"All it took was a gentle (perhaps not so gentle) and persistent nudge from Mark to sharpen up how we approached tendering for public sector business. We learnt from each tender, developed the expertise we needed and won some good business."
A slightly embarassed but very grateful client
Winning public sector business
There is a lot of meaningless bluff, bluster and hype about public sector procurement rules. Public sector procurement rules are not anywhere near as complicated or bureaucratic as those with vested interests (consultants and trainers) would have you believe. Buyers do try their level best to reinforce negative popular perceptions by regularly stuffing their tender documents full of irrelevant and meaningless content.
The popular perception of complex bureaucratic rules isn't helped by unsuccessful bidders, who often complain about buyers favouring lowest price and largest company. Some have been known to proclaim loudly that the buyer has chosen the wrong supplier, the rules are overly complex and bureaucratic, and they could do a lot better.
Unfortunately they've missed the point! They have a limited understanding of the buyer's role. Buyers can only evaluate written tenders. They have to exclude all other influences from their evaluation. For example if you don't mention something in your tender but expect a buyer to be aware of it because of, say, your reputation then you haven't maximised the potential of your tender.
An unsuccessful bidder might be correct, they perhaps would prove a better supplier than the successful bidder. However, their lack of success suggests that their written tender did not convince the buyer. A lot of good organisations are simply unable to communicate effectively the value of their offer in writing.
How we started
Some (many) years ago we were approached by a sales director who was keen for us to help him write a tender for services to a public sector organisation. At the time much of our work was on purchasing matters with a fair bit being support for public sector procurement. The inference was that we had to have been successful at bidding for business from organisations in the public sector.
He reckoned that our not inconsiderable experience of formulating public sector tender documents, evaluating tenders and bidding for business would be valuable to help him write a good tender, in a gamekeeper turned poacher sort of way.
They were successful and his company became party to a framework agreement and did very nicely from it. They also used their new found expertise, supplemented by ours, to start with, to win more business from organisations in the public sector. Whilst helping we transferred expertise that enabled us to gradually reduce our input until we weren't needed at all, except for the odd, more complex, issues and to occasionally review progress.