Winning that first public sector contract can be a huge milestone for a small business. But where do you find tenders to bid for? As we have talked to small businesses around the country, we have come to understand that there’s a lot of mystery surrounding bidding and in particular where you can find out about what opportunities are available. In this blog, we’re going to look at some of the options available to you to find public sector and other government tenders.
The Local Picture
If you are a regional SME then the chances are you know which organisations are around you that you might want to do business with. It could be that you are aware of contracts with your local authority, or one of the government-funded organisations in your area such as a school or housing association. A simple way to find out where they list their opportunities is to visit the organisation’s website and search for ‘procurement’. This will usually lead you to the name of the portal that they share their opportunities to. Some examples of local tendering portals are:
London Tenders – for some London Boroughs
SE Shared Services – a portal that covers many parts of South East England
The Chest – The North West Local Authority portal
Yortender – for the Yorkshire & Humber region.
Some larger procurers have their own portals that cover all opportunities available with them. Portals like this include:
The National Picture
If your business isn’t restricted by geography then it can get time-consuming to check multiple local portals to find tenders. The good news is that there is an alternative, the UK Governments national tender portals which lists all opportunities available nationwide. These are split by the value of the contract, with low-value contracts (over £10,000 but under £118,000) and high-value contracts (over £118,000) which were formerly listed through the Office of the Journal of the European Union (OJEU) .
Contracts Finder – Low-value contracts
Find a Tender – High-value contracts
There are also separate portals for supplying to other countries within the UK:
To use these portals, you will need to set up an account with them which includes providing contact details and information about your business and what you do. This then enables these portals to send you email alerts to let you know when suitable opportunities are available for you.
It’s important to remember that all these systems are used by humans, and so they aren’t perfect. Most searches rely on the use of CPV codes, which categorise the product or service that the organisation is trying to procure. If the person entering the data uses the wrong CPV code, then you will not get an alert that the tender is available.
There are also companies who have created their own portals and tender alert services. They combine data feeds from numerous sources and give you a search function to look through these opportunities using CPV codes, or keyword searches to narrow the field. These will also offer you the ability to set up saved searches and to have alerts emailed to you. The downside of these automated searches is just that, they are automated and so cannot identify any opportunities which have been miscategorized or understand the specific nuances of your business. You may still be left scrolling through a haystack of opportunities looking to find your particular needle.
Bid for Success is currently developing a ‘Growth Assist’ Program to enable small businesses to find tenders which are suitable for their business. We have invested in tender search technology that allows us to build up a profile that is unique for each of our customers, curated by one of our bid and tender specialists to ensure that we capture the perfect opportunities for your business. The package will also include a monthly time allowance with our bid specialists which you can use however you wish: you could ask us to help you make bid/no-bid decisions, to compliance check your submissions, or to help you with your responses – or any other persuasive writing you need for your sales and marketing activity.
If you’d like to learn more about Growth Assist, or any other way we can help you find tenders and win opportunities to meet your growth goals, book a meeting with our New Business Team today.