Guest post by Claire Mason on the TenderCon event held on October 10th, 2017 in Dublin.
Only 10% of Irish SMEs compete for tenders, but the public procurement budget in Ireland is worth €9 billion per annum.
That’s a significant amount of small and medium sized businesses not competing for the largest sales pipeline in the country.
To rectify this state of affairs, TenderScout, an Irish-based SaaS solution that helps SMEs win tenders, hosted TenderCon to demystify public contracts.
“We work with SMEs in Ireland, Britain and the USA, and across all three regions only a very small cohort of SMEs compete for tenders. One of the main reasons for this poor rate of participation is the confusion surrounding what tendering actually involves. We created TenderCon to help dispel some of the myths around tenders and empower SMEs, so that they understand that they can win government contracts,” says Tony Corrigan, founder and CEO of TenderScout.
— TenderScout (@tenderscout) October 11, 2017
Tenders are a growth hack
The event was opened by Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen, who urged SMEs to see tenders for the business opportunity they represented.
This theme was explored throughout the rest of the half-day event as two panels, made up of SMEs who have successfully competed for tenders in the past, took to the stage. Brian Purcell of The Apprentice and Ready Business podcast moderated.
The first panel asked what does a winning tender strategy look like? Answering that question was:
- Lisa Lanigan of the Irish Management Institute
- Vaunnie McDermott of Strategem
- Nigel Heneghan of Heneghan PR
- Peter Curran of Eversheds Sutherland Ireland
All four panelists shared their own tender success stories (and mishaps) explaining how winning tenders rests on a business transformation strategy being put in place. SMEs need to establish empathy with the buyer by demonstrating a thorough understanding of why the tender is being held.
An ad hoc approach to tenders never results in a win.
Busting tender myths
The tender process suffers from an image problem.
Though no one would argue that tenders are easy, they’re also not as complex, obscure and bureaucratic as they are thought to be.
The second panel, this time with representation from Enterprise Ireland and the Office of Public Procurement, set about busting the myths that prevent SMEs from competing for tenders.
Setting the record straight was:
- Tonia Spollen of Enterprise Ireland
- Ross McCarthy of KeyStone Procurement
- Ronan Crummy of the Office of Government Procurement
- Peter Curran of Eversheds Sutherland Ireland who sat on the second panel too to add a legal insight
Facts that emerged from this panel were surprising, such as one in four tenders attracting only one proposal and one in ten attracting no proposal at all. The competition for government contracts is far from intense!
The many resources available to SMEs to help them compete successfully for tenders were also discussed by the panelists, including the “meet the buyer” events that are regularly held by Enterprise Ireland.
Win one tender, win them all
SMEs who want to win tenders need to dedicate time to engaging properly with the process. The effort will pay off.
Tony Corrigan closed off the event, held at DogPatch Labs in the CHQ Building. He urged the SMEs in attendance to set up a process if they wanted to win tenders, and shared how TenderScout’s clients enjoy win rates, on average, of 70% or more once they approach tenders in a systematic, process-driven way.
“Tenders are run the same way each and every time. Once you have competed successfully for one tender, you can repeat the process and win more tenders. We have a client who won two tenders within weeks of each other in Q2,” said Tony.
Another TenderCon event will be held in February 2018. If you would like to be added to the guest list, please email [email protected]