Did you know a large number of government tenders are released during November and December? Here are some strategies to survive the tendering silly season.
It’s the pointy end of the year and we’re all looking forward to things slowing down over the summer – right? November and particularly December are always a mad scramble to get everything done, finished, crossed off, so we can relax in January. It’s not called the silly season for nothing.
Well, guess what? November and December also happen to be the months when a large number of government tenders are released, with due dates and evaluation sometime in January.
There are a couple of reasons for government tender season. Firstly, just as the commercial sector sees “Christmas” as an arbitrary end-point, by which time programs must be completed or significant parcels of work delivered, so too does government. And, let’s face it, for a government procurement officer, getting a tender out the door is a significant piece of work.
Government’s budget cycle is also a factor. While government budgets are set from May to May each year, there is a mid-year review that starts in November and finishes in December. This gives agencies an opportunity to ask for additional budget, and they are more likely to get this money if they have delivered against existing budget outcomes.
And so we tend to see a high level of government procurement activity in November and December, with a large number of tenders released, ready for evaluation in mid to late January.
Government tender season: Forewarned is forearmed
The good news is that you are now forewarned and can get yourself forearmed in time to negotiate government tender season and save your summer holiday.
One thing in your favour is that government procurement officers often build in a couple of extra weeks of response time at this time of the year, as they are aware that responding to tenders during November-December can be a challenge to businesses.
This is due to government policies that stipulate any market approach must be designed around fair and equitable treatment of suppliers in a way that will generate maximum participation (and hence the best outcome for government) – including providing sufficient time for potential suppliers to prepare an appropriate submission.
But the additional time is not guaranteed (even though it was once standard practice). Besides, two weeks doesn’t always go very far during the silly season. There are, however, other things you can do to get organised and prepare ahead of time.
Use forward procurement plans to predict what tenders might be released:
Our state and federal governments publish their 12 month forward procurement plans online for at least those departments and agencies that are budget funded. Review these and follow up every procurement of interest that has a proposed release of Q4 in a calendar year. Try to get detail on or predict the proposed dates for market approaches (for example quote or tender), procurement releases and tender deadlines.
Communicate with your government contacts to find out what’s coming up:
If you have a government engagement strategy and implement it effectively, you will have developed good relationships with key government personnel within the agencies and departments that are of interest to your business. Talk to these contacts now to discover whether any relevant procurements are to be released during November and December, and find out the timelines and method.
If you don’t have established relationships with key contacts within government, then this should highlight one reason why it’s a good idea to build them using a well thought out government engagement strategy. Be active not passive in your engagement with government to build a sustainable government practice. For further information, see our posts:
- A government engagement strategy is a pre-sales tool
- Update your 2017 government engagement strategy by looking to last year
Investigate when existing contracts are due for retendering:
Government publishes a lot of information on existing contracts and when their terms are coming to a close. You can investigate the expiry and likely retender dates of contracts you are interested in via government contract websites – such as Austender (federal) and the contracts section of tenders.vic.gov.au (Victorian Government). Also see our post on How to become an incumbent supplier to government.
Get your documentation ready:
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of getting your own house in order. Update your capability statements with references, case studies, and enhancements to your methodology and customer service. Confirm requirements that are often mandatory such as work health safety and quality management.
The more prepared you can be, for what will almost certainly be a busy tender season, the better!
Get prepared by attending our Government Bid Writing workshop on 15 November!