Why SME's should be considering the public sector as their new customer

For most SME’s, their experience or impression of tendering for public sector work, is that it takes up too much time and money.

2015 however brings change to public sector procurement and with it great opportunity for SME’s to grow their business.

New public procurement rules introduced in February 2015, are aimed at cutting red tape and making it much simpler for SME’s to win work. 


The UK Government and wider public sector organisations want to work with SME’s. They recognise that SME’s offer greater flexibility and when successful, have a positive impact on the economy and employment figures.

25% of all government spending must go to small and medium size businesses.

This is equal to over £50bn.

So what are some of the key improvements on offer to SME’s?

  • Many public sector bodies including the Crown Commercial Service, are looking to allow suppliers to self-certify at initial tendering stages and only those who reach the final tender stage will be asked to provide evidence.
  • There is a greater emphasis on utilising a single procurement document and this is evident in the introduction of PAS 91 for the construction industry and SQuID for public sector work in Wales. A European single procurement document is also on the horizon.
  • There is no longer a requirement that your turnover must be 2 x the contract value.
  • All central government departments are now required to pay within 30 days and urge main contractors to adopt the same payment terms with their sub-contractors, when undertaking public sector work.

So how can SME’s break into the public sector market and grow their business?

John Kinge Exor’s Technical Director and Chairman of SSIP provides some advice:

Do your research, determine which areas within the public sector you want to sell to. Take a look at government tender sites such as Contractsfinder, Sell2Wales or Public Contracts Scotland.

Establish the types of work available within your sector and regions you are able to cover.

What size contracts are you looking to win?  Is it best to apply for those contracts direct or through a main contractor?

Get yourself pre-qualified and ready for work by utilising a pre-qualification service such as Exor. Not only does being pre-qualified save you time further down the line, removing the need to complete numerous questionnaires; it makes you available to buyers who are already using the service. Most importantly it demonstrates your compliance and gives confidence to buyer’s right from the start.

For some SME’s the thought of having to produce policies on subjects such as Equality and Diversity, may seem overwhelming. Utilise the expertise of organisations such as Exor, who offer guidance notes and templates.

Once you have decided on the work you would like to win and become pre-qualified; select the public sector bodies you would like to work for and make contact. Establishing relationships is key.

Put a face to your company and don’t just tender online. Remember buyers want to work with you and are therefore willing to speak to you and explain their requirements.

Gathering their needs upfront will allow you to produce a much better tender and improve your chances. 

Where ever you can network, there is plenty of opportunity with main contractors and local authorities running a number of events which are aimed at getting SME’s in front of buyers.

Would like to find out more about becoming pre-qualified?

Click here for more information, email us or call us today on 02920 029667.

Post date: 12 May 2015

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