If your firm has decided to pursue public sector clients as part of your business development strategy, you’ll need to understand and address some common concerns in order to win government tenders.
All levels of government (Commonwealth, state, and local) have overriding interests and concerns about appointment of their external professional advisors and service providers, beyond ensuring providers have relevant technical qualifications and experience.
Here are five things to keep top of mind when writing your next winning tender to government.
1. Probity of process
Get the relationship off on the right foot by respecting the probity of the appointment process. It will underline your integrity, uprightness and honesty.
Government can’t afford to do business with professionals who may reflect poorly upon them or cause them reputational or political problems.
Hint: the time to start forging those relationships is not during the RFT or RFP process.
The Commonwealth Government has a handy guide available.
Credentials which meet impartial tests or challenges and are objectively verifiable are the foundation of your case for appointment. Providing evidence, rather than making assertions, is the way to win.
This is more important than ever with increasing scrutiny into procurement processes.
A 2012 Senate Inquiry into Procurement procedures for Defence capital found there was “little understanding or appreciation of the importance of contestability and a mindset that simply cannot, or refuses to, comprehend the meaning of “independent advice”.
Government is sensitive to blow back, so make sure your tender stacks up by objective measures.
3. Conflict management
Dealing with conflict in ways that protect government from reputational and commercial damage is essential. Government recognises that conflicts will happen – it isn’t whether there may be conflict, but rather the robustness of your processes to recognise, flag, avoid, and manage conflict that government is interested in.
Rigorous processes around conflict management make it safe for the public sector to do business with your firm.
4. Confidentiality and data security
Confidentiality and data security matter – provide comfort and remove risk for government on this, supported by processes or systems that support your good intentions and promises. So get that data security policy updated, and make your network secure.
And, no, just because you’re a law firm or other professional services firm it doesn’t go without saying that you have best practice processes in place. You must provide proof of your claims.
5. Transparency and accountability
Transparency and accountability is the mantra of modern public sector management.
These are underlying themes in selecting right-fit professional advisers. Your professional and business behaviour, how you propose to manage the relationship, and how you’ll handle inevitable glitches must be characterised by accepting accountability for your performance in an environment of open, frank, and clear communication.
So, if you have the technical solution or professional skills to service government, and have invested in the technology and work processes to perform to high standards, check that you also address the five factors above.
If you can keep these five fundamentals in mind when writing to win government tenders, you’ll be well on the way to establishing and maintaining happy and productive relationships with government clients.
We can help, please get in touch.
Tender readability remains a problem for some in the 21st century. I still see submission documents that cling to a handful of really old hat tender presentation and formatting techniques. I suspect this is because some of these ‘rules’ are viewed as being more appropriate to a ‘formal’ style of document such as a tender. […]