The opportunities for SMEs to win business through a formal contracting process continues to grow with both public and private sector organisations choosing to procure goods and services in this way. Known as tendering, these forms of contracts often apply to bigger jobs or for the supply of contracts spread over time.
All small businesses should make an informed decision as to whether tendering for work is for them and not just dismiss such opportunities out of hand. Many larger organisations rely on smaller suppliers to meet their needs; over half of all public sector contracts are with SMEs.
Contracts are often of relatively low value when you consider them over the term of the contract. Contracts can be divided up into smaller lots of lower value also there are often opportunities to get on preferred supplier lists and framework agreements. To view this information for St Helens Council, please click here.
If you do decide that winning business through undertaking tendering and Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) opportunities may be right for your business you need to prepare and establish a bid management process. This does not have to be overly formalised but rather the establishment of a logical approach to tendering.
Where can I find contract opportunities?
A good starting point is to register with the numerous Business Opportunity Portals that exist. All public sector portals are free to register; some private sector specialist portals may have a joining fee. Registering with a trading portal will allow you to receive instant email alerts regarding opportunities that are relevant to your business.
All St Helens Council contract opportunities are placed on a trading portal called The Chest along with those of 45 other local authorities in the North West.
The Chest – Visiting the Website for the First Time
The Chest User Guide
The Chest User Guide – Managing Your Account
The Chest User Guide – Tender Response
St Helens Chamber also lists a selection of public, private and overseas business opportunities, please click here to view.
How do I know if an opportunity is suitable?
Read it carefully and check key points: What’s the overall value over what term a total value of the contract (a £120,000 contract over three years equates to £40,000 per year), where is the contract to be delivered (it might be issued in London but deliverable in Merseyside, is it broken down into Lots and whether the nature of a particular Lot is suitable for you.
Where can I find out more information?
Our top 10 tips and FAQ page will give you more information on the sorts of things you need to consider when tendering. The St Helens Local Growth Hub can provide you with contact details of specialist commercial bid management consultants who are happy to have initial free consultations.
St Helens Council along with other public sector organisations disclose information on both who holds all current contracts and their value, when contracts are due for renewal and their particular rules for procurement (called Standing Orders).
If you need help with winning new business, please call the St Helens Local Growth Hub team 01744 742444.
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