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Top 10 procurement tips for winning contracts

Monday November 18th, 2013

Jill Fryer advises both public sector clients on running their procurement processes and private sector clients involved in or considering involvement in those procurement processes. Jill also advises on all issues related to a public procurement process, including the subsequent contract entered into, freedom of information and data protection, competition law and other compliance and regulatory issues.

Jill Fryer

Jill Fryer

Taking part in a procurement process can be daunting and time-consuming, both for businesses which are new to the experience and for seasoned bidders for public sector work as each tender process is different and requires a tailored bid. As well as unfamiliar and sometimes confusing terminology, bidders have to pay considerable attention to detail and may be required to submit a plethora of supporting documentation. Jill’s experience in assisting bidders engaged in competitive procurement exercises means she is well placed to offer some helpful advice to businesses which would like to bid for public sector work.

Here are Jill’s top tips on how to make the exercise less stressful and hopefully more successful:

1.  Make sure you will be aware of all potential opportunities – register on all useful websites, go to all relevant events such as “Meet the Buyer” days and make direct contact with the public sector bodies you would like to work with, where appropriate.

2.  Don’t fall down on a technicality – answer all the questions, check whether you can submit alternative or “variant” bids, submit your bid on time and to the address specified, in the format requested and with the number of copies requested.  Provide the public body with the information which they have requested, not what you think they should know about your business.

3.  Identify and mark all the information which you consider to be commercially sensitive and would not want to be disclosed. Remember, however, that the public sector is bound by Freedom of Information legislation and may be required to disclose information even if you consider that it is confidential.

4.  Make sure you genuinely understand the requirement and, if you are not clear, ask before you bid. Bear in mind, however, that the questions you ask and the responses you receive will almost certainly be circulated to all bidders in the process.

5.  Make sure you understand and can accept the terms and conditions which will apply to the final contract and consider whether you will have any conflict with your existing clients and if so, how this will be managed. Remember that your bid is likely to be legally binding on you.

6.  If you can’t meet the requirement yourself, are there opportunities for sub-contracting or consortium bidding? For example, you could check all contract award notices to find out about contracts which have been awarded to other businesses – this can identify potential opportunities for your business.

7.  If another supplier has the contract at the moment, consider whether their staff will transfer to you under TUPE regulations and if so, whether this will affect the price at which you bid.

8.  Always ask for feedback, whether you are successful or unsuccessful.

9.  Don’t underestimate the resources required to compete in a procurement exercise. Consider carefully who within your business will have responsibility for and input into the tender and balance this against their other responsibilities and commitments.

10. Be prepared! You will almost certainly be asked for various information including financial information and policies on equal opportunities and health & safety. Having these prepared in advance can make the tender preparation process easier to manage.


Jill is an Associate with Harper Macleod LLP and can be contacted at

Twitter: @HarperMacleod





Gov Opps’ training partner, PASS (Procurement Advice Support Service) runs relevant training courses for private sector organisations interested in bidding for work with the public sector. These include Introduction to Public Procurement, Pre-Qualifying for Tenders, Preparing Perfect Tenders and EU Directive – a Supplier’s Perspective. To get more info on the courses, click HERE.

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