Guest blog: Doing business with the public sector

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Public Sector Procurement accounts for an average of 17% GDP each year across the EU, over 1000€ billion of public funds each year, a huge amount I’m sure you’ll agree. Tapping into these funds can provide reliable work on long contracts to help your business grow.

However, doing business with the public sector isn’t always easy. Heavily regulated public bodies have a duty to ensure public funds are spent in a fair and transparent manner which can lead to complex procurement processes, especially for larger projects.

There is no doubt that more can be done by the public sector to ease engagement with the procurement process, particularly for smaller businesses. However it is your responsibility to ensure you are selling your business in the best light.

My 5 top tips below are simple but really important to becoming successful in winning public sector work:

1. Understand your buyer
Do your research on the buyer’s website, most Local Authorities and NHS Trusts have guides for suppliers wanting to sell goods/services. Where/when possible get in contact with the person leading on the procurement process. They will have to remain fair and transparent but can offer clarification where needed.

2. Make sure you are aware of opportunities
A great number of websites now offer free services to businesses to notify of tender opportunities. A few of these can be found below:

3. Spend time on your tenders
Exactly as with a job application, presentation and clarity is hugely important. The evaluation of tenders is a ridged process so make sure the information you are offering is detailed under the right question, evaluating officers cannot infer from your answers elsewhere or from previous work or tenders.

4. Don’t waste time
Reading tender documentation is essential. There are certain areas such as Health and Safety where mandatory standards must be met. If your organisation does not meet these standards spend your time becoming accredited rather than filling out Prequalification after Prequalification to no avail. There is no flexibility on this.

5. Work together
Consortium bids to deliver larger contracts are looked upon favourably providing they offer value for money.

Good luck and keep an eye out for supplier development opportunities over the coming months.

This blog was written by David Morgan, procurement officer at Cornwall Council.