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Mastering the Art of Winning Public Tenders: Essential Strategies and Insider Tips

Looking to win a public tender? XPinnovates are an authorised mentor for the InterTradeIreland Go-2-Tender programme. The excellent and highly regarded  Go-2-Tender programme assists your business to learn how to design and submit high-quality tender responses. With practical workshops and 1-to-1 mentoring, they give you the knowledge and confidence to manage a tender.

The all-island Ireland public procurement market is worth in the region £10bn/€12bn. This represents an untapped market for many small firms to increase their revenues and attain business contracts. The lack of know-how about how to access the required information and how to put together a winning bid is a major drawback for many firms.

What services/products are awarded under public tender?

All products and services are tendered across all public bodies in Northern Ireland. The following table outlines the broad procurement approach for bodies across the region.

Contract Value Procurement Process
> £3000 No formal competition
£3,000 to £8,000 Formal competition with quotations from a selected number of suppliers (min 3). Not publicly advertised.
£8,000 to £30,000 Formal competition with quotations from a selected number of suppliers (min 4). Not publicly advertised.
> £30,000 Tender: competitive procurement procedure. The tender is advertised for public view.

How do you find public tender opportunities?

For all procurement above ~£30k contract value, the best place to find details of upcoming tenders can be found on the following websites are key;

Northern Ireland     – eTendersNI & eSourcing NI
Ireland                           –
Scotland                       – Public Contracts Scotland
Wales                             – Sell 2 Wales
England                         – Contracts Finder

Register as a supplier on these platforms to receive alerts of upcoming tender opportunities in your relevant sector and you can receive updates.

If you are interested in looking outside of Ireland, you can view live opportunities at the following links.

What are some of the common mistakes SMEs make when they approach public tenders?

  • They apply to too many tenders with a scatter gun approach – and frequently are repeatedly unsuccessful. Then give up on tendering all together.
  • Apply to tenders with little qualification or clear understanding of the tender specifications
  • Do not learn from unsuccessful bids and identify areas where/how they need to improve.
  • Too often regard the design and construction of bids are down to one person in the firm, when often, the task of submitting a winning tender will be a team effort.
  • They confuse ‘the selling task’, with the task of ‘winning a public tender’. The best salespeople do not necessarily make great tender writers.
  • They do not understand that tenders are highly competitive, and your bid is not assessed on your sales pitch, website or products – it’s assessed on the documents and information you submit, and is ranked against the competition on a scoring basis.

Where can I get help to win tenders?

If you operate in Ireland or Northern Ireland, take a look at the Go-2-Tender programme which is a great first step for SMEs entering the public procurement market.

If you have an immediate tender you are planning to submit a tender response to, you can also contact us. We can see how we could support you and signpost you to the right resources.

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