Is the tender process worth it?
Since the majority of work for UK public sector bodies goes through some form of tender process if you decide never to do it you are effectively cutting yourself off from a very large chunk of potential clients, including councils, hospitals, universities, development agencies, government departments and others. Quite a lot of 3rd sector organisations, such as charities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises – and many private sector organisations also use tendering for some contracts so taking a decision to never engage with tenders is not something you should do lightly.
The main fear or complaint small companies particularly have about the tendering process is that is too competitive, the buyer will have loads of documents to wade through and bids from small companies will be swamped by those from larger companies that have more time and money to spend on responding to tenders.
To some extent this is true – some tenders do generate very large numbers of bids, with some clients telling us they’ve received 100 or more documents from suppliers. However, the more specialist tenders often receive very few responses and we have had clients who have received only 2 or 3 who have contacted us to thank us for publicising their requirements. The challenge for you is to work out which is which! There are various factors that affect the number of responses there are likely to be;
Any tender published on OJEU will be published by numerous tender alert services and can also be found for free on the TED website – so a lot of people will know about the tender.
A tender that asks for very generic services – such as ‘Marketing consultancy’ or ‘PR and Communications Services’ with very little extra detail and few specific requirements is open to a response from almost every PR or Marketing agency in the UK and is likely to attract a lot of responses.
Very large tenders tend to be tackled only by bigger companies since many small business are put off by the scale and complexity. Equally, a large consultancy probably won’t feel its worth bidding for only a few thousand pounds worth of work.
Tenders that require very specialist skills or experience and are not widely publicised may attract very few responses.
Tenders aren't really open - so what's the point?