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How to tender for government contracts – Part 1: getting tender ready

Steve O’Hare, Owner and Director at SCLO Consulting

Due to the profound impact that Covid-19 is having on the education sector, as well as individuals, employers, communities, industries and the economy, there’s never been a better time to focus on bidding and tendering.

As more contracts in the sector are going to tender, it’s important to be able to spot a good business opportunity and maximise your chances of winning tenders.

Government contracts

Tendering for government contracts can be a lengthy and detailed process and so it’s important to take the time to think before bidding for work that could be a waste of time, if it’s not the right contract for your business.

The same criteria could be applied for any contract in reality, but the nature of government tenders in particular, means it’s important to ask yourself a number of questions before going ahead.

If you fail to do this and just plough straight in, the costs may not just be high in the short term, they could damage your business for a number of years afterwards, if you’re then unable to fulfil the contract as promised, or if you’re not set up to deliver on the terms agreed.

Below are the three main areas to focus on before deciding whether a contract is right for your business.

1. Make sure the contract is for you

Can you really deliver the contract they are asking for? The worst thing that a buyer can see is someone who has tried to get a square peg in a round hole. If they had wanted to buy a square peg, they would have got a square hole too.

If you are trying to make something fit that ultimately is not what they’re after, you will spend a lot of time, energy and money for no return.

Make sure you can deliver the contract and have the resources to do so, effectively.

2. Consider why you or your business should win this contract

Why you? How will you add value to what is on offer? What do you bring to the table? What makes you different? What separates you from the competition?

Work out your unique selling point and make it clear!

If we look at the education market, for example, and you are considering looking at tendering for apprenticeships, you could be battling with up to 2,000 competitors, so you have got to consider what makes you stand out.

3. If you win the tender, can you deliver?

The worst thing you can do is win a tender and then not deliver on it.

If this happens, it can seriously damage your credibility and long-term strategy. If you win something based on false promises, you will encounter substantial problems further down the line.

Ultimately, you want to win a contract and then win it again and again, and so on. You don’t want to win, lose it and then come back five years later to try again; you will find that people have long memories.

So, ask yourself, do you have the right things in place and do you really understand what is needed to deliver it? Have you got the ability to deliver your solution?

For more guidance, watch our recent webinar – Getting Tender Ready.

In my next two blogs, I’ll focus on tendering 101 and improving tender success.

Our Youth Employability initiative

These blogs are part of NCFE’s new go the distance programme, helping you to remain innovative in a changing market, so you can continue to kickstart careers for learners post-Covid-19.

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