Courses on offer at Millstream to help you win public sector contracts

With hundreds of local contracts published every week, the public sector is a rich source of new business opportunities for UK companies, with contracts ranging from major construction and infrastructure projects to cleaning, catering and maintenance.

But the key to securing public sector tenders lies in knowing where to find the right information and being able to successfully complete the documentation, according to electronic tendering specialist Millstream.

Gemma Waring, head of learning and consultancy at Millstream, regularly runs PQQ and bid writing courses for private sector suppliers, held across the UK.

She said: “Organisations are increasingly handling procurement electronically in order to save money and time and to comply with the latest legislation so there are literally thousands of opportunities out there.

“It can be a complicated but lucrative process, with local authorities, housing associations, NHS trusts, the government and the armed forces all advertising opportunities every week.”

Lower value tenders, generally less than around £100,000, can be particularly worthwhile for smaller companies to gain a foothold in the lucrative public sector market.

“UK regulations require contracting authorities to adhere to transparent, non-discriminatory and proportional principles when purchasing goods and services,” said Gemma, a qualified trainer with more than seven years experience in bidding for public sector tenders.

“They must also advertise all contracts above threshold values in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), which is set at £112,000 for all supplies and services and £4.3 million for large-scale construction tenders.

“However, it’s the lower value tenders, those under the OJEU thresholds, that are particularly attractive to smaller companies. They are not always easy to find, but there’s less competition and so a greater chance of success.

“We monitor hundreds of websites to source lower value tenders from across the public sector.”

Once you have found a potential opportunity, Gemma’s advice is to be selective when deciding which ones to bid for.

“When deciding whether or not to bid, pick your best prospects and focus on the ones you think you have the best chance of securing, while balancing it with existing work. It may be better to go for smaller contracts to start with, taking into consideration the value and duration of the contract.

“Build a relationship with potential clients – bear in mind that your competitors may already be working with them and if you’re not, you are starting at a disadvantage. Identify existing problems and offer a solution and ensure you can demonstrate that your business will be a reliable supplier if you are awarded the contract.”

Information should be easy to read, clearly indexed and should state what you can offer, when you will do it and what the cost will be.

Gemma added: “The easier you can make it for the procurement officer to find the information they are looking for in your bid documents, the greater your chance of making it through to the next stage.

“Millstream’s Learning and Consultancy team’s aim is to ensure that all our customers, either training delegates or users of our consultancy services, enhance their ability to tender successfully. Our team is made up of qualified trainers and current heads of procurement – all experts in their field who bring real practical experience and value to our services.”

As the only company providing national public procurement websites for several European member states, Millstream currently operates the Public Contracts Scotland portal on behalf of the Scottish Government, as well as Sell2Wales for the Welsh Government.

Millstream runs the Tenders Direct service, which provides private companies with specific and manually categorised alerts, sent daily by email, on new business opportunities from the public sector.

It also runs myTenders, a tender publication and management service used by more than 700 public organisations in the UK to submit fully compliant contract notices to the OJEU and Contracts Finder, as well as publicising them on the organisation’s own website.

As well as training, Millstream can review and analyse previous tender written documents, help companies to answer PQQ or tender questions, compile supporting documents and policies, write a tender or PQQ and manage the entire tender process through to submission.

Courses are being held in February, March and April in London, Leeds and Manchester. Topics include writing a compelling bid; advanced tender writing skills; striking PQQs; and developing a bid strategy. For more information, visit, call 0844 561 0675 or email