Early engagement strategy: Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4)

An overview of the National Planning Framework (NPF4)

Preparations have officially begun for the launch of Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4). This planning framework will replace the current framework, NP3, published in 2014. The NPF4 will set a foundation for a long-term infrastructure development plan that is needed to support sustainable and inclusive growth in Scotland up to 2050.

This Planning Framework is significantly different to previous Planning Frameworks in Scotland. For the first time, spatial and thematic planning policies will be addressed in one place. It will look like a development plan with a longer time to horizon to 2050. It will streamline regional coverage and improve alignment with wider programmes and strategies, including infrastructure and economic investment.

As part of the planning framework process, Planning for Scotland within the Scottish Government has called for extensive early engagement with a wide range of stakeholders in the public and private sector, as well as organisations involved in communities, voluntary work, charities, academics and professional bodies to share their thoughts and priorities for the coming decades.

The nature of this project is shaping what Scotland will look like in 2050; it is not putting in place an early engagement strategy for tenders in the immediate future. Therefore, NPF4 is not a conventional early engagement project between buyers and suppliers in the usual sense, that is – before a tender is published. NPF4 spans decades to come, impacting all sectors and all industries, and the role procurement and business can play building the future for Scotland. This means calls for extensive widespread feedback from organisations of all sizes, across all sectors and specialisms is necessary.

How organisations can get involved in NPF4

Organisations that wish to take part in the early engagement stage of NPF4 will be asked to answer five questions, which Planning for Scotland have named as key themes for their ‘Call for Ideas.’

These questions are based around what Scotland should be like in 2050, and the changes that can be implemented to get there.

  • What development will we need to address climate change?
  • How can planning best support our quality of life, health and wellbeing in the future?
  • What does planning need to do to enable development and investment in our economy to benefit everyone?
  • How can planning improve, protect and strengthen the special character of our places?
  • What infrastructure do we need to plan and build to realise our long term aspirations?

Timetable for NPF4

Planning for Scotland will carry out intensive early engagement on the scope and content of NPF4 from January to March 2020. If your organisation wishes to get involved and answer the questions above, now is the time to submit your responses. It is worth mentioning that responses gathered in the next three months can influence the shape of Scotland over the next thirty years, in a way other planning frameworks perhaps cannot.

Over the summer 2020 a time of reflection on the suggestions will take place, followed by the first draft preparation of NPF4, planned to be submitted in September 2020. The final version of NPF4 is aimed to be published in the Scottish parliament in 2021. Alongside the early engagement process, Planning for Scotland will also be implementing policy assessments which are required by law, as well as incorporating procurement good practices.

This constructive and reflective early engagement with all stakeholders will help procurement in Scotland achieve a substantial transformation.

The development of the planning framework has also generated engagement events that will hugely benefit organisations of all types. The NPF4 Scotplan 2050 Roadshow is a series of events that will be hosted across Scotland to give all stakeholders the opportunity to consider key questions in the 2050 plan. At engagement events such as these, suppliers can open discussions with buyers and other stakeholders to build their opportunities in the near future.

This is hugely exciting news that will only add to the value and necessity of early engagement within the procurement process.

The wider context of early engagement

Early engagement between buyers and suppliers has been a hugely successful strategy in public sector procurement in recent years. Studies have shown early engagement to significantly help suppliers to go on to win tenders as well as streamlining the entire procurement process from start to end. The launch of NPF4 serves to highlight the value of early engagement on a much wider scale. The tools used in conventional early engagement will be invaluable to those engaging with the Scottish Government in its consultations for NPF4. Engagement and discussion with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders will help to shape the vision for Scotland in 2050 that will be set out in NPF4. NPF4 will, in turn, give rise to billions of pounds of opportunities over the next three decades, to each of which early engagement principles can also be applied.

NPF4 will dictate how planning and development are structured throughout the whole of Scotland for the next 30 years. By participating in the current ‘Call for Ideas’ you can influence the way Scotland – or your area of Scotland – develops over the next 30 years in ways that could potentially benefit your business. In addition, attending the workshops and roadshows that are part of the ‘Call for Ideas’ could enable you to meet and engage with other interested parties, including potential buyers of your products and services under future NPF4-related projects, or even with more immediate needs.

Once NPF4 is finalised, it is inevitable that it will lead to a considerable number and range of procurement opportunities. Early engagement can help you to build networks, understand the details of what the buyer is looking for, influence the scope and nature of individual procurements and tailor your tender bid in response to the buyer’s needs – all of which give you an increased chance of success.

How Tracker features can help

Tracker hosts a wide variety of powerful tools run by a wealth of market data. Its features drive the benefits of early engagement, making more effective and productive procurement for everyone.

  • Market Leads and Commercial Projects: Be provided with named contacts and contact details for networking across both the private and public sector. This gets the tender process off to a fantastic start, as you have access to the key decision makers on tenders.
  • Market Leads: Gain advance notification of upcoming framework renewals and recurring projects.
  • Archive data: Understand previous requirements on tenders, with five years of minimum historic data included as standard in each Tracker package. This includes discovering whether your competitors have won business with certain buyers before, uncovering new competitors within your field and identifying sub-contracting opportunities.
  • Spend analysis: Identifying buyer spend patterns, including what they are buying and from.

Experience how Tracker can put your business on the path to success in procurement.

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Get to grips with EU Procurement Directives

Since the 1970s, the European Union has adopted legislation to ensure that public sector procurement in the EU is as open, as competitive and as fairly conducted as possible. These principles form the foundation of the entire tender process in the UK, from advertising tenders to upholding EU thresholds.

The EU rules for public sector procurement are contained within a series of Directives that are updated every few years – or when they need to be. In March 2014, three packages of the ‘EU Public Procurement Directive’ were published, setting out the EU legal framework for public sector procurement. These Directives were then transposed into UK law under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and the Public Contracts Regulations (Scotland) 2015. As you can imagine, these publications are extensive and encompass all elements of a huge industry, but navigating them is much easier than most suppliers imagine.

Tracker Intelligence specialises in helping both potential new and existing suppliers to implement early engagement with public sector buyers. With this in mind, we have highlighted the relevant areas of the EU Public Procurement Directives that support early engagement strategies, enabling suppliers to use the structure of procurement to achieve the most effective procurement results.

Market engagement

Market engagement is the process which takes place prior to, during and after procurement. Early market engagement is crucial, because it allows communication between buyers and suppliers before the tender is officially published. This helps to achieve the following:

  • Identify potential bidders and solutions
  • Build capacity in the market to meet requirements
  • Shape the requirements and scope of the contract
  • Help suppliers to submit strong bids

According to the EU legal framework, the selection criteria which the tender process in the UK adheres to must be formulated in advance, so that potential tenderers know the basis on which their capacity will be assessed. Potential suppliers will also be informed which EU procurement threshold is appropriate to the contract. Communication between buyers and suppliers before the tender is published means suppliers can more fully prepare to meet the tender requirements and determine the best angle their bid response should take.

Contract award criteria

The EU Public Procurement Directives state that contracting authorities shall base the award of public contracts on the most economically advantageous tender from the point of view of the contracting authority. This means that it is important for potential suppliers to understand what aspects, other than price, are important to the buyer e.g energy efficiency, repair costs and other aspects of life cycle costing.

For early engagement discussions, potential suppliers should put additional effort into research to ensure their goods, works or services are the best option for the buyer, including the best price-quality ratio.

Communicate contract weightings

Early engagement is an opportunity for suppliers to question buyers on their plans for contract weightings. The EU Public Procurement Directives state that the contracting authority shall specify, in procurement documents, the relative weighting which it gives to each of the award criteria. Getting ahead of the competition on the contract weightings is a massive advantage in gaining an in-depth understanding of how the project will be completed and structuring a winning tender bid. By taking the time to network and ask the buyer the right questions around their views, you can understand what works for the buyer and what doesn’t. Contract weightings will reflect this, which in turn will help you structure your bid.

Modifying contract requirements

Not only does early engagement allow potential suppliers to shape contracts and specifications, it opens the space to ask questions in advance. The EU Public Procurement Directives do allow contracts and framework agreements to be modified without requiring a new procurement procedure in certain circumstances. However, through effective and substantial early engagement, communication between buyer and supplier should ideally identify any modifications before the tender is published.

How Tracker can help you engage earlier

Tracker enables early engagement in a number of ways:

  • Provides named contacts for networking across both the public and private sectors through Market Leads and Commercial Projects.
  • Provides advance notification of upcoming framework renewals and recurring projects through Market Leads.
  • Enables you to understand previous requirements through Archive Data, thereby facilitating conversations around future contract requirements.
  • Identifies buyer spend patterns including what the contracting authority is buying and from whom via Spend Analysis.
  • Provides alert notices and detailed breakdown of frameworks by lots, suppliers and awards.

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Challenges ahead: The impact of Brexit on procurement

As the leading procurement solution offering the largest tenders and awards database in Europe, at Tracker we continually strive to mitigate any potential Brexit-related issues for our customers. This is to give you the best chance of success in winning public sector and private sector tenders going forward, including government tenders, local authority contracts, healthcare tenders and other OJEU tenders.

Last month Tracker’s parent company BiP Solutions published a survey report in partnership with iGov Survey on ‘Brexit: Challenges and Opportunities for Public Sector Buyers’. The report outlines the key aspects of procurement which Brexit may have an impact on, where perhaps it already has impacted, and the preparations put in place by leaders to accommodate various Brexit scenarios. The survey was completed by 120 individuals representing 85 unique organisations across the UK public sector and offers an in-depth perception of Brexit as it is anticipated to affect the procurement marketplace.

It is important to note that at the time of writing this blog, the UK is set to depart the European Union on 31 January. However, this Brexit date is not set in stone and there are stages in the new Brexit deal which are still to be completed. Until a clear plan of action is established, it is difficult to predict the short-term and long-term impact of Brexit on procurement across the public and private sectors. We acknowledge this as a disclaimer, should any information change in the weeks and months to come.

A lack of clarity as to Brexit’s impact on procurement

55% of respondents to our survey believe that Brexit will have a high or medium impact on their procurement strategy. This also means that 45% of participants expect a low impact or even no impact on their procurement strategy going forward due to Brexit.

With such high numbers anticipating quite different outcomes, it is evident that the full future effects of Brexit on procurement are still unknown or unclear. The extent of disruption or change is indeed difficult to predict in the current climate, with many factors simultaneously at play.

There is similarly a concern for the potential disruption to supply chains. 61% of respondents cite “supply chain disruption impacting on quality and delivery of services” as a concern, yet there is no apparent clear idea of what this impact will be or how to better prepare for it.

Cost is the biggest area of concern

Survey respondents were asked about their views on the impact of Brexit on various aspects of the procurement process and how this might affect their supply chain management. 66% of participants stated that Brexit would have either a high or medium impact on their cost control measures. Others highlighted risk factors such as difficulty in obtaining the goods and services needed to meet requirements in and sourcing a skilled workforce, as shown below.

  • Control costs – 66%
  • Obtain the goods and services needed to meet requirements – 53%
  • Source a skilled workforce – 43%
  • Engage with suppliers outside the UK – 56%
  • Award contracts in a timely manner – 36%

The majority of procurement leaders have not undertaken Brexit preparations

Finally, according to the survey respondents, only 21% of the organisations have a documented strategy on Brexit which they are currently actively enacting. This means that fully 79% of respondents do not consider they have yet effectively implemented a programme of Brexit preparations. Although 17% of participants state they have a plan ready to put in place post-Brexit, 45% have no strategy one way or another.

Win government tenders and more

Tracker is here to help you successfully navigate the procurement process in the public sector and the private sector throughout the forthcoming Brexit departure and long into the future. With our support and business intelligence tools, we can assist you to grow by winning government tenders, local authority contracts and other OJEU opportunities. To find out more, book a free demo with the Tracker team today.

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Estimated construction investment 2020

The latest findings from the IHS Markit and CIPS UK Construction report, released in December 2019, showed a steady decline in business activity across the construction sector. This was due to Brexit and the General Election, held on 12 December, as highlighted by IHS Markit Economics Associate Director Tim Moore: “Brexit uncertainty and spending delays ahead of the General Election were once again the most commonly cited factors highlighted by firms experiencing a drop in construction activity.”

Survey respondents cited confidence that a steadier domestic political landscape and clarity on Brexit could deliver a much-needed boost to clients. After the Conservative party won a large majority in the General Election in December 2019, this may become more likely as the UK’s departure from the EU on 31st January becomes set in stone.

Looking ahead to 2020, construction companies may remain cautious in the early months of the year. After this period, however, construction prospects are set to brighten, as highlighted in the Glenigan 2020-21 Construction Industry Forecast which predicts a 2% rise in projects in 2020 and 5% in 2021. This is good news for the future of construction tenders.

The Glenigan Construction Industry Forecast 2020-21

The report, written before the General Election in December 2019, assumes the Conservative government is elected, Brexit is agreed, and an EU trade agreement is put in place. If these events come to pass, the construction market will grow by 2% in 2020 and a further 5% in 2021. The report provides a positive market analysis over the next two years, citing benefits from the promised increases in public sector investment and growth in construction of private housing. Private housing is expected to rise by 9% in 2020, with Birmingham becoming a strong hotspot for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Other areas of growth include:

  • Affordable housing – affordable and social housing is set to rise by an estimated 25% in 2020.
  • Education – a rise in new school buildings in London and other major cities suggests an 8% rise in 2020 and a further 7% in 2021.
  • Health – funding for NHS England has risen by 14% to £6.7 bn for 2019/2020.
  • Civil engineering work – larger high-profile projects such as the Thames Tideway, Hinkley Point and HS2 should maintain construction activity in the civil engineering sector.

For organisations growing their business in public sector procurement and OJEU tenders, it is worth mentioning that the OJEU thresholds have been updated for 2020-21. Ensure your business is ready for public and private sector procurement in 2020 by being aware of the changes. Read the latest OJEU thresholds now.

Find construction tender opportunities with Tracker

Prepare for 2020 and invest in a powerful procurement platform that can help you grow by finding and winning construction tenders.

Tracker’s Commercial Projects tool ensures your organisation is on top of opportunities available in the commercial marketplace, ahead of your competitors.

Commercial Projects offers much more than just tender alerts. This module enables users to become more proactive when sourcing valuable opportunities, by accessing contract information within 24 hours of publication, complete with contact details. This opens the door to suppliers across multiple sectors including professional services, painting and decorating, building maintenance and refurbishment, civil engineering, landscaping and many more.

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Tracker predicts how the procurement landscape will evolve in 2020


The current pace of change with rapid advancements in technology and persistent threats of cyber security breaches, together with big construction projects and growth in NHS investment shaping our near future, it is a hugely exciting time for public sector and private sector suppliers across the UK in the procurement market. With so many factors at play as we enter a period of change, there is a real wealth of opportunity for businesses to progress and grow in this environment.

Tracker have long been procurement experts, offering a range of business intelligence tools that provide the support and knowledge global businesses need to find and win tenders in a wide range of industries. Below we go through our predictions for the procurement landscape in 2020, with analysis on the role the key themes of strategic procurement, early engagement and social value will play.

More strategic and innovative procurement

eProcurement platforms like Tracker have been in popular usage for procurement management for nearly a decade now, as procurement moves away paperwork. Not only is the procurement market itself becoming more competitive, but the business intelligence tools Tracker offer are becoming more tactical. Powerful tools including spend analysis and archive data are based on market research and historic data conducted by dedicated teams of Tracker researchers allow potential new suppliers to establish procurement strategies in advance of new contracts being published.

Spend analysis collates and publishes all public sector spend data of all transactions undertaken by local and central government in England worth over £500 and £25,000 respectively, allowing businesses to identify buyer spend patterns, track their competitors and expose new business areas for growth. Archive data allows businesses to discover which of their competitors have won business and uncover any new competitors not yet on their radar, with 5 years of archive data now standard on Tracker packages.

eProcurement platforms will increasingly play an integral part in new and existing suppliers’ success in winning contracts.

The growth of public sector framework agreements

Public sector procurement is more competitive than ever. Moving into 2020 and beyond, contracting authorities will be continually looking for suppliers that offer the greatest value for money over a longer period of time, which save them time and resources so that they meet the demands of their ever-growing market. Public sector framework agreements are the way forward for achieving this. Public sector framework agreements give buyers the flexibility to order services and products multiple times from private sector suppliers. For many public sector contracting authorities they are the preferred procurement option because they do not have to re-submit contract renewals for the same goods, works and services, and it means they have a range of suppliers to choose from. Not only do framework agreements support the wider supply chain, but it is also a relatively simple process for SMEs to get on, especially with the help of Tracker.

The Tracker team can help you optimise your supplier profile so that you will receive framework alerts as soon as they become available.

Social value will take centre stage

The concept of social value in procurement has taken hold in recent years after the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, but its application has been inconsistent. However, there is a tide of opinion amongst procurement professionals that 2020 will be the year it takes full flight. Contracting authorities across the UK are no longer only considering the cheapest cost when procuring goods, works or services from suppliers – they are demanding a greater quality and more conscious awareness of environmental factors and how procurement can be sustainable when done well. Most of all, buyers are looking for suppliers that can strive to make a positive impact on wider communities. A good example of this is employing apprentices into full time work to tackle unemployment and help young people to gain training and qualifications.

The aim of social value is to drive the goal that procurement is no longer merely a transaction and money in pocket for suppliers – it is a project that can produce far greater, longer-lasting effects if buyers and suppliers work effectively together. This idea of social value and collaboration is making faster progress in some areas more than others. Procurement in Scotland, for example, requires every public body to consider how its procurement activity can be used to improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of its area, and how it will facilitate the involvement of SMEs, third sector and supported businesses to promote innovation.

Early engagement increases chances of success

Early engagement is fast becoming a key strategy for suppliers seeking to win new business. By reaching out to public sector buyers earlier, suppliers can build a relationship with the contracting authority and even shape the contract specification based on their proposal, setting them apart from competition.

Tracker is the champion of early engagement, and supports suppliers by giving exclusive access to hundreds of thousands of named decision makers and their contact details on tenders from construction and infrastructure to IT and computing, before a tender has even been published. Early engagement encourages clearer communication and collaboration between buyers and suppliers.

How do I find out about public and private tenders?

Experience Tracker and win more tenders

If your business is already winning work with the public and private sector, expand your business opportunities further with Tracker Intelligence’s packages.

Our innovative range of business intelligence tools support early engagement efforts and give suppliers access to the right information, that help you to identify opportunities as soon as they become available. Engage earlier and win more tenders from a range of industries with Tracker Intelligence. Try it for free now.

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New year, new opportunities to win NHS tenders

Tracker host the largest tenders database in Europe, offering a wide range of healthcare tenders, issued by both private healthcare providers and the NHS, that can expand your business. If your business is seeking to become an NHS supplier in the near future, now is the time to start your preparation. The NHS is looking to encourage new innovative suppliers to work with the healthcare sector and NHS tenders are published every day, which Tracker can help you win.

Tracker’s parent company, BiP Solutions, recently published their latest NHS market report, ‘Current Trends in Healthcare Procurement: Beyond collaboration and transformation’. The report offers a rich overview of the current themes surrounding the NHS and its services, and the need for a greater quality of care, combined with greater efficiency and collaboration in healthcare procurement to meet the demands of its ever-growing, ever-changing service.

The sheer size of the NHS is worth acknowledging, as it is a huge advantage for potential new suppliers. The NHS is the fifth largest organisation in the world by employee size and spends over £1 billion every three days. As shown in the attached infographic, the highest-spending NHS organisations across the UK are divided across categories including IT, Frameworks, Medical Supplies and Services. The value of contracts, ranging from £45.8 million to £16.49 billion from the NHS biggest spenders, shows the sheer volume of opportunity available for business growth in the NHS for potential new suppliers of all sizes, from SMEs to larger global companies.

Click the image to download

For new businesses looking to grow in the healthcare sector, the current climate offers an exciting opportunity to build innovative ways of providing the goods, works and services required by the NHS. Innovation is one way in which emerging suppliers can help the NHS to solve complex challenges through procurement.

Tracker’s business intelligence tools help you receive healthcare tenders relevant to your business every day, direct to your inbox, saving you time and resource in searching for them. Tracker also supports you to set up strategies to engage earlier with healthcare buyers before a tender has even been published, so you can be proactive in establishing relationships with buyers and influence their decision when awarding the contract.

The drive for ever more effective procurement in the healthcare sector offers extensive potential for business growth. With the help of Tracker, your business will have the best chance to win NHS tenders. Not only will Tracker’s experience and expertise in healthcare procurement enhance your market knowledge, but your business will experience first-hand how Tracker gives you a competitive advantage and can increase your tendering success in the sector. Sign up for your free trial of Tracker, which enables you to experience Tracker’s powerful business intelligence tools completely free of charge for three days.

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The Public Sector 2020 and Beyond Report

With impending end-of-year festivities, December is not typically the month of maximum productivity – its very atmosphere is the opposite of business as usual. However, recent research conducted by Tracker Intelligence’s parent company, BiP Solutions, has shown that December is a critical time of year for businesses. Instead of taking their feet off the gas, businesses should be taking advantage of the quiet time of year to get ahead of their competitors and prepare for procurement success in the following months.

The release of BiP Solutions extensive report on ‘The Public Sector 2020 and Beyond’, explores the key factors that can help suppliers engage with this huge, diverse public sector market in the coming months, while your competitors are hibernating.

Squeeze the most out of opportunities – when your competitors aren’t

‘The Public Sector 2020 and Beyond’ report details the key political, social, economic and technological factors affecting the market, and is designed to help Tracker customers grow. It will be updated regularly throughout the General Election campaign, as well as immediately after the General Election results.

It is essential that investment is continues to be a priority over the festive period. For suppliers, it is the prime opportunity to prepare for an upturn in the volume of contract notices in the following three months, as research has shown there is a consistent uplift in the volume of contract opportunities published in the first quarter of the calendar year.

Politics, public spending and contract volumes

With the most recent Brexit extension set to end on 31 January 2020, the report takes a closer look at the impact of politics on the future of public spending ahead of the General Election on 12 December. The timing of the General Election is unusual, being the first to be held in December since 1923. However, this is an advantage for businesses working with the public sector, since any distraction caused by the Election can be absorbed in the usual frenetic run-up to Christmas.

The research conducted by BiP Solutions into contract notice activity during the last two elections (7 May 2015 and 6 June 2017) reveals that there was no significant downturn in the volume of new notices published immediately prior to polling day, compared to that in non-election years.

BiP Solutions research also anticipates that the current General Election campaign will have no significant bearing on pre-election contract notice volumes. For organisations concerned with the impact of the current political climate on growth in procurement, the evidence suggests that the correlations between the two are more positive than you might presume.

Smart suppliers should use December to research future opportunities and build their potential future opportunities and build their engagement strategies while their competitors are out of office. Your hard work and strategic planning will pay off, come the new year, when the preparation you have done using Tracker’s wide array of invaluable business intelligence tools will ensure you are well equipped to reap the benefits of the first quarter upturn.

New year, new business

Tracker Intelligence is dedicated to helping you achieve maximum productivity over this period, to help you get the best possible start to your new year.

Download BiP Solutions’ report ‘The Public Sector 2020 and Beyond’ and check back for updates throughout the General Election period.

How to win a tender – the procurement process explained

The procurement process can be lengthy and complex depending on the value of the contract and the requirements of the contracting authority. If you are reading this guide, we assume you already have experience in the procurement marketplace and are looking to gain further understanding of how to win tenders. Tracker Intelligence helps organisations in the UK and globally win tenders in a range of sectors through implementation of business intelligence tools which organisations can use to their advantage throughout the procurement process.

1. Find the contract that is right for your business

With thousands of public sector and private sector contracts published every day, it can be an extremely time-consuming process just finding a contract that your organisation may be interested in. Tracker’s Tender Alerts service sends you tenders that are relevant to what your business is looking for, straight to your inbox, every day. These daily alerts save your organisation valuable time and resource, maximising productivity. Simply open your emails and you will have all the contract notice information, including the project start date, requirements and where you can access the full tender documentation all there and ready to go.

2. Get the tender documentation

The Contract Notice will specify where you can access the tender documentation. Before you apply for a tender, you will need to read the full tender documentation. It will state the specific requirements, scope of the contract (for example, if they are placing an emphasis on environmental factors), and which tendering procedure is to be used. The tendering procedure will determine how you as a potential supplier structure your tender bid.

It is crucial that you read through the tender documents thoroughly and more than once to ensure that you understand the project that is involved. Pay attention to the evaluation criteria and weightings that will be used to score responses. Tracker’s Bid Manager tool will help you to do this efficiently, as it centralises all documents related to your tender into one place which you can access anytime and anywhere.

3. Engage early with the buyer and ask questions

Early engagement between buyer and supplier is crucial to enabling a proactive approach to tendering. In every tendering process you will be given the opportunity to submit questions about the tender documents before submitting your bid. Your questions and answers will be available for everyone to see (but published anonymously) to encourage a tendering process that is fair and equal for all parties involved. This stage of the process is hugely helpful to clarifying details in the documents, ensuring that all information is correct and phrased well. Making the most of this stage is vital, because your active contribution may help you win the tender.

Tracker specialises in early engagement strategies to increase your chances of tender success. By providing named contacts on thousands of contracts across the public and private sector, Tracker encourages direct communication between potential suppliers and the contracting authority outside the question and answers stage of the tendering process.

4. Prepare your tender response

Writing a tender response is a skill. It takes time, practice and perseverance. If you do it well, it can be your key to winning tender opportunities within a marketplace where prompt payment is guaranteed. Before you start writing, make sure you have allowed yourself enough time to research the buyer. The more you know about the client and their requirements, the better. Tracker’s Spend Analysis and Archive Data business intelligence tools will especially help you at this stage in the procurement process to analyse your competitors and gain a deeper understanding of the marketplace. In doing so, they will help you understand what the buyer is looking for and tailor your response around this.

Contracting authorities want the best possible outcome for their tenders, so it is in their best interests to help every supplier submit the most accurate and well-informed bids. It is worth noting that contracting authorities may have worked with some of the same suppliers for a long time, but these are not necessarily the suppliers that offer the best quality goods, works or services or the best value for money. Structure your response to show the benefits you can give the buyer by solving their problems, and where you can add value, for instance by including maintenance or support within the product package. As a supplier, focus your efforts on showing that you have the skills and experience to fulfil these requirements through evidence. Above all, make sure you meet all the buyer’s requirements as without that, your bid will instantly be rejected.

5. Submit your tender response

After you have written your tender response and it has been proof-read by multiple people, ensure your tender response is submitted before the deadline. If you submit it late, even by a few minutes, your tender will be automatically disqualified and all of your efforts will be wasted. If you did submit before the deadline, you’ll enter a waiting game until the contracting authority awards the contract.

6. After you’ve submitted the tender response – what happens next?

Congratulations on submitting your bid! Now your bid will be scored and evaluated. In some cases, the contracting authority will invite you for an interview or site visit, to get a clearer idea of how you will deliver the project requirements. After this process, you will be faced with one of two outcomes, known as ‘an award decision notice’.

Outcome 1: You weren’t successful

This happens, unfortunately. There can be a number of reasons why you weren’t successful. In order to understand why and learn from your mistakes for next time, always ask the contracting authority for a debrief. You are entitled to feedback of your performance throughout the procurement process, and it essential that you are given this.

If your organisation feels they were treated unfairly during the process, you can challenge the award decision.

Outcome 2: You won the contract

Congratulations! This is a great achievement. You will have further meetings with the contract authority to prepare for the commencement of work on the project. Remember, even when you succeed, you are entitled to feedback about your performance. No one scores full marks, and there are always lessons to learn for next time.

To increase your chances of success in the procurement process, find out more about how Tracker Intelligence’s business tools can help you win business in the procurement market. Request your free three-day trial today, with no credit card required.

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How to win public sector tenders


Public sector tenders have long been a route to business growth, especially for large organisations. However, thanks to recent regulatory measures introduced to encourage fair and healthy competition across the supplier base, there are growing opportunities for SMEs to win public sector tenders. Tracker Intelligence is a leader in public sector procurement, reporting on market developments and providing rich resources in a single knowledge hub to help organisations of all sizes win business with government. With this guidance, your business will increase its chances of public sector tendering success.

What are public sector tenders?

You will doubtless have some understanding of the public sector tendering process; however, knowing about public sector tenders and winning public sector tenders are two vastly different propositions. It is helpful first to build your knowledge of the public procurement process. Public procurement is simply the acquisition by public authorities of goods, works or services through a public contract or tender. An example of this could be supplying office furniture for a government building.

The public authority that needs this work completed will publish a contract notice and invite organisations to bid for it – a procedure known as issuing an ‘invitation to tender’. This stage is crucial to public sector procurement, because it ensures open and fair competition for public contracts, and efficient spending of public money.

For an organisation to be chosen to provide the required goods, works or services, it must first bid for the tender before it can win the tender, by following some helpful tips highlighted below.

How can I find public sector tenders?

Winning public sector tenders relies heavily on finding tenders suitable to your business’s capabilities and interests. This process becomes much more straightforward with Tracker’s numerous business intelligence tools. Tracker Tender Alerts delivers up-to-date, tailored information based on your unique supplier profile. The searchable tender database and analytical tools provided enable early engagement with public authorities publishing tenders in your industry sector as well as evaluation of your competitors’ strengths and strategies, among other effective actions. These tools give subscriber organisations a huge advantage in winning public sector tenders, because they offer visibility of upcoming tenders, allowing for stronger bid preparation.

How to write a tender response

If you have found a tender that you wish to bid for, your organisation will need to write what is known as a ‘tender response’. Writing a tender response can be a complex and lengthy procedure, taking up valuable time and resource. However, with Tracker’s guidance there is no need to feel daunted by the challenge. A good first point to know when starting to write your tender response is that there are just five commonly used tender procedures which suppliers might need to follow.

Restricted Procedure

This route allows the awarding authority to restrict, through a pre-selection or qualification process, the number of organisations that are invited to submit a tender. The pre-selection stage assesses the suitability and capability of a firm seeking to bid by way of a questionnaire, often named a Selection Questionnaire (SQ) or Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ).

Open Procedure

A one-stage process that is open to any business wishing to submit a tender. The regulations require this process to be used for all tenders for contracts below the EU services threshold. There is no pre-qualification stage in the process – questionnaires and tenders are issued and submitted as one package.

Competitive Dialogue

This procedure has been specifically designed for larger and more complex procurements, and seeks to bring on board industry expertise to work with the client during the tender process to arrive at a solution that meets the tender criteria. It is designed to be flexible, but it can be an expensive and lengthy procurement route that should not be embarked upon lightly by anyone new to public procurement.

Competitive with Negotiation

This procedure offers a more structured process than Competitive Dialogue. It requires a clear specification of deliverables and a firm tender submission at the end of the negotiation process which becomes a contractual commitment.

Innovation Partnership

This is a fairly new process specifically aimed at Research & Development work and is likely to appeal to smaller businesses which often hold the cards in innovation and development. The idea is to encourage innovative suppliers to work with the client to develop solutions not currently available in the market.

The procurement procedures above are the principal means of tendering in the public sector today. Learning how they work will greatly increase your chances of composing a winning tender response.

How to win public sector tenders

There are many tips you can take on board to help you win public sector tenders. The most essential is to properly understand the tender documents that the public authority has released, identifying the key objectives of the tender and documenting how you will achieve these for the authority in your response.

Give clear evidence of cases where you have achieved similar benefit in the past, to show your organisation is credible and up to the task. Make sure you have researched the suppliers the contracting authority has worked with in the past and specify what positively sets you apart. And above all else, ensure that you submit your tender response before the deadline. Once the deadline has passed, your bid will be automatically disqualified and your hard work will all have been for nothing.

If you would like more information on how to write and win public sector tenders, read the Ultimate Guide to Procurement published by our parent company, BiP Solutions. As well as this, keep checking the Tracker Intelligence website for market news and procurement guidance.

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UK Export Finance: How the Government is Supporting Exports from UK Construction

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UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK Government’s export credit agency, has published an overview of how the Government is supporting UK exports through the organisation’s operations. The article particularly highlights exports in the construction sector – one of the UK’s most lucrative markets, which will play a key role in shaping the economy in the months and years after Brexit.

The overview is an essential read for organisations looking to grow their business in construction procurement. Whether you are already a Tracker Intelligence customer, or are yet to become one, rich market research and analysis of construction trends is at the core of what Tracker does.

Construction highlights from the overview

The global construction industry is going from strength to strength. The sector contributes more than £8.49 trillion per annum to the world economy, a figure that is forecast to rise to £10.1 trillion by 2022. In the UK, the construction industry generates 2.4 million jobs and contributes more than £113 billion per annum. This equates to roughly 7% of all GDP – a huge figure in comparison to other sectors.

The high-quality work that the UK construction industry produces has long been world-renowned, a position reflected in the prediction that the UK will overtake Germany as the world’s sixth largest construction market by 2030. For organisations looking to grow business in the construction sector, the future is looking increasingly positive, despite political uncertainty.

The UK Government, through UKEF, has shown a strong commitment to driving UK construction business. In the last financial year alone, UKEF provided more than £570 million of support to exporters in the construction industry, a hearty push to help the sector achieve its full potential. The Government has an ambition to further raise exports as a proportion of GDP from 30% to 35%, and support from UKEF is at the heart of this. With this additional investment comes greater opportunities for tenders across all areas of infrastructure and construction. Opportunities in private sector construction are particularly widespread, which is great news for increasing volumes of construction tenders, or better yet – increasing the chances of small or medium-sized organisations winning them.

Overall, UKEF currently supports £17 billion worth of UK exports across multiple sectors, helping to reinforce the UK’s position as a major player in the global market. The agency will continue to fund and support UK businesses, making domestic products and services more accessible to buyers all over the world. This is much the same goal as Tracker’s Commercial Projects tool – granting access to contract information for over 400,000 construction projects from the early planning stage on, as well as 10,000 non-planning projects a year. This includes specific and up-to-date contact details for the key decision makers involved within 24 hours of a contract being published.

A commitment to the growth of the UK construction sector

Tracker Intelligence’s goal remains to enable businesses of all sizes to grow through the provision of quality business intelligence and market analysis. Commercial Projects works to make construction tenders, among opportunities in other sectors, more accessible through early engagement strategies, increasing tender success rates and collaborative tendering. It is a powerful tool which saves organisations time, resource and money.

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