Does anyone have experience of e-tenders? As in has anyone every won any worthwhile profitable business through it?
I've just signed up, but couldnt find the area I wanted which is Website services. I'd have thought that Web and social communications would have had a section all to itself
Yes, won a sale for a CMM (measuring machine) for Sligo IT thbrough it.
I'd imagine web services etc would fall into IT.
Do you mind my asking - did you make a decent margin on it? With a previous employer in the IT sector, we could never win any of the tenders, even when we tendered with a margin of 3% and sometimes less.
We have applied for about 10 different tenders on it and won two of them.
The first thing I'd say is, I find the eTenders service itself (Website/e-mails etc) itself very good.
BUT, there is a huge variation in the level of people that are using it...
I think in a lot of cases, people are only sticking up tender requests because they are obliged to do so. They aleady have a supplier that they are happy with, but because they are a government department they are obliged to re-tender every few years. Now, on one hand, I don't blame them - If they have a good supplier who is not ripping them off - why change. But, on the other hand, another supplier might spend a few days putting a Tender together not knowing that they are really wasting their time.
Of the 10 or so Tenders we have gone for, we only actually heard back from about 5 of them. The other 5 didn't even bother send back a response. Two in particular, I followed up on for about a year afterwards, and a I don't think a decision was never made in both cases. We had put a lot of work into them.
Another tender that we were recently turned down for sent back a detailed letter showing how our tender scored in a number of different areas compared to the winning tender. This was very useful, and while you'd be disappointed not to get the work, at least you'd feel that you were considered and someone had taken the time to read your tender and evaluate it.
In relation to Margin etc. there are a good number of people using it. Where we won tenders, it was because it was in a very specialised area where we have a lot of experience. If it is in a more general area, competition can be fairly hectic.
Again, can I be cheeky and ask, were the two tenders that you won worth all the time and effort that went into preparing them?
I used to dread my boss coming to me and asking me to prepare a tender for some piece of business he'd seen on etenders. It took a hell of a long time to put them together. But you never knew if someone was just looking for the two other quotations, to cover their backsides.
Yes. They definately were. One in particular. (The other was small)
We won't be able to retire off the money, but it was a 3 year contract and gaurnteed income that we could plan around.
We had to put an awful lot of work in, in the first year and definately made a loss on it. But, by the third year we had everything running smoothly and were making money on it. Through having the contract we also picked up a good few bits of extra work from the client over the years.
In general, what I try to do with eTenders now is, for a Tender that I think we would be able to do but that I think is fairly general and will have a lot of competition, I don't spend as much time putting it together and focus more on keeping the price down (But I can't say that this is the way to go because I haven't got any of them...!!!!)
But for something that was in our specialised area, I would go gung-ho on it.
You will find, once you have a few of them done, that you will be able to do them quicker as a lot of them look for pretty much the same info.
One thing that does annoy me is that a lot of them still look for you to print off 3 or 4 hard copies of the tender and post it up. I think that's an awful waste to time. Also, although some also require an electronic copy, sometimes they won't accept it by e-mail. You have to burn it to a disk and post it to them. Again, utterly pointless and a waste of time (and a CD).
What I think is hilarious about some of the tenders is the phrases like, "you may only apply for this tender if you have installed a system of similar size". Well might I ask how the other companies got the work then as you cant have installed a 500 point network if no one will give you the job first day cause they all want you to have done it before!!
I used to use it a lot but gave up as it seems to be designed for larger businesses with pools of people who have the time to be filling out mountains of paperwork..
We have won quite a bit of business through it, some at good profits, some not so good, but profitable never the less. Agree with previous posters some purchasers are using it just to satisfy the legal requirements of public procurement and if they are happy with a current supplier, then you dont blame them.
What is a useful feature is do a search for "contract awards" for your particular industry, see who is getting the contracts, see the price and see how many bidders there were, and also sometimes the tender award criteria. THis will give you some good insights.
In the last 12 months or so there has been a very big shift in the awarding criteria. Lowest cost now has a very strong rating, in many cases I find that that is the only criteria being used, if a firm has the minimum technical capabilities. We are quite careful about what we tender for, usually its just something fairly specalist that we are good at and few others are doing, tenders do take time to prepare.
Remember as well that e-tenders is just a process to make it easier to match buyers and sellers. Its not a substitute for salesmanship, you can still go to meet the buyers in these organisaitons, make presentations, send them samples, cold call etc, whetehr or not they have a tender out or not. If you do and then tender the next time they issue one, well at least they can put a face to a company and name, it all helps. Afterall business is done with people, not computers and the internet.
Apols for not getting back sooner, yes we made a good margin on the sale, around 25% but a lot of how we won was down to the support package we offered, only company in Ireland offering the product etc (we were priced lower than out UK counterparts).