How to Apply for Public Tenders
Ready to bid on public sector tender opportunities but unsure about how to apply for public tenders? This guide covers everything you need to know about applying for tenders in the public sector.
The Public Tendering Process
Learning how to apply for a tender in the public sector starts with knowing where and how your business fits into the public sector tendering process.
The public sector tendering process is highly structured and, as a result, understanding the steps involved is important for those seeking to win public sector procurement opportunities with public bodies such as governments or local authorities.
Nearly any business — from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to multinational organisations and institutions — can apply for public sector contracts. But there are many steps that need to be followed before you can finally submit a tender bid.
Successful public tender applications comply with a series of steps including:
Identify a relevant public sector tender opportunity
Make sure you can fulfil the requirements of the tender
Express interest to the buyer following the tender process outlined in the contract notice
Complete the Selection Questionnaire
An invitation to tender (ITT) is issued
Submit a full tender response
If you’re ready to access and win more high-value public sector contracting opportunities that are relevant to your business, then this guide from Tracker is for you.
Once you know how to apply successfully for government tenders, you can get started on finding contract notices that are relevant to your business and writing winning tender responses.
Sign up to Tracker to receive tender alerts for the latest published business opportunities in public procurement!
1. Identify relevant opportunities for public sector contracts
The first step is to identify relevant tender opportunities.
The public sector is incredibly various. Buyers range from small local authorities to NHS bodies and central government departments and they offer equally diverse opportunities with values ranging from a few hundred pounds to many billions. Public sector tenders are therefore suitable for all types of business from sole traders to multinationals.
Suppliers from almost all industries, such as IT, construction, emergency services, and healthcare (including NHS tenders) can tender for work in the public sector. These sectors also create further supply chains within the public procurement space.
As you can see, there are countless contract opportunities available for your business. Whether you’re interested in construction, cyber security, or healthcare tenders, you can find contracts tailored to your specifications through our Tender Alerts and Opportunity Search tools. Simply filter your search according to factors such as contract value, region, and more.
We have also create a guide for how to find public tenders.
2. Make sure you can fulfil the requirements of the tender
Once you’ve identified a relevant tender opportunity, the next step is to read the specification thoroughly and make sure you understand all the criteria to ensure your organisation can fulfil each requirement of the tender.
Without completing this crucial step in the bid process, you dramatically reduce your chances of winning any public sector contract, as your tender bid will not be considered if it does not meet the basic tender application requirements.
BiP Solutions’ Ultimate Guide to Winning Public Tenders does an excellent job of summarising the questions and considerations you should be thinking about at this stage of the tender application process, some of which might include:
• Does my organisation meet or exceed the technical skills and experience required?
• Does the work fit in with the strategy and positioning of my organisation?
• Can my organisation afford the time and resources required for bidding, even if we don’t win?
• Pay attention to the evaluation criteria and weightings that will be used to score responses, which will tell you which elements are most important to the buyer and what they will be assessing.
• Make sure your bid proposal is for what the buyer wants, not what you want to deliver or have provided previously.
Ready to win tenders in the public sector? We outline the next steps for applying for a tender from a public sector organisation below.
Tracker makes the search for public contracts — for buyers and suppliers — easier with our Tender Alerts tool. Sign up for a free 3-day trial to try it out for yourself.
3. Express interest to the buyer
Once you have found a contract opportunity and are confident that your organisation can fulfil the terms of the contract outlined in the tender documents, the next step is to show the buyer that you’re interested.
This stage in the bid processis straightforward and simply involves contacting the buying authority and requesting the full documentation or downloading it yourself if it is available electronically. This will clarify how to bid for government tenders you are interested in.
Tracker enables early engagement with government contacts and public authorities with our Contact Decision Makers and Contact Pipeline & Reminders tender tools. This can also be an important step at this stage of the tender process and can help you to create a winning bid.
How to Apply for Tenders Based on the Procurement Procedure in use?
Once you’ve expressed your interest to the buyer, there are a number of different procurement processes or procedures that can be followed, including Open, Restricted, Competitive Dialogue, Competitive Procedure with Negotiation, and more.
This will affect the procurement rules and tender requirements through the different tender stages, so the answer to ‘how to complete a government tender document’ will also be based on which procurement procedure is used.
If your tender opportunity uses the single-stage Open procedure, you will be asked to submit a full tender at this point. However, for the majority of contract opportunities in public sectors, buyers use the Restricted procedure or equivalent two-stage procedure to whittle down the applicants before the tender stage.
Once you have the documentation, you will move on to the next stage in the tender process.
4. Supplier Selection Questionnaire
The next stage in the tendering process is to prepare and fill in your bid response. You will already be aware of what the requirements for the public sector tender are, having thoroughly read the tender documents and ensured that your organisation can fulfil them.
At this stage, the buyer will send out a Selection Questionnaire (SQ) (previously known as a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)) to obtain further information which can aid the selection process. If the buyer is using the Open procedure, this will be sent out alongside the full tender documents and responses submitted with your full tender bid. For other procedures, read on.
To streamline the process, the Government has released a Standardised Selection Questionnaire (SQ) document for public sector bodies to use.
5. Invitation to Tender
After the SQ has been received, it will be assessed, evaluated, and scored by the buying authority against their weighted scoring criteria. You will know what these criteria are in advance, which will help you fill it out appropriately. Make sure you consider the weightings allocated to each section when preparing your bid response.
If you are successful at this stage, you will join the buyer’s shortlist. You will then be issued an Invitation to Tender (ITT), which is a formal notification from an organisation inviting a supplier to submit a full tender response.
6. Submitting your tender response
You’ve been through the initial steps in the public procurement process — from finding public tenders of interest and identifying your ability to fulfil this work, right through to expressing an interest and possibly filling in a questionnaire. The contracting authorities have weighed up your application and agreed that you have the resources to fulfil their contract requirements, so they invite you to tender. Now comes the final, most important step in the tendering process — submitting your tender response.
Writing and submitting your full tender response is where the public sector contract is won or lost, so make sure your organisation invests the necessary time and resources to ensure that it is as good as it can be and stands out from the competition.
Consider creating a team of bidders comprised of a member of staff from each relevant department to help you create a thorough and comprehensive tender bid. Don’t be shy about selling yourself, and explain the benefits of your offer as clearly and simply as possible when you fill out the necessary documentation.
After it has been received, your tender will be scored by the buying organisation to decide if you are the best fit to provide the goods and services that are required. The tender will be awarded to the business with the strongest bid response.
Want to find out more about how to write a winning bid? Read Tracker’s step-by-step guide on ‘How to Write a Tender Response that Really Wins‘.
Partner with Tracker & Start Winning UK Government Tenders
Now that you know how to apply for government tenders, you can start bidding for public sector contracts with confidence.
Tracker provides industry-leading tender tools that help with tender applications and can improve your chances of finding and winning public tenders.
Our bid tracker tool (Bid Manager) keeps your bids and government tender application documents on one collaborative platform that your whole team can access. Along with this tender tracker tool, our other solutions include Spend Analysis, Market Intelligence, and Market Leads, among others.
With Tracker’s business intelligence tools for procurement, you can learn how to apply for a government tender so you can put your best tender application forward and improve your chances of winning the contract.
We’ve shown you how to apply for public tenders — all that’s left is for you to sign up for a free trial or request a free demo to see Tracker’s intelligence tools in action.
Simplify the tendering process with Tracker’s services and find more government contracts using our UK-wide tender portal today!