Bid specialist launches digital platform to help SMEs with public tenders

David Gray

AM Bid has announced the creation of its first digital platform designed to help SMEs ‘rebound’ from pandemic-related challenges.

The bid specialists have spent a year working on the Ultimate Tender Coach, described as an online modular training programme that ‘unlocks the secrets’ of successful public tender writing and development.

The programme outlines how the public procurement process works and provides SMEs with insights to help them develop tender responses to secure more business.

It is aimed at businesses bidding for public contracts and not winning them, or not winning enough of them, or those that want to bid for them but don’t understand the process or what it takes to develop a winning tender.

AM Bid founder and business development director Andrew Morrison, MD David Gray, and bid development director Philip Thomson, have combined their 40+years public sector bidding experience on the project.

The company, which launched in 2014 and operates in more than 25 sectors, has achieved an independently audited bid success rate of more than 80%. The firm added that it created the platform in response to findings of a report it commissioned into the challenges faced by businesses when it comes to bidding successfully in the public sector.

The research, detailed in the report Navigating the Public Procurement Minefield, revealed over 90% of UK SMEs surveyed think the public sector should be more accommodating and do more to remove the tendering barriers in public sector contracts.

David Gray explained, “This reflects our initial research which showed the vast majority of SMEs find the public procurement process challenging, so we created Ultimate Tender Coach to help them. We’ve crammed over 40 years of successful public tender winning experience into a digital learning programme that will help them win contracts they’re very capable of delivering.

“During the pandemic, it was clear that businesses developed an increased appetite for digital learning but the challenge most SMEs have is finding the time for it. In response, we’ve created a flexible learning programme that people can work through at their own pace, fitting their learning around the demands of running their business. We’re also offering weekly coaching calls and a private members group, to build a community of SMEs committed to winning more public contracts.”

Among the barriers cited by SMEs were the complexity of the procurement process (44%) and the lack of publicity for opportunities (41%). Over a third of respondents said they were dissuaded either by finding the process too time consuming (37%), difficulty meeting mandatory qualifying criteria (35%), or by finding the process too costly based on being unsuccessful in the past (34%). 20% were concerned the incumbent supplier would simply be reappointed.

Mr Gray added, “SMEs have given government a clear signal that they want to be involved in tendering and winning work from the public sector but also that they want the barriers removed. They want government to do more.

“The perception that public contracts are a closed shop can be a deterrent to businesses. They want to bid for contracts and are prepared to do so but there are so many perceived barriers in their way; some throw the towel in even before they start. Government must use the opportunity of its procurement reforms to level the playing field for small businesses to help build a fairer procurement landscape where businesses of all sizes have equal opportunities and stand a greater prospect of winning lucrative and bankable contracts.

“The Ultimate Tender Coach will give those SMEs the training and guidance they need to develop compelling bids and win more  public contracts.”