The government wants to buy from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) every time they are the best value for money. The Government has changed the way they buy goods and services to help more SMEs to bid for our contracts.
The government has made changes to help SMEs bid for public sector contracts. These include:
- requiring the entire public sector supply chain to be paid within 30 days
- buying in a simpler and quicker way eg abolishing pre-qualification questionnaires for low value public sector contracts
- requiring the public sector to publish its contracts on Contracts Finder
Tips for SMEs bidding for government contracts
Build below the threshold
The quickest way to build up a government customer base is to start with low value procurements. To start with, aim for opportunities under £100,000 where government has abolished Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs). Building up your base this way is a great foundation for competing for bigger sales in the future.
Be part of the conversation
If the first time you spot the opportunity, it’s already formally gone to the market, you are behind the game. Pre-market engagement is your opportunity to shape the formal tender:
- sign up for email alerts on Contracts Finder
- monitor PINs and register your interest in future procurements
- attend information days and public sector ‘product surgeries’
- register with the eSourcing tool for future opportunities
Play to your strengths
Recent studies of public sector procurers show that they see SMEs as flexible, quicker to react and able to offer better prices. Use the pre-market engagement to show this by reacting quickly to questions, offering options and evidence of where you’ve responded to change in the past. Recognise that you are likely to be cheaper than bigger players and show evidence that you offer value for money.
Look good in the exam
Understand that no matter how good you are you will not win unless you make your strengths clear on paper too. Think of it as an exam – answer the question, don’t elaborate and think about getting advice if it’s your first time. The public sector is making the process simpler but remember that it will rightly be held accountable for the procurement decisions it makes, in a way the private sector is not. Take the exam seriously.
Cite evidence in your bid. If you say your system will show or do something, prove it: include a screen shot of how it works or other tangible evidence.
Mystery Shopper service
The Mystery Shopper service allows government suppliers and potential government suppliers to raise concerns anonymously about unfair public sector procurement practice. The government can then investigate and resolve these concerns. It also conducts spot checks on government buyers.
By February 2015, the Mystery Shopper service had investigated 818 cases: 4 out of 5 of these resulted in a positive outcome where changes are made to existing procurements or recommendations are accepted for future contracts. These outcomes included government changing current or planned procurements, or the supplier gaining a better understanding of the procurement process. Mystery Shopper also made 511 spot checks of procurement opportunities advertised on Contracts Finder.
Small and Medium Enterprises
In a world where people are only too ready to moan when things go wrong, I think we should also offer praise when things go right.
The Contracts Finder Working Group would like to offer our thanks and congratulations to Andrew Bowen and the Contracts Finder team at CCSread more
The UK Government is committed to achieving a target that one pound in every three of public money spent annually on goods and services will be spent with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) by the end of the parliament. One of the areas under consideration for improvement is Government Framework Agreements as they relate to SMEsread more
The Contracts Finder platform now has more than 22,000 registered suppliers, with almost two-thirds of them small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – a 53% increase since the beginning of this year. Around 200 suppliers sign up to use the platform every week.read more
The Frameworks Working Group will conduct a survey early in the New Year amongst SMEs.read more
I represent Innopsis and the Telecoms industry on the Cabinet Office SME Panel. The work of the panel is split into working groups and I chair the Contracts Finder Working Group. In this article I want to share with you some of the huge progress we are making.read more
The amount government spends directly with SMEs has continued to climb. This now stands at £5.6 billion, representing a significant increase since 2011 to 12 when £4.4 billion was spent.read more
We are now delighted to be able to publish the first statistics and on every item measured we can see considerable growth in usage in the first 4 months of this financial year (April to July 2017).read more
SME share of Government spending rose to 26.1% by 2015, or £12.1bn, and is targeted at 33% by 2020, creating substantial new opportunities for smaller telecoms and IT providers at the expense of companies such as BT, Vodafone and systems integrators.read more
Funding for the next round of developments of the Contracts Finder website was approved in May 2017.
We now have management information that shows a steady rise in usage by both buyers and suppliers over the last year.read more
Selling to Governmnet – A guide for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has been produced bu Emma Jones, the Small Business Crown Representative.read more