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The Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts launches

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In response to UK government procurement reform, BiP Solutions has thrown a lifeline to those seeking public sector business by releasing its Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts.

The Ultimate Guide starts by explaining the scale of the public sector marketplace and the financial gains it has to offer businesses of all types and sizes. It then explains the preparation work that suppliers must do before bidding for contracts, as well as the practical steps involved in the various stages of the bidding process.

Not content to leave suppliers hanging, the Ultimate Guide goes further to explain what action can be taken after a bid, should an unsuccessful applicant seek further information. With jargon busters, top tips and graphs, the website appeals to a variety of users, from procurement novices to experts.

Procurement expertise is something that BiP Solutions has honed over 31 years; the company’s offering includes procurement services, portals, exhibitions and training. Now the Ultimate Guide is adding to these resources, linking private sector suppliers with public sector buyers.

Public sector buying is key to the private sector, as it is estimated some £263bn per annum is spent on procurement across the UK public sector.

And no company is too small to benefit from this business, as the UK government has an ongoing drive to involve SMEs in its supply chain, resulting in 27.1% of central government buying (between 2014-15) being with small businesses.

BiP Solutions itself reflects this success, as the SME has a history of winning public sector contracts, including with the 2012 Olympic Games, the Department for Communities and Local Government, Education Scotland and the Home Office.

Keen to spread this good fortune, BiP Solutions’ COO Simon Burges urged suppliers to read the Ultimate Guide.

He said: “For over three decades BiP Solutions has built its procurement expertise, and connected suppliers with public sector buyers.

“These connections have been developed through BiP products, services and events, which map the procurement landscape.

“Now, mapping this landscape, BiP is proud to launch the Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts. This guide will take suppliers step by step through the tender process, providing comprehensive advice in laymen’s terms.

“The Ultimate Guide is a complimentary publication that reaches out and offers suppliers an insight into BiP’s marketplace knowledge. This knowledge has never been more relevant to suppliers as local government devolution and central government transparency measures are opening up an increasing number of public sector contracts.

“With this in mind, I would urge suppliers to go onto the Ultimate Guide website and read its vital advice.”

Senior PASS (Procurement Advice and Support Service) Consultant Eddie Regan added: “Contractors, whether micro businesses or multi-nationals, can never learn enough about the public procurement rules and regulations. Success is driven by knowledge and hopefully many will find the Ultimate Guide a useful step on the journey to success.”

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FSB Scotland: Government must do more to help small businesses

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UK Government data from the last financial year shows that, despite affirmative action, small businesses only supplied 27.1% of central government contracts by value (£12.1bn). Here, FSB Scotland spokesman Stuart Mackinnon tells BiP Solutions journalist Julie Shennan how this figure can be improved.

In financial year 2014/15, 27.1% of central government buying was with small businesses, either directly (10.9%) or through the supply chain (16.2%).

The figures, although low, exceeded the target set during the last Parliament, which aimed to see 25% of central government goods and services spent via small businesses by 2015.

To help meet this target, the UK Government got 33 strategic suppliers to sign the Prompt Payment Code. By signing the Code, these companies promised to pay their suppliers in good time, making business run more smoothly for small sub-contractors.

This was just one in a series of government measures taken to encourage small businesses to compete for public sector contracts; others included:

  • Requiring the entire public sector supply chain to be paid within 30 days;
  • Abolishing pre-qualification questionnaires for low-value public sector contracts;
  • And requiring the public sector to publish its contracts on Contracts Finder.

While these measures have helped many small businesses, Stuart Mackinnon, a spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland, argues that they do not go far enough to support small and micro businesses – which employ the majority of Scots.

He said: “This government data reveals that it is still difficult for smaller firms to win public work. However, this isn’t just a challenge for HM Government departments.

“Scottish Government figures reveal that the Scottish public sector spends less than 7% of its procurement budget with firms with fewer than ten employees. These enterprises, dubbed micro businesses, account for nine in every ten businesses north of the border.”

Mr Mackinnon added: “We’ve seen helpful efforts to reduce the bureaucracy associated with bidding for public contracts. However, the concerted drive to get better value for the public purse through aggregation makes it much more difficult for less established operators to win work. 

“While it would be fair to highlight that many smaller firms will benefit through the procurement supply chain, many firms would argue that the primary contractor will take the lion’s share of the profit.

“Furthermore, primary contractors benefit from public sector prompt payment. Also, those currently winning public works can highlight this experience when bidding for more contracts in the future.”    

He continued: “What can be done? Well, we can disaggregate contracts and make the case for proportionate terms and conditions – such as insurance requirements.

“Public sector leaders can also encourage purchasing professionals to build their systems and processes with smaller players in mind.

“Lastly, we need to see purchasers being encouraged to take a small amount of risk. New and smaller players will never get a bigger chunk of spend if those that have always won the work continue to do so.” 

For further public sector business comment, keep following the BiP blog…