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7 ways to secure government contracts

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Despite the business potential for SMEs, many are hesitant to bid for public procurement contracts and often back away from applying because of the time and resources required to deal with what can be a lengthy and complex ordeal.

However, with the current backing of government, now is the ideal time for SMEs to take advantage and start the necessary planning and preparation to secure these sought after contracts. It’s important to remember that company size needn’t be a barrier.

Instead, SMEs should focus on careful planning and preparation. By keeping on top of all documentation, SMEs will stand a greater chance of success when they finally comes to tender for government contracts.

Here are some top tips on how to win government contracts:

1. Be prepared

Ensure your business is prepared to tender by gathering all necessary documentation. Be ready to demonstrate your standards and policies on issues such as HR, company finance, and environmental standards. It is often best to assign someone as an ‘owner’ of these documents so they can keep them updated and well prepared for when a tender comes in.

2. Start small

Start small and once successful, move on to larger opportunities. It is important to take advantage of the contracts that you are most likely to be successful in straight away.

3. Understand your market place

Research and establish if it’s worth bidding for government projects directly or if agreements with suppliers are already in place.

4. Demonstrate your strengths

Demonstrate your flexibility by being quick to respond to questions, and offer evidence of where you have responded to change in the past and where you offered value for money.

5. Meet the scope

Ensure that your answers match the scope of the brief and give examples through evidence of your work and proof points wherever possible.

6. Seek advice

Make use of The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills free guide called, ‘Tendering for Public Contracts’. Further, you could seek additional consultancy from outside your business, or confer with your trade body.

7. Ask for feedback

If you are unsuccessful in your bid, ask for feedback. This will allow you to see why you were unsuccessful and how you can improve in your next bid.

In 2012, 20 per cent of total government spend went to SME business, yet only 10.5 per cent went directly into the pockets of these companies. The remainder went through larger companies subcontracting work to them. The continued growth of the UK economy relies largely on the success of small and medium sized businesses. As private spending continues to decrease, public sector contracts offer a more dependable source of income for SMEs. Therefore, SMEs should carefully prepare now in order to take advantage of the opportunities that these contracts offer.

Jon Milton is business development director at Comensura, a supply management specialist who manages the supply of temporary, permanent and consultant labour in the public, private and not for profit sectors.

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