When is it a tender or when is it a contract? Is there a specific time frame or is it a renewable deal? Which government department should you contact and when? To the budding start-up or mature company looking to reach out to the public sector for the first time the world of tender-hunting can present some tricky hurdles and unforeseen obstacles. Although government website material is concise, it is not always a definitive resource on ground-breaking ways to engage with the world of tenders.
A valuable reference point for procurement policy can be found on the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s Selling to Government page. The on-site mapping gives a general introduction for all suppliers, moving from knowing your customer to watching for opportunities, relationship building and commercial competition. It is also advisable to visit and spend some time on the Selling to Government page. Although not as progressively structured as the mapping feature on the Department of Finance and Deregulations site, this reference highlights two important aspects for SMEs – procurement on-time payment policy for small business and small and medium enterprise (SME) participation ICT procurement policy. The latter is a policy designed to encourage SMEs to participate in the tender process for large ICT contracts with an expected value of over $20 million, while the former highlights the effectiveness of timetables and government buying cycles.
A quick Google search on ‘tender tips’ or ‘tender strategy’ isn’t always going to identify the best material for your business. Numerous companies in the tender industry provide tender alerts that suppliers can subscribe to, with current opportunities across a range of tenders.
However if you already know the government department you would like to sell to it is advisable to look for specific advice. NSW Health, for example, run an eTendering website where suppliers can subscribe to an alert system.
When writing a tender, it is advisable to research the language of government and remember why your product will suit the tender specifications. Remember to be succinct, give applicable examples and check for errors.
On the subject of trends areas to watch this year include a boom in the health industry, new adaptations for ICT and policy affecting education reform. As was reported by A-ZGovBIZ last month Australia’s health boom offers promising opportunities for suppliers across a range of areas, while the developing nature of the Gonski review and changes to tied funding are areas to watch in education.
One of the most interesting areas of policy change is economic trends for IT and communications. As reported by the Financial Review, 2013 will see the introduction of new contracts in defence. In hotly contested deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars, information systems will also be designed for the Distributed Computing Central Services. These tenders were last awarded to Japanese giant Fujitsu.
IT blog CRN also lists a promising year ahead for information technology, with a range of post-budget opportunities on the horizon. These include a $215.9 million upgrade between 2012-13 and 2018-19 of Australia’s International Communications Network (ICN) operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, proposed contracts supporting the NBN and $30 million over three years (including $1.5 million in capital funding in 2013-14) to maintain and expand the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) online services.