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How to win tenders: seizing post-pandemic opportunities

By CCIWA Editor

With $5.5 billion in economic stimulus committed by the WA Government, including a raft of spending on major projects, there are new opportunities for local businesses with the resources to deliver work.

So how can you seize the opportunity, win tenders, and set your business up for future success?

COVID-19 recovery 

Co-Founder of tender consultancy BidWrite David Lunn explains, “there is a lot of stimulus around” and in WA, jobs are a big issue.  

“There is a lot of money being pumped into this economy(and)…there is funding being brought forward in response in part to COVID-19 recovery activities,” he said. 

“Stimulus measures are great, but we know they are not going to last forever.” 

Lunn says there are three key issues to consider when applying for government contracts: trust, compliance and being qualified for a task

BidWrite co-founder David Lunn.
Trust
Methods of building trust have changed markedly since before COVID, particularly if face-to-face interactions are limited.  

Lunn says tender proposals need to be more detailed than in the past, as contractors don’t not receive the same level of forgiveness for gaps of information without personal rapport with project developers. 

“More than ever, the proposal is having to take the heavy lifting that business development used to be able to deal with,” he said.  

I think we are going to see a bit of a shift in how business development works and the traditional paradigms of relationship building are getting tested.

“I think you’d be a brave person to assume that your traditional way of winning relationship building and work is going to be the same going forward.”  

The introduction of online video conferencing to replace face-to-face meetings would be a big part of that shift, he says.

Compliance
Lunn says the pandemic has heightened the need for businesses to be extra vigilant about whether their proposals tick all the boxes.  

With limited face-to-face interaction and with an accelerated pace of procurement, the chance for businesses to explain their credentials in person is diminished, he explains.

They (government) hit market early with invitation document - you've got to respond,” he added.  

They are stepping away from the traditional first-past shortlisting and then interview process - they might push straight through to award, so you might not even get a chance to actually get in front of them to talk.”

He added that the emphasis on value was as strong as ever and “most businesses were looking for cheapest or near cheapest, as long as basic compliance requirements were met”.

For more on meeting health and safety requirements during the tendering process, click here.

Qualification
When considering applying for a tender, it is crucial to ask whether a project would be the right fit for your business. Lunn recommended four qualifying questions:

  1. Is it real?
  2. Do we want it?
  3. Can we win it?
  4. Can we do it?

In other words, you should think carefully about whether the procurement process is worth it 

“Stimulus does not necessarily equal largess – just because there’s a lot of money around it doesn’t mean you are right for it,” Lunn says.

“We would always challenge anybody who is bidding in any context to ask yourself these sort of questions before you invest in an opportunity, especially as now you might need to put more work into the proposal.”

Lessons from the past

WA Department of Finance Executive Director of Strategy and Coordination Shaun Whitmarsh gave an overview of the funding environment at the recent WA Works conference.

He said the last time we saw such high levels of stimulus from the government was in the fallout of the global financial crisis in 2009.  

These measures came to an end in 2013, when the Small Business Development Corporation conducted an investigation into the non-payment of subcontractors 

“There were some really significant improvements that came about as part of that (including) the introduction of project bank accounts to improve the security of payments to subcontractors and increased financial due diligence around checking the finances of contractors,” he explains 

“There are really important lessons that we can learn from what happened back in 2013 (and) as we move into this next period of stimulus it’s important to keep that in the front of our minds.”

Shaun Whitmarsh speaks at the WA Works Conference, October 29, 2020.

With $5.5 billion in economic stimulus committed by the WA Government, including a raft of spending on major projects, there are new opportunities for local businesses with the resources to deliver work. So how can you seize the opportunity, win tenders, and set your business up for future success?
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