What small businesses need to know about public sector procurements

The tendering and public procurement sector is now shifting in favor of small businesses. Before the development of the regulations concerning public procurement, larger businesses had a cost advantage and they were prioritized for public procurement and tendering. A larger business is often operationally efficient, ready, and can deliver its promises. Therefore, they tend to come up on top compared to small businesses, especially with public sector procurement. 

The good news is that this is now changing because the public sector has realized that small businesses can also be operationally capable of delivering works, services, and products and that they can enhance social value in innovative and new ways. The transforming public procurement paper that was published in 2020 increased the leverage and capability of small businesses in bidding for public sector contracts. Small businesses are now given greater opportunities to bid and win public sector business. This article discusses what small businesses need to know about sector procurements.

Public sector procurements

One of the most crucial public procurement laws is the Public Services Act 2012 that places extra emphasis on central government departments to include the social, economic, and environmental value when it comes to public services contracts. Ideally, larger businesses can still meet these criteria, though the government wants to extend these opportunities to small businesses. 

You should note that the government made a commitment to support the recovery of small businesses after the coronavirus pandemic through the support of local communities. Also, the government is ready to tackle climate change and meet the targets of waste reduction. It also wants to offer equal and fair chances to small businesses that can show their social value. Lastly, the government intends to combat economic inequality and level the public sector contracting playing field in favor of small businesses. 

The government is expected to spend at least £15 billion of public sector money between 2021 and 2022 on small businesses. Most contracts may be accessible, and these include building works, digital services, manufacturing, marketing, architectural, and many more. The good thing is that the government removed the pre-qualification questionnaires that used to apply to low-value contracts. 

You should remember that with more accessibility, there is also greater competition. Therefore, small businesses still need to put a lot of effort to make sure that they can meet social value criteria. Besides, a small business also needs to stand out from the rest of other businesses so that it can procure business from the public sector. 

Finding public sector opportunities

You should note that the public procurement process requires a business to prospect potential government contracts. The best way is to use Tracker Intelligence so that you can receive alerts on the available government contracts.

The government also offers its Contracts Finder tool that you can use to find public sector contracts across the wider public sector. Also, local authorities regularly advertise short-term and smaller opportunities. 

You can also find some opportunities that are advertised through the website of a council while others via trade journals and local news publications. Above all, there is the Tenders Electronic Daily that supplements the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Remember that the OJEU usually has high-value opportunities.

You can source smaller contracts by getting in touch with the local authority directly. They can also give you the details of the contracts that are approaching renewal dates. Local authorities know that the government is focused on smaller business public sector procurement, so they are willing to engage with your business. A traditional approach can also work well, meaning you just need to pick up your phone or contact a local business network to see the available contracts.  

It’s worth mentioning that a small business needs to be ready to market its social value benefits. This is crucial to following the Social Value Act. Most small businesses may already offer social value, such as offering work to local communities or even dealing with local suppliers. And, developing a social value goal can help your business to demonstrate that you are capable of delivering it. 

Take note that a social value strategy can include offering work experience to the youth or disadvantageous people. It can also involve using sustainable approaches and responsibilities when it comes to the waste management, environment, and many more. You can also decide to upskill and train your staff members and have programs that involve schools or any other educational institutions. Simply put, a business needs to consider how it can define its social value goals and measure its delivery and success.

Regardless of the contracts available on the market, you don’t have to bid for each one of them. Instead, you should streamline your efforts towards the government contracts that are feasible for your business. Your business must fulfill each requirement and question of the contract. You should remember that the process tends to revolve on the best way you can serve the buyer with the value and service they need. 

Also, you should market your business properly. Your business needs to have good evidence of successful projects and work. Marketing your business with social proof like testimonials and reviews can be beneficial. Any professional accreditations or awards can also help. The advantage of utilizing your business instead of another potential larger business is obvious. Environmental responsibility or social value can be one of them just like traditional benefit angles like saving money and time. 

Public sector procurement cannot be considered to be a race, so rushing things can cost professionalism. You should make sure that you meet the delivery times. Also, ensure that you have supporting documents in place so that you can submit them when they are needed and meet proposal deadlines. Unfortunately, many small businesses fail to win government contracts just because they don’t follow simple guidelines.

And, if you fail to win the contract, it can be disappointing, especially when you were sure that the contract was suitable for your business. In such cases, you just need to wait for another opportunity, and make sure that you work out on the areas that went wrong.