The Scottish Government state that ‘almost 80% of public sector contract awards now go to SMEs’. Yet, when speaking with SMEs, I have found that public sector opportunities are often dismissed. They appear to either be overlooked or are an after-thought to the seemingly more attractive private sector.
This surprises me under normal circumstances, it surprises me even more in the current climate. Now I wouldn’t want to suggest that the public sector presents opportunities for every SME out there, however, there are four great reasons why you should consider tendering for public sector work.
1. LONG TERM CONTRACTS
Public sector opportunities tend to be long term contracts. This typically lands somewhere between 1 – 4 years. I have seen shorter, around 3 months, and I have seen up to 10 years! However, these extremes are more unusual. Often public sector contracts also include the option to extend by 1 year or even 2 years.
The longevity of these contracts mean that you are able to achieve a more stable pipeline. If your ‘base load’ is made up of long-term public sector contracts that provide you security then you can build, more volatile, private sector work on top of this.
2. A SUSTAINABLE BUYER
The public sector is here to stay. Not only that, due to their high profile nature, public sector bodies need to ensure robust and transparent processes are in place and are adhered to. They are highly accountable. This means low risk of invoices not being paid or payment being significantly delayed – good news for you as a supplier!
3. YOU CAN FORECAST UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES
One of the great things from a business development perspective is that you can gain a reasonably accurate view on when a public sector tender will come up. As I mentioned earlier, public sector contracts are on cycles. This means you can see the duration of a contract, what month of the year it was last procured – yes all of this information is publicly available – and therefore gauge that the opportunity is likely to come up for tender again in that month once the contract ends.
So in theory, you can forecast public sector opportunities years in advance. At the very least you can gain a reasonable understanding what is coming up in the next year. This allows for planning resources and taking time to create a bid strategy before the tender is live so you can ensure you submit a client focused, highly compelling proposal, in an efficient way.
4. FORECASTING RESOURCES IS MORE SIMPLE
Again, the longevity of the contracts allow you to plan your delivery resource with more confidence. Rather than dealing in terms of months, you will know resource requirements for the next number of years and can plan accordingly. You can also structure your delivery teams appropriately ahead of time, knowing you will be targeting public sector opportunities. I’ll leave the operational planning to you but public sector contracts give you more certainty in terms of operational requirements, allowing for more strategic planning.
Clearly these four aspects of public sector work are great for business, right? Yet, it seems that despite these clear advantages to winning public sector work, many SMEs are put off targeting these opportunities. This appears to be due to the process to win the work.
In a follow-on blog, I’m going to address some of the concerns I hear from SMEs regarding tendering for public sector opportunities.
I’d be delighted to help set you up to win public sector opportunities. If this is a sector you think is right for your business, get in touch directly with firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk through your aims and explore how I can help you get there.