Tenders Direct is the UK’s leading provider of public sector tender alerts and bid support services, and in November 2023 we marked 30 years of service.

I am Senior Product Manager for Tenders Direct and have been with the company for over 11 years. In this post I look back on our company’s heritage and how it has shaped the evolution of our services.

Physical Journals, Postal Alerts and Fax Messages

Tenders Direct was founded with a simple goal – to provide reliable and relevant tender information to organisations wanting to grow their business with the public sector.

In 1993, few businesses were aware of the vast number and variety of contracts advertised in the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union). With a team of two and a European Union license to access and distribute OJEU notices, Tenders Direct was born.

At the time, our tender alerts involved reading a physical journal and notifying customers of suitable opportunities by post and fax. This process of manually reading tenders, however, is still the core of our tender alerts, and is why we are the most accurate service in the UK.

Our First Website, Low-Value Tenders, and a Changing Market

In 2000, Tenders Direct entered the digital age and launched our first website. This development reduced our reliance on physical alerts, but we still had customers requesting fax alerts for several years after we went digital.

Developing our first website propelled the company forward, allowing us to win contracts to develop and manage public procurement portals for Ireland, Norway, Scotland and Wales. We also expanded our services to include bid writing consultancy services, as well as offering alerts for low-value tenders in the UK and Ireland.

The biggest drivers for innovating our Tenders Direct products are changing procurement regulations and customer feedback. There were times when we had to adapt quickly to changes in the market, and respond to feedback from our customers, pushing us to innovate and exceed expectations. One of the most significant changes was the introduction of the 2014 Public Procurement Directive/2015 Public Contract Regulations, which brought about new notice types and formats that required Tenders Direct to update its system accordingly.

Proactis, Digital Revolution and Expansion

In 2016, we joined forces with Proactis which introduced new skills and resources, allowing Tenders Direct to develop a wider range of services. Opportunity Manager, Competitor Tracker and Advance Tender Alerts were all made possible thanks to Proactis. We also saw our team grow to around 50 people – tender reviewers, sales executives, developers, consultants and more, all working to help people find and win work with the public sector.

In the 30 years we have been operating, we have seen other tender alert services come and go. Our understanding of the market, dedication to accurate alerts, and our embrace of innovation have helped our business stand the test of time.