The public procurement budget in Ireland is worth €9 billion per annum, and yet only 10% of Irish SMEs compete for tenders in what is essentially the largest sales pipeline in the country.
Addressing this anomaly, TenderCon Cork, powered by TenderScout and the Procurement Transformation Institute, provided SMEs in Ireland with the inside track on the public procurement process on Thursday, June 14th at the Western Gateway Building at UCC.
The event featured influential speakers from some of Ireland’s largest buyers of SME goods and services, as well as small businesses that are successfully winning contracts.
Dermot Callaghan, Procurement Portfolio Manager at the Office of Government Procurement, and Sean Bresnan, the HSE Head of Procurement, explained procurement from the buyer’s side, including procurement systems design, supplier and contract management, cost savings and procurement legislation.
SMEs, who want to, can win tenders, Sean Bresnan of the HSE says, and, if they dedicate time to engaging properly and fully with the process, the effort will pay off. Sean also shared with us the very common mistakes that are all too frequently made when it comes to tendering for government contracts, and how to avoid them:
- Avoid the scatter-gun approach
- Keep a keen eye open for basic grammatical mistakes
- Don’t forget to actually sell the benefits of your product or service
- Keep the big picture in mind when selling your product
- Always get your pricing and margin right – the bid won’t make sense unless you are making a margin
A key message from the buyers at the event was that people buy from people; pre-market engagement is crucial to understand what the specific needs of the buyer are and to understand if you can actually meet these needs.
“It’s a combination of telling the right story and understanding the buyers’ requirements that makes winning a strong possibility”, Tony Corrigan, CEO and Founder of TenderScout shared with the audience of almost 100 SMEs.
At EU tendering level, Vassilis Tsanidis, Policy Officer with the European Commission, explains the EU’s commitment to policies supporting access to ‘Innovation Procurement’, where public bodies act as a launch customer for innovative goods or services, typically not yet available on a large-scale commercial basis. The European procurement market open to Irish businesses is worth €2 trillion, so it makes sense to understand the rules of engagement.
Mike McGrath, who has been part of a European Commission Expert Group for e-Tendering, and has vast experience in procurement, innovation and sales, also contributed to the discussion aimed at demystifying the art of bidding for, and winning public contracts.
Dr. David McKevitt, lecturer in procurement at University College Cork, who has researched SME participation in public procurement, provided valuable insights on strategies for success, as well as challenging the current status quo with all the emphasis on tendering, and not enough on the actual outcomes.
Mary Dwyer, Aspira, joined the SME Success Stories panel, and shared her learnings on what works and doesn’t when tendering for government contracts. She reminded the audience to always ask for feedback if you are not successful in your tender bid.
TenderScout works with businesses across Europe and the States, helping them to win more tenders and save time and money doing so. We would love if all businesses opened up to this huge public procurement pipeline. Get in touch to change the way you win.