With billions of dollars worth of government business up for grabs in the new year, now is the time to start preparing and getting tender-ready.
A wave of Government-funded projects will commence in 2021 to help businesses rebound from the pandemic.
These projects, in the billions of dollars, will lift crucial private business sectors out of an economic slump – including SMEs – but only if they know how to secure these projects successfully.
Risk management company, SAI Global, said projects up for grabs include $270 billion in defence. Examples in NSW include the Government’s investment of $273 million to establish NSW as a trading hub, $32 billion to transition the State to renewable energy and $100m to upgrade community sporting facilities.
South Australia is investing $60 million in energy-efficient buildings while the Queensland Government is investing $13.9 billion in infrastructure, plus billions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects.
SAI Global recommends that private-sector businesses prepare for tender pre-registration now, to secure lucrative opportunities in 2021 and beyond – and give their businesses a much-needed boost.
Kiran Bhagat, OHS and quality management systems expert at SAI Global, said applying for tenders the first time can be costly, time-consuming and complex, but it is worth the effort.
“Government clients pay on time, contracts can be lucrative, contract values can be large, and delivery times can be long term,” he said.
Bhagat said using the current quieter post-pandemic period to get tender-ready is a sensible idea, particularly for businesses that are new to the process.
“The first step is to understand how the government tender process works, meet government criteria and follow a successful pre-tender journey,” he said.
“This will also help businesses determine the resources they require: we recommend putting in place a small team dedicated to getting the business tender-ready. Businesses can work with an external consultant during the tender process, and SAI Global can continue to provide training and audits throughout the certification journey.”
In many cases, Bhagat said businesses won’t hear about tender opportunities unless they are a pre-qualified supplier, but pre-qualification is also an excellent opportunity to pull together the documents required for tender.
“For this reason, it is critical businesses have all relevant insurances – which will vary according to the industry and job size – industry certifications and accreditations up to date,” he said.
Many tenders require businesses to meet international quality assurance standards, and certify to them ahead of tendering will put businesses on the front foot.
Four of the most common international standards regularly required for a successful tender are occupational health and safety (ISO 45001), quality management (ISO 9001), environmental management systems (ISO 14001) and security information management systems (ISO 27001).
Non-IT-related tenders still often require suppliers to be security system certified to enable tenders to meet cybersecurity legislation.
Acquiring certification requires an audit and certification from an accredited certification body such as SAI Global – a process that can take around six months, depending on where the business is at in their journey.
Business certification for the major standards are normally updated every five years to determine if they are still relevant, and changes are made to ensure they reflect global best practice.
In addition to certifications, many tenders require evidence of particular workplace policies, such as HR, environmental, supply chain and cybersecurity.
Most tenders will require companies to submit client testimonials, referees, up-to-date financials to demonstrate they are trading solvent, and organisational charts. Having these complete and continually current will save time when a request to tender comes in.
“As tender processes can be complicated, we recommend businesses apply for those only when they are confident their company completely fits the criteria. If possible, provide more services than required,” Bhagat said.
Is there a value add the company can offer? For resource-poor SMEs, it may be worth hiring a professional tender writer to pull the tender submission together.
“They are skilled writers, are familiar with the process and with Government priorities, and can navigate the application as they understand some of the nuances,” he said.
By preparing for tender now, businesses will be ready to apply as soon as a request for tender is announced. “Tenders will be the Australian economic honey pot of 2021, with Governments spending strategically and generously to demonstrate their serious commitment to Australia’s recovery,” Bhagat said.
“A deliberate push by our Government towards public-private partnerships in this way is a sound solution to Australia’s current economic problem.”