re relevant to the contract you’re bidding on.

What does good feedback on your response look like?

Remember – losing a bid isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It allows you and your team to grow as writers and gain valuable information for the next one.

Keep up to date with Bid for Success:

Bid for Success is dedicated to providing valuable insights, strategies, and resources to empower individuals and businesses in their pursuit of success.

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Alternatively, if you have an upcoming bid or a project, we’re here to help you. Our team of experts is just a message away, ready to provide the support and guidance you need.

Remember, success is not a destination; it’s a continuous journey.

For enquiries and assistance with upcoming bids, please reach out to us!

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