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Home » Awareness » Getting Business » Collaborative Tendering: Part 3

Collaborative Tendering: Part 3

The Customer perspective


If you are an SME focusing on public sector tenders, something which should feature highly in any consideration on whether to consider collaborative tendering is the customer perspective on smaller businesses tendering, particularly the perspective of the procurement teams which all the big public sector organisations will have running the tender process. It might be thought for example that they will have concerns about:- 

  • Confidence in the prospective successful bidder to perform
  • Security of supply of the goods or services being procured
  • The reputation of the tendering organization

 In summary, it is likely that public sector customers will be basically highly risk averse. It is much less risky for them to go with larger companies they would have more confidence in, less risk of them failing and consequently the customer suffering reputation damage. 

Then there are the practical considerations. With all the pressures on the public sector resources these days there are bound to be concerns over:- 

  • Economy  of effort; not having to deal with a plethora of small companies
  • One point of contact; no time wasted in working out who to contact for particular issues
  • Responsibility; a clear focus of responsibility for performance  

In essence these are management issues. The customer will be looking to the management of the contract which flows from the tender – they will not want to have any extra administration caused by giving the job to a grouping of different small companies. They will want to have one point of contact and a clear line of responsibility if things go wrong. 

If one accepts the above analysis, as a SME or as a group of SME’s collaborating to win a tender, how do you tackle these customer concerns? The simple answer it is suggested is above all, to act like a single big company. A big company would have clear structure and reporting lines and clear legal & contractual responsibility.  There would be no doubt about who is going to be doing what on contract award, no doubt about who is going to do what in the course of putting the tender together, who will lead negotiations with the customer etc – at the end of the day it is all the big company. But for the group of smaller companies coming together to collaborate, perhaps for the first time, it is not so straightforward. There is a lot to think about, a lot to agree in the informal discussions which would take place, which will carry forward to contractual arrangements if the bid is successful. 

How to tackle this? Subsequent articles will look at how SME’s can come to replicate – to look and act like - a big company from a tendering angle, focusing on the use of a Teaming Agreement.




Nothing in this awareness article is intended as legal advice. If you have a specific legal requirement or query you should consult a solicitor directly.