BD tips and insights

Another 5 tender trends for the 2020s

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, JMA has observed some emerging tender trends that are becoming cemented as tender ‘realities’.

Another 5 tender trends for the 2020s

5 more tender trends for the 2020s

This blog on another 5 tender trends for the 2020s will ensure that your organisation is prepared.
As they say – forewarned is forearmed.

Government at all levels remains a desirable client

Tender trends show that government clients are extremely valuable in a downturn

Sweet as – public sector entities making attractive clients is one trend that has not gone any where.

Following the initial ‘shock’ of COVID-19’s arrival in 2020 governments at all levels have continued to approach the market for a variety of projects, services and goods.

In Australia the federal, state and territory plus local governments are pushing ahead with procurement activities – some long planned, and others emerging as urgent responses to current events.

Whether it is to stimulate the economy by forging ahead with infrastructure and other key public projects; to urgently procure COVID-19-related goods and services (think health advice or RATs); or more generally to get back to ‘business as usual’; in 2022 there have never been more opportunities in the public sector.

In 2020-21 Australian Government procurement hit a new ‘high’ awarding 84,054 goods and services contracts (up from 81,174 in the previous year) for goods and services with a combined value of $69.8 billion.

Interestingly in the last three years procurement of ‘services’ (comprising 63% of all contracts in 2020-21) has well and truly overtaken ‘goods’ contracts (comprising 37% for the same period).

You can learn more about contracts awarded, their value and the types of goods and services the Australian Government purchases here.

What can you do to be ready for this tender trend?

We have previously discussed that Australian government clients (at any level) can make for attractive clients.

If you’re not yet winning government clients you may need to be prepared to play the long game as you position for government client opportunities and tenders.

Understanding what it takes to win government tenders and then do business with government is a great first step.

Or if you’re working on winning a government tender check out JMA’s guide to win themes for government tenders.

Finding ‘government’ tender opportunities for your business is easier than ever with each level of government operating ‘tender portals’ or ‘e-tender’ websites. These are sites where you can sign up to receive notifications of newly released RFTs, research current awarded contracts and in some cases view advance notices of ‘planned procurement’ across different categories and for different departments and agencies.

In Australia the various government etender websites include the:

Local government in Australia tends to buy some products and services as a ‘group’ through their State or Territory’s Local Government arm or association. Some of the State and Territory local government procurement groups include in:

Otherwise consider registering and subscribing for tender notifications with individual local councils that you are interested in working with and potentially tendering to.

And for New Zealand Government (for both national and local opportunities) the key procurement and tender website is GETS – New Zealand Government Electronic Tenders Service.

Ongoing disruption to procurement plans and processes

Tender trends disrupted plans and processes

A tender trend that is here to stay (for now) are disrupted tender processes and plans

Disrupted procurement processes are increasingly common due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic.

As the pandemic enters year 3, between the stop-start restrictions, lockdowns, shadow lockdowns and new virus variants, ‘planned procurement’ has somewhat become an oxymoron.

We have seen procurement disruption playing out in a couple of ways through:

  • delayed or deferred approaches to market or calls for tenders (sometimes indefinitely) and through rolling over existing contracts to extend terms (which is great for incumbents)
  • processes being paused or suspended part way through or processes with incredibly long evaluation periods – occasionally leading to ‘no outcome’.

Either scenario has created cashflow issues and revenue forecasting hiccups for businesses and lumpy ‘all or nothing’ workflows for bid teams.

What can you do to be ready for this tender trend?

The best approach is controlling what you can which means looking internally.

If your bid team is in a tender ‘lull’ use the breathing space to review, refine and improve your bid processes along with a stocktake and update of your bid content library.

And if you’re an incumbent provider with a renewal on the horizon it goes without saying that you need to tightly manage that client relationship and keep up the flow of value added services and little extras. If there’s enough time consider conducting a relationship review or round of client satisfaction research.

Finally, if you’re well-networked with the tendering organisation you will hopefully have an ‘ear to the ground’ meaning those all-important ‘heads up’ communications are flowing so your team can remain reasonably reliably well-informed as to RFP release ‘timing’.

Increasing ‘outsourcing’ of ‘risk’ to external providers

Tender trends see an increase in insurance coverage

Tender trends are seeing bidders take on increased risk through greater insurance requirements

As the world has become less certain organisations seek certainty of outcomes and to shift ‘risk’ away from their business and bottom line and on to their external providers.

This trend can be seen in Australia with the Australian Government’s propensity to engage consultants to produce ‘independent’ reports and advice rather than relying on the public service.

In recent times this outsourcing has often been with mixed results.

More broadly we have seen this trend to ‘risk shift’ (rather than ‘share’ risk) manifest in bid requests requiring very high levels of insurance coverage. This seems to be especially prevalent for service contracts with high levels of professional indemnity cover required for relatively small services contracts.

A recent telling example was a university tender request for a routine annual service related to their tax affairs and asset management.

The value of the service was under $40,000, but the university (perhaps as a blanket procurement requirement) stated that $30 MILLION in professional indemnity insurance was a ‘mandatory’ condition of the contract.

To meet this requirement the boutique service provider would have needed to fund an additional $15,000 a year in insurance premiums to cover this one client’s single project.

In this instance, as the service provider was an incumbent of a decade’s standing they were able to request to vary the insurance requirements. It helped that they already had $20 million professional indemnity insurance in place and an impeccable service history with no claims notified to their insurer in over 25 years of business.

What can you do to be ready for this tender trend?

If your client base includes government or quasi-government entities (such as universities) speak with your insurance broker about options to potentially increase your level of cover. Check with your broker what the ‘standard’ cover now is for your sector and the relevant services, client base or projects so you can understand if you’re in (or out of step) with the sector trends.

As in the example above, depending on your sector, the specific client sectors you target and projects or services you deliver there may be some ‘room’ for negotiation as to reasonableness of the level of insurance cover ‘really’ required to protect the client’s interest.

However, if you’re involved in complex, high value projects and services for large entities be prepared that a ‘new’ cost of doing business may be to take out additional insurance and factor that into your pricing proposals.

Virtual tender shortlist interviews by Zoom, MS Teams, video…

Tender trends - Tender beauty parades and shortlisting interviews by video

You don’t want to come second in a tender shortlisting interview…

The ongoing nature of the pandemic has meant that that majority of business travel has collapsed, often even local same-city travel has been prohibited through snap lockdowns.

On the tender trends front this has meant most bid shortlisting interviews JMA has been involved with in the last 18 months have occurred by video.

Shortlisting interviews are a crucial part of the bidding process and acquitting yourself well can be what ultimately secures a ‘win’. After all, if an organisation has determined several bidders can ‘meet’ their requirements on paper, it may be your only opportunity to demonstrate all important ‘cultural-fit’ and ‘sell’ your solution.

While tender shortlisting interviews or beauty parades by video are not ideal (and there are many shortcomings with this format – it can still feel stilted and unnatural) it’s better than nothing and in many cases has been the only way your people can ‘meet’ the tendering organisation’s team.

What can you do to be ready for this tender trend?

While not literal ‘beauty parades’ if you’ve got an upcoming shortlist interview, negotiation or best and final offers (BAFO) round these tips will help:

Learn the technology. As this (! warning – somewhat sweary) video points out – ‘we’re (over) two years into a pandemic – how do you not know how to use Zoom yet?’

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the technology aspects – run a couple of internal Zoom or Teams meetings as the ‘host’ and get the hang of functions such as mute, screen sharing and chat until they are second nature.

And remember, even with practice during your ‘live’ shortlisting interview there will likely be some awkward pauses, overlapping talking and lag through poor connections. Just remember to wait a beat, then check it’s OK to continue by asking: ‘Did everyone catch that, OK, moving on to…’

Consider upgrading your ‘gear’ to a better laptop with a decent integrated webcam; or buy a newer webcam to add to your existing set up (look for minimum resolution spec of high definition 1080 p with a high framerate of 60 fps). Also buy yourself a decent headset with a microphone.

Headsets with microphones are best for acoustic privacy. If you’re presenting from home and the garbage truck visits your street or a dog is barking your audience will hopefully have no idea and can stay focussed on your pitch.

Practice makes perfect. Once you’re sure you won’t be distracted by the technology, just like an in-person presentation you’ll ‘perform’ better and feel far less nervous with at least one run through ahead of the live session. Better yet ‘record’ your run through so you can gauge how you’re coming across and any areas that require more preparation or rehearsal.

A handful of visual aids (such as a small number of image heavy PowerPoint slides with limited text) can help with feeling less ‘on display’. MS Teams has recently decreased the size of the presenter window so you’re less likely to be distracted by the sight of yourself on camera. But don’t go over overboard on animations or slabs of text. Less is MORE in these situations (which are likely to be time limited) and a more minimalist approach will ensure there’s less chance of any technical glitches.

Call in the experts. Have someone tech savvy on call (or if you’re back in the office nearby) to help smooth over any technical glitches. That could be an IT team member, or a colleague who is better versed in the technology should something go awry.

First impressions do matter in competitive selection processes. While new equipment may be a wise investment possibly more important is to do some research into suitable backgrounds (e.g. if you’re home based consider adding custom branded company backdrop), and look into any of the numerous online tutorials on simple lighting, make up, and the most flattering camera angles.

Group pitches. If there is a ‘group’ of you pitching, don’t crowd around a single laptop – this makes for terrible acoustics – if your office has access to a video conferencing facility make use of that, otherwise plan to present individually on separate laptops using headsets.

For video group pitches the usual rules apply – work out what everyone’s ‘role’ is and ensure they each take a turn to speak. It’s weird for too many mute observers to sit in on shortlist presentations.

Confirm who’ll be ‘hosting’ the meeting (whether it’s the tendering organisation, or if it’ll be on your Zoom or Teams account) and if you’re not familiar with the video conferencing app they’ll be using ask them to ‘drive’ the meeting which will help reduce nerves.

Videos as part of  tender submissions & onboarding processes

Tender trends show a steady increase in the use of videos as part of your submission

If you’re considering adding a video element to either your submission or post win – get professional advice

While we’re on the subject of videos, CISCO’s latest research indicates that:

‘Globally, internet video traffic will be 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2022, up from 73% in 2017’.

In the tender trends context videos have been a well-established part of the bidding landscape for high value infrastructure projects for many years. These high stakes bids have long lead times and videos are most commonly seen in the form of ‘fly throughs’ of concept designs or as ‘explainers’ for unique or alternative designs and sometimes as ‘executive summaries’.

This North Connex Motorway video is a good example.

Given most other tenders for routine services and goods have shorter (4 – 6 week) timetables there is often not the time or scope for most bidders to include videos as part of their submissions (nor is it necessarily allowed under the ‘conditions’ and formats of RFPs). So we’re we are some way off seeing videos as ‘mandatory’ tender requirements.

Another video tender trend we have observed in the last two years is for ‘introduction’ or ‘onboarding’ videos to be produced and shared with the tendering organisation post-win.

A state government recently entity asked its new panel providers to prepare a short video as a sort of ‘contact card’ for their end users comprising a mix of external and internal stakeholders:

“Following your successful tender to provide services… it would be great to capture some key information about your firm in an easily digestible format. The intention is to share the content with a broad group of stakeholders …. This will provide an ongoing reference point to anyone wishing to know more about your company.

A video with a duration of 2-3 minutes containing:

– A team introduction including capabilities

– Any value add services available or novel solutions…”

 What can you do to be ready for this tender trend?

While tender videos aren’t about to replace the written word in most bids, with a whopping 82% of all internet traffic being ‘video’ based in 2022, this is a trend that can no longer be ignored.

That aside, unless producing videos is part of your general ongoing BD and marketing strategy this may not be a priority investment area given there are so many other aspects to bidding to get ‘right’.

However, if your firm is well-organised 2022 might be the year to dip a toe in the water. The time to dip that toe of course is well in advance of any live bids dropping.

Like any piece of communication it is best to work out your tender video’s purpose, strategy, story and messages BEFORE you rush around engaging video producers and worrying about scripts and lighting.

Some low key ways to get started pre-bid might be to produce some of your own simple videos ‘in house’. For example, recording a client presentation or webinar to create a piece of reusable ‘on demand’ content you can share with other clients. Or consider ‘scripting’ and recording a short video for LinkedIn discussing a new development in your field or special offer.

Also, look at trying the low cost DIY video tools such as Camtasia (screen capture where you can add narration) or Canva (animated videos) to gain an understanding and appreciation of what’s involved in the medium.

Both of tools offer free trial versions, tutorials and templates – so it will cost you nothing to experiment apart from a little time. That way if you do want to use ‘video’ in a forthcoming tender you’ll be more familiar with what needs to go into video scripting and production giving you a better understanding of how to brief a professional to support your tender video.

And again, if you do want to include a video with your bid or as part of your client onboarding process – seek professional advice early in the life of the bid!

For more background on recent and emerging tender trends also see our 2020 blog on 5 more tender trends for the 2020s and JMA’s 14 Tender, bid and proposals trends that are here to stay.

And, if your business would like to factor these tender trends into your tender preparations, or assess your overall bid readiness, why not talk to us about how you can best prepare for these tender trends and get ready for more wins and more often.


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