One of the free sources you can use for finding public-sector tender opportunities is Contracts Finder. This website lists contracts that are worth £10,000 or more. Contracts Finder is generally used to advertise lower value contracts; however, public sector procurement teams are encouraged to publish the higher value contracts on both Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) and Contracts Finder to provide better exposure, so you may find some contracts are duplicated across both sites.
You can use Contracts Finder to see:
- Current tender opportunities
- Expired contracts
- Future contracts that are available for application at a specified date.
The best part of Contracts Finder is that you do not need to create any accounts to gain access and can search the website for tenders that suit your business. It also allows you to see whether the contract is suitable for SMEs or not. This is extremely helpful for small and medium-sized businesses looking for relevant opportunities to grow their business.
The bad thing about Contracts Finder (from my personal experience of using it), is you need to have the exact search boundaries identified before entering your search terms, otherwise you risk spending hours sifting through notices that are not relevant to your business.
The first time I used Contracts Finder to look for tenders, I also found that I was misled by the instructions. Basically, each tender will list a section called ‘About the Buyer’, which will include contact details (name, address, telephone and email) of the person responsible for procuring the service. Then there will be an ‘Other information’ section, which provides either a presentation/information pack regarding the tender or a link directly to the portal, where you need to register and express your interest in bidding. The last section is ‘How to Apply’, which simply states that you should contact the buyer directly.
My advice is to focus solely on the ‘Other Information’ section. It’s really the starting point to find out more information about your opportunity, regardless of whether it is categorised as an:
- Future opportunity; or
- Early engagement.
The part that may confuse you is when you read the ‘How to Apply’ section, which dictates you should apply by directly contacting the buyer. This is not the case. The diagram below demonstrates this point.
We hope that helps you find a tender to grow your business, but if you want some extra help, please feel free to contact us for some help.
You never know, you could be missing out on the perfect opportunity simply because you didn’t succeed in your search the first time around.