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How to win public sector contracts – get the facts How to win public sector contracts – get the facts
How to win public sector contracts – get the facts

Did you know that public sector contracts are worth over £250 billion per year? That’s an awful lot of money to ignore. However the process of getting can be long and complicated and that’s what puts off most small businesses from entering this resource sapping process. But it needn’t be if you make sure that you have everything in place before you make you bid. That means ensuring your business is ‘supply ready’.


For those do who stay the course, public sector contracts offer some very lucrative and steady long term business. Everything all businesses want. They give stability and the possibility of 3-4 year the money being already budgeted for.


If you want a chance of winning these contracts you need to ensure your business is firstly ‘fit to supply’. That means your business must develop the capacity to supply through buyers rigorous procurement processes.


Ebonyonline.net talks to  Patricia Nweke, partner at Invicta Commerce a company that amongst other things helps SMES to put in the infrastructures to ensure ongoing success and preparedness to win those profitable and long term contracts.


EOL: Commissioning, procurement, tendering, contracting & outsourcing -do they essentially all mean the same thing?

PN: No, they don’t mean the same thing:-


The term is quite a complex one and one that has become prevalent over the years. In public sector terms, the term Commissioning is the process of deciding what goods and services are required by which groups of service users and ascertaining how they are to be provided whether by grant funding, procurement or other means.


Procurement can be described as the process of obtaining a good or service, whether it is obtaining through the exchange of cash. For instance, bartering for a good or service is a means of procuring it.


 Contracting and outsourcing are quite similar in that they refer to deciding to get an outside provider to provide for a need be it goods or services.


Outsourcing is a means of contracting out the delivery of a good of service to a third party.


EOL: What types of services can we expect the public sector to require and where are contracts advertised? Or is it a case of having inside networks and contacts with key people?

PN: The type and range of goods and services that the public sector require is as broad and diverse as the public sector itself;


For instance, within the council, you may need catering services to interpreting services or legal services as well as mechanical engineering and plumbing services and construction services.


In the NHS, you will need medical equipment, sheets for beds, and catering / food supplies for patients and visitors amongst other things.


For other parts of the public sector such as government departments, professional services such as I.T provision would be of more prevalent importance.


EOL: How do you know if you are really ready to supply the public sector – is there a health check/test?

PN: There isn’t a formal health check that I know of however, there are basic things that should be in place such as strong leadership, sound financial provision, efficient and effective processes within the core business and its supply chain. We at Invicta Commerce provide such a sound check for businesses and are offering a free 1:1 to Ebony on Line businesses.


EOL: As a small businesses how can we assess whether a procurement opportunity is right for us?

PN: There are a number of basic checks that can be undertaken such as financial ratio analysis to look at the percentage of the business’s income that is represented by the contract won or that the company is applying for. A new contract should not  be more than 25% of an organisation’s income otherwise it would leave the organisation exposed where anything to go wrong with the contract.


In addition, the contract should be reviewed extensively to identify and mitigate any undue bias towards one party.


EOL: What can micro businesses or start-ups be doing NOW to ensure they are ready to compete for these contracts in the future?

PN: I would recommend that micro business should always ensure that their business is scalable, to put in the relevant structures even while they are small. For instance, they need to understand the core business / products and services that give them their unique selling point. They also need to get their processes down pat. Looking at their people and governance structures is also very key.


EOL: Lastly can you give business 3 top tips to maximise their chances of success of winning a tender?

PN: The top tips I would give for organisations to maximize their chances of winning a tender are to really understand the requirements before submitting a tender. Contracting authorities know when an organisation is not a good fit for them and they can see through any bluff.


I would also recommend that organisations should provide solid evidence against any requirements and aim to obtain relevant accreditations in their industry such as ISO marks, Investors in people etc.


They should also ensure that they are as profitable as possible. You can have the best product or service in the world but if that is not reflected back in the profitability of the business then something is wrong. Profitability is a clear demonstration to the contracting authority that the organisation is at the top of their game and gives them confidence in your ability to fulfill your supplier obligations.


About InvictaCommerce

InvictaCommerce is run by Principal Consultant, Patricia Ihu Nweke, who has over 14 years of portfolio procurement experience working across the NHS, Local and Central Government and Financial Services where she has held specialist and senior management roles. InvictaCommerce help SMES to put in the infrastructures to establish efficient management, supply chains and buying processes and ensure on going success and preparedness to win contracts.  For a free and exclusive 1:1 business effectiveness review for Ebonyonline.net businesses, book here: https://functionalbusinesseffectiveness.as.me/  Alternatively contact: info@invictacommerce.com, Tel: 077 37638514 or https://www.linkedin.com/in/patricia-nweke/

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