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Do you have all your eggs in one basket? A brief guide to public sector bidding

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’, when it comes to being too dependent upon a few clients. Expanding into public sector work and frameworks is one way to expand your work portfolio but many companies are reluctant to bid the work as they are put off by the process, writes Peter Searle, Business Doctor.

The advantages of bidding are that you are more likely to bid against equally qualified businesses, and therefore the bids will be of a similar standard, and as the client is publicly funded there as a reduced risk of default on payments.


The process for bidding a contract or framework is the same. I suggest you bid some contracts first to get the practice. Frameworks tend to be of a longer duration and are not issued so frequently. The process occurs in three stages.

Expression of Interest. (EOI)

You start by registering on the Government portal https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder. Once registered you will be notified, by the issue of a Prior Information Notice (PIN), when contracts are available to bid which meet the criteria you specified. When you see one you would like to bid, you register your interest, by completing the Expression of Interest. Having returned the EOI you will be notified as to when the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire will be available. (PQQ)

Pre-Qualification Questionnaire. (PQQ)

By completing the PQQ you demonstrate to the client that your business is a suitable business to carry out the work. This questionnaire is purely to ‘select’ the most suitable businesses to bid. The ‘selected’ businesses will then be bidding against their peers. This removes the under-qualified businesses. If you meet the PQQ requirements and score above the cut off number of bidders you will then be Invited to Tender, (ITT).

Invitation to Tender (ITT)

The ITT is where you complete the answer to the questions from the ITT which provides marks for the evaluator to determine who to ‘award’ the contract to. The ‘selection; scores have no part in this. Your scoring starts from zero for the award. Questions can be weighted so there can be a bias towards quality, time or cost. So, for instance, price may not have much weighting if quality is more important to the client. The submission of the ITT concludes the bid. There may be some clarifications but the bid must comply to be accepted.

Frameworks

Frameworks are bid using the same process. They are of a longer duration and thus as a reoccurring revenue can improve the value of your business, if you plan to sell one-day. Frameworks are often broken down into ‘lots’ so that the work matches what businesses tend to provide, otherwise there would be no bidders. I suggest you look at some existing frameworks in your sector and see when they will be renewed. 

Advanced planning will mean that you have time to put together the best case-studies and examples which will improve your likelihood of being ‘awarded’ at ITT. By planning to bid a framework that is not to be issued for two or three years, you will give yourself time to prepare the requirements that are often needed to be ‘selected’ at PQQ e.g. two years of audited accounts.

If you would like further support on public sector tendering contact PeterSearle@businessdoctors.co.uk. Alternatively you can see how the number of clients and the amount of reoccurring revenue fits into the valuation of your business by taking this survey.