Low-value public sector tenders are great for your business and in this post, we cover what low-value tenders are, their benefits to you, and the challenges you are likely to encounter going after them.

What are low-value tenders?

Low-value tenders are notices which fall below UK public procurement thresholds. They have fewer restrictions than high-value (above threshold) tenders, and it is this lack of ‘red tape’ that makes them perfect for SMEs and companies who have limited to no experience working with the public sector.

Benefits of low-value tenders

  1. Larger Multi-National Companies (MNCs) are unlikely to bid for Low-value contracts due to their size and scope. This leaves the door open for more SMEs to bid for the work.
  2. There is less competition for low-value contracts because most are published on decentralised portals (see below). Less competition means you have a greater chance of securing the work.
  3. These contracts are easier to bid for. The contract documents are short, they require much less supporting information than high-value contracts, and most of the contracts you find use Open (single-stage) procedures – meaning fewer hoops to jump through.
  4. Going for Low-value tenders provides you with more new business opportunities. Low-value notices make up more than 70% of the market, meaning there is plenty of work to be won. Contract terms are also much shorter than high-value contracts, so suppliers that miss out the first time round won’t have too long to wait until they can re-bid.
  5. Like all contracts published by the public sector, these notices benefit from transparent contracting processes, favourable treatment of SMEs, and 30-day payment periods.
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Why are low-value tenders difficult to find?

Low-value tenders should be published on Contracts Finder, but the rules are much more relaxed than those for high-value opportunities, and this requirement is not enforced. Because of this, there are over 900 different portals buyers can use to publish their notices.

Many portals come with many issues:

  • Jumping from portal to portal – Think of how much time you could spend navigating to multiple portals to conduct searches, and how often you would have to do this to not miss relevant opportunities.
  • Modifying your search criteria – Did you know that each portal is built differently, meaning you need to use different search criteria for each one you visit? Some include CPVs, others just use keywords, and some might only have a title with no other information.
  • Out-of-context results – some systems generate results using keywords from anywhere within a tender. For example, if there is background information about the buyer or other projects they have been involved in, the words in these descriptions might get picked up – presenting you with irrelevant results.
  • Generic CPV codes – There is supposed to be a Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) code for every product or service, but as there is such a wide range (many of which are outdated), buyers tend to opt for more generic codes. This means more irrelevant search results for you to filter through.
  • Wrong or missing CPV codes – With so many codes to choose from, sometimes the wrong ones get selected, meaning unless you enter specific search criteria – they won’t appear in your results. Many notices also get published without codes, making them nearly impossible to find.

While this does sound messy, the title of this article is an honest one. Low-value tenders are great for your business, but if you want full access to the market, and to ensure you never miss an opportunity, you’ll need some help.

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