Most companies that are successful in the procurement market – companies that win bids regularly - are able to anticipate winnable opportunities before the bids are published. This is because successful companies have an action plan that allows them to identify opportunities very early in the procurement cycle and get ahead of potential competitors.
Where should you start?
Start by identifying the potential clients for your company. Do research about what public or private organizations could be potentially interested in your goods, works or services, and assess how big the demand could be. Try to understand their activities, needs and challenges, and what you can offer them. Take actions such as revising the information on your potential clients’ webpages, asking for their procurement plan, or revising current and past bid notices. This will help you become familiar with the client’s programs and services and its mode of operation.
Procurement organizations have their own procedures and regulations to procure from external suppliers. You need to find out if the procedures are publicly available and how you can obtain them. Usually, public and international organizations follow highly regulated procurement procedures that are public and easy to identify. In the case of the private sector, you may need to check with the procurement department of each of your potential clients. Getting familiar with the rules and regulations used by your potential client is a great advantage and will help you be better prepared for the procurement stage.
In the procurement market, as with any other market, it is important you build a relationship of confidence and trust with your potential clients. Meet with potential buyers and get to know them better. Let potential clients know about the business of your company and why they need your works, goods or services. Explain to them the uniqueness and advantages of working with you. Business development is normally not allowed once the bid notice is published, so you need to do this before the invitations to bid are published.
Some procurement organizations have a database of potential suppliers. Find out if your potential clients have one, and what requirements and processes are involved in getting registered. Some bid opportunities may only be accessible to companies registered in the supplier’s database. If you are not there, you will miss the opportunities.
It is common for companies to establish formal and informal agreements to participate together in procurement processes. A lone company may not be able to participate in certain opportunities due to the size or the complexity of the project.
Potential partners can be identified using several resources:
- Examine past contract award notices to identify companies that have previously won bids in your sector of interest.
- Participate in private sector networking events organized by local business support organizations.
- Use available firm databases (e.g. databases from sectoral firms’ associations).
- Join professional and trade associations.
- Use your network.
Do not be afraid to approach your competitors and discuss possible areas where you may be able to complement each other. It is common to find companies competing in certain bid processes and teaming-up together in others. Before establishing an agreement with a company make sure it has good reputation. Assess its culture and mode of operation to see if it is a good fit for you and that you can work together as a team.
You can save time if you have the standard materials prepared ahead, allowing you to better focus on preparing the specific technical and financial documentation required to submit the bid. You should review current and past bid notices specific to your potential clients and sector of interest to determine which documents are usually required in the bidding process. Keep your standard materials up to date and translated in required languages (if applicable).
Establish an internal methodology to answer the request for bids. For each bid, identify who is the most qualified person to take the lead and coordinate the preparation of the offer. The coordinator makes sure that all required information (technical, financial, and administrative) is provided by each department and that the final document/offer is consistent. He/she also needs to ensure that everything is collected before the deadline, allowing time for revision. You should also provide training to the staff members who will usually be involved in the preparation of offers and proposals. This will help you to increase significantly the quality of your offer and avoid basic mistakes during preparation.
Regularly check different sources of information to identify bid notices, and assign a person responsible for it. The sooner you identify a bid notice, the better, as more days will be left to prepare the offer.
There is a variety of national and international organizations that offer tender search services. You may want to check which organizations offer these types of services (this type of service) in your country and assess if what they offer would be valuable for you. Being able to identify all tenders in one single portal could be of great help.
Once a bid advertisement has been identified, you need to decide whether to participate or not.
Give careful thought to whether it is worth entering a bid competition because answering a request for a bid can be expensive in terms of effort and time devoted by your staff to prepare the offer.
In order to assess your chances of winning, try to answer the following questions for each bid notice identified:
- Can my company provide the goods, works, services procured at the required quality, time and cost?
- Does my company meet all eligibility and qualification requirements?
- Can my company meet the submission deadlines?
With experience, you will become more selective about the bids you submit, therefore increasing your chances of winning the bids and decreasing the time spent in preparing them.
If you want to know how ready you are to access procurement opportunities, complete the self-assessment questionnaire provided.
For more resources, are you interested in...
- Exploring procurement opportunities? Consult Accessing Procurement Opportunities: Frequently Asked Questions
- Knowing about what it takes to become a successful supplier? Explore 4 Steps to Success: Become a Supplier of a Public or Private Organization
- Preparing yourself to access procurement opportunities? Assess yourself: how prepared are you?
- Preparing a winning proposal? Learn How to Prepare a Winning Proposal. Do's and Don'ts.
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