How to tender for government contracts?

If you are looking to win work with councils, the NHS, emergency services or even schools, you will need to know how to tender for government contracts. We have a wide range of resources you can use to learn about the tendering process, and we can direct you to the most appropriate sources to develop your knowledge further.

To help you tender more effectively for work in the public sector, we can break the process down into three phases:

Flow chart


The preparation stage is making sure you have a full understanding of what to expect and how to plan your tenders.

Decide if there is a market for you

The government and wider public sector can offer lucrative opportunities to many businesses, and while we do encourage exploring this market – businesses can find that there is little to no demand for the services they offer. Do a thorough search of the market and discover what the demand is, we recommend using our free Category Search. Our database has every public sector contract detailed, and our unique category system helps connect you to tenders you are looking for.

Know what you are bidding for

Did you know there are different types of tenders and various tendering procedures used in public procurement? If you are unsure of what these are, you can find an explanation on this page.

Get familiar with the requirements

To bid for even the lowest value public sector contracts you will need to be able to demonstrate that you are a reliable company to do business with. It is worth considering the following questions:

  • Can you provide at least 3 months’ worth of bank statements? You could need these for low value tenders.
  • Can you provide 2-3 years’ worth of accounts? This could be a requirement for high value contracts.
  • Do you have demonstratable experience of working on similar projects?
  • Are there any industry relevant accreditations or qualifications that you might need?

You can see what buyers are asking for by looking at live tenders and contract award notices.

Do Go/No Go assessments

Never start writing a bid without first conducting a Go/No Go Assessment – a safeguard to prevent you getting halfway through a proposal, only to discover you are not suitable for the work. This exercise helps you get familiar with a contract, check it is suitable for your business, and is essential for winning government contracts.


For the creation of your tender documents, you will want to carefully consider what buyers are asking for, and what you need to include within your proposal.

Plan your bids

After conducting your Go/No Go Assessment, you will have an idea of the reasons why your company should bid for this contract. The planning stage helps you expand on these and schedule your workload for on time completion. Always create a bid plan, without it you can encounter many problems and end up creating a mediocre proposal.

Be realistic

One of the biggest mistakes bid writers make early on is not appreciating how much time is needed to prepare a bid. Carefully consider what your requirements are and only commit to the bid if you believe you have the resource to complete it to a high standard. If you discover that things are taking a lot longer than planned or that you are rushing, it is worth asking ‘is it worth it?’

Get clarification

If there is anything that you do not understand, it is always best to ask for clarification rather than guessing. All tenders will have details of what their clarification process is and it there to help suppliers know what they are being asked for, and ensure the buyer gets what they are looking for.

Proof before you submit

Always leave adequate time to proof your proposal. If you plan to complete well before the deadline, you give yourself time to check that you have fully addressed every requirement, your responses make sense, and that there are no errors. The additional benefit is you also create a safety buffer should deadlines run over.


Whether your bid has been successful or not, there is a lot you can take away that will improve your chances of success moving forward.

Ask for feedback

All public sector buyers are required to provide feedback – so take advantage of this!

No matter the outcome, , whether you are winning contracts or not, find out what the buyers thought about your bid. They might highlight strengths or weaknesses you were not aware of. Not asking for feedback could result in you continuing to make errors that are costing you work, or lead you to question the quality of strong proposals.

Learn from previous experiences

Make time to review your past tenders and identify if any mistakes were made or problems encountered. Were they unavoidable or can you learn from the experience, and factor them into your tendering processes? Make sure to also consider positive experience and make note of what worked well and should be replicated moving forward.

We want you to succeed

There is a lot to consider when bidding for public sector contracts, and for many it can be a totally unfamiliar experience.

Hopefully the information on this page has been useful, but if you need further information about how to tender for government contracts, we would be happy to help.

We have our own training and consultancy team who support our customers to achieve their goals. They also coordinate our own bids, and are responsible for us winning major government contracts – such as those to develop and host Sell2Wales and Public Contracts Scotland.

If you would like to develop your skills further, or need support with bidding for a contract, there are few ways that we can help you.