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Tendering Masterclass – Brighton
As part of the Green Growth Platform events programme, September saw the Brighthelm Centre play host to a half-day Tendering Masterclasses for local businesses. There were presentations by Jo Southernwood from Carbon Minded sustainability consultancy and Julian Wood from the University of Brighton procurement team.
The day began with Julian Wood giving a short talk about the University of Brighton’s procurement process, plus some insight into public sector tendering more broadly, informed by his previous experience working at the local council.
After a short break for coffee, biscuits and networking, before Jo Southernwood took the floor. Jo spoke about the different types of tendering procedures, gave lots of advice on filling out tendering applications and led an exercise evaluating extracts from a sample tender application. It was an engaging session, with Jo’s talk interspersed with questions, comments and discussion from the delegates. The event finished in the early afternoon with a sandwich lunch and networking session.
The main takeaway from the Tendering Masterclass was that it is much more effective to spend a long time on just a very few select tenders, rather than a wider but less thorough ‘scattergun’ approach. There is little point in applying for tenders where the business can only fulfil ‘most’ of the work, because there will be many applicants that can do it all. Jo advised the delegates to only apply if they can show how they will complete 100% of the work – or else partner with a company that can fill in the gaps.
Much like a job application, tender applications need to be tailored to the specific work in question, making them fairly demanding in terms of time and resources. However Jo told the delegates – most of which were from micro and small businesses – not to be discouraged, because the tendering process does get much easier after the first application. Although every bid needs to be unique and tailored to the client, some elements such as case studies and company policies can be recycled – and of course like anything, the more familiar it is, the easier the task becomes.
Despite the challenges, tendering for public sector work is a potentially lucrative opportunity for local small businesses. The whole public sector spends £236 billion a year, and local councils alone spend £40 billion a year. Encouragingly, there is a big push towards increasing procurement from SMEs, at both European and national levels. Plus, stability is definitely a key benefit for supplying the public sector, as clients are very unlikely to go under and contracts are often long and/or repeated, providing a steady income stream.
If you missed this seminar, there will be another Tendering Masterclass in Crawley on 5th November 2015.
The Green Growth Platform supports a thriving and innovative green sector in Sussex through a unique menu of business services delivered by a team of industry specialists, business advisors and university experts. The Platform offers businesses 1-2-1 coaching, events and networking, innovation and R&D support and skills and training.
The Sustainable Business Network is pleased to be working in partnership with the Green Growth Platform to run a series of networking events, site tours and specialist seminars.