How to Exploit the Tender Trap
Expert help can boost success rates for winning new contracts writes Sandra O’Connell
Anne Williams joined Bridgestock, a Roscommon Facilities management company, to win more public-sector tenders. A year and a half later, she accomplished the mission.
Williams came from the oil industry and knew nothing about the process. “I didn’t bring any baggage to the subject,” she said. “I took a step back, did a complete review, brought in outside expertise and started from scratch”.
Since then, the company has been cleaning up, with security and cleaning contracts from the Sligo, Blanchardstown and Letterkenny Institutes of Technology. “We are now very strategic about tendering,” said Williams, the company’s business development executive. “We focus on our strengths and key areas, both geographically and in terms of skills and resources.”
The “win rate” has gone up dramatically. “Whenever we win a public contract, we start knocking on doors and cold calling in the area, going after private sector contracts on the back of it”
Wayne Dignam, who helped Bridgestock is not surprised by the success. The founder of Tender Team, a consultancy, said: “With the recession, a lot more SMEs are looking to get a share of the public’s sector €12bn procurement budget”
A crucial part of the process takes place even before a tender is advertised. “If you have never bid for public contracts before, find out which bodies are likely to buy your products and services,” he said. “Establish your key targets, do as much research on them as you can and then go introduce yourself. Once a tender is advertised, you can’t do that.” The government’s eTenders website provides information on past and present tenders of more than €25,000 in value.
Supplies below that value are found more informally. “A good way forward is to start with lower-value contracts and build up that way,” said Dignam. Having one public sector body on your books helps win others, while success in Ireland “opens doors to exports,” he said.
Extract from The Sunday Times
20th October 2013
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