Win new business from the public sector with Tenders Direct

Public sector tendering opportunities are a valuable way to secure new business, with hundreds of local contracts published every week in every sector, from healthcare and IT to construction and transport.

Many local authorities, NHS trusts and government departments now handle procurement electronically to save money and time as well as ensuring compliance with the latest regulations.

It is therefore vital for businesses to ensure they do not miss out on any potential opportunities in their own local area, throughout the UK or mainland Europe, according to Tim Williams, managing director of electronic tendering specialist Millstream, which runs Tenders Direct and myTenders.

These websites allow public sector organisations – ranging from local and central government, NHS trusts and housing associations to the emergency services and armed forces – to publish tenders, while private sector companies can bid for new business.

More than 4,000 clients, from sole traders to SMEs to multinationals, use Tenders Direct to ensure that they receive regular bespoke alerts on tender opportunities, specifically tailored to their individual preferences. These include low value tenders, which offer particularly lucrative opportunities for SMEs.

“The days of the printed version of the Official Journal of European Union are long gone and there is no effective way to keep track of all the opportunities without using an online system, particularly in today’s fast-paced world of business,” said Tim, whose company also operates the national procurement portals for Scotland, Wales and Norway.

“Procurement processes will all be conducted entirely online in the near future and the Government’s target is for procurement to be completely electronic by 2016, so it’s vital that companies make sure they don’t miss anything.

“We aim to make it as easy as possible for purchasers in the public sector to advertise their tenders and to help small and medium sized companies to identify new business opportunities and crucially, to give them the best chance of winning that work.”

Tenders Direct was established by Tim in 1992, to make it easy for subscribers to find information on public contracts.

Unlike other tender alert services on the market, Millstream does not use the European Commission codes as they are notoriously ineffective at identifying business opportunities.

Instead it has created its own system, which very closely reflects the range of products and services purchased by the public sector. Millstream’s staff read and manually categorise every contract notice to ensure that .their customers get all of the relevant opportunities without the distraction of irrelevant information.

Tenders Direct also has a dedicated tender sourcing team which is responsible for finding contracts which aren’t published in the Official Journal of the European Union - those with a value generally less than £100,000.

“Smaller contracts, with a value of less than £100,000, tend to be of particular interest to more local companies as they have a realistic chance of winning these,” said Tim. “The entry requirements and level of competition are much lower and councils prefer to award contracts to suppliers in their area if at all possible.

“Therefore our advice is that it may be better to go for smaller ones to start with, and look at who has previously awarded contracts, who won it and why, the value and duration of the contract. Pick your best prospects and focus on the ones you think you have the best chance of securing, while balancing it with existing work.”

Tenders Direct users can also opt to receive Contract Award Notices which give details of the companies which are winning contracts. Businesses can then use this information as a market monitoring tool and also to identify possible sub-contracting opportunities.

Millstream also has a training and consultancy team which provides public sector procurement training to both suppliers and purchasers.

Training is provided either by way of scheduled training courses or through tailored in-house courses.

The trainers are business development experts and public sector procurement professionals who have an extensive knowledge of the entire procurement process and are ideally placed to navigate clients through the often complex tendering process.

Tim added: “Our target is to ensure that if a tender is published anywhere, then we will have that information available for our subscribers, so that they don’t have to worry about missing any opportunities, and we can help then to understand and successfully complete the process from start to finish.”

For more information, call 01224 636999 or visit