What is PCS-Tenders?
If you’re tendering for contracts in Scotland, you may have come across PCS-Tenders and wondered what it is. There’s a whole lot of confusing procurement terminology to wrap your head around if you’re new to tendering. There’s a never-ending stream of acronyms, so keeping track of what’s what can be hard.
Luckily for you, we’re here to help. This blog will explain everything there is to know about PCS-Tenders, what they are, and how to win.
So, what exactly is PCS-Tenders?
PCS stands for Public Contracts Scotland. PCS-Tenders is the national eTendering system centrally funded by the Scottish Government. The system is used by both buyers and suppliers to manage their tender exercises online.
What’s the benefit of the PCS-Tenders system?
One of the main advantages of the eTendering system is that there are standard SPD (Single Procurement Document) templates used. Buyers can use standardised ITT (invitation to tender) templates that enable buyers to easily create consistent tender documentation.
What can you do as a supplier?
Once you have registered in the system as a supplier, you will be sent a password via email. You will then be able to gain secure access to the site. You’ll then be able to express interest in any advertised PCS tenders that take your fancy.
You’re able to complete your supplier profile and apply for PCS tenders. If a buyer is using the standard questions, your responses will be automatically completed with the responses you have provided.
Why is this eTendering system better?
Many suppliers, and particularly SMEs, communicated to the Scottish government that the process of bidding was confusing. Particularly for public sector contracts, being time-consuming, expensive, and unnecessarily complicated.
In response to this, the Scottish government decided to standardise and simplify the tendering process for suppliers.
How can the PCS-Tenders system help SMEs?
PCS-Tenders has an inbuilt standard PQQ (pre-qualification questionnaire). It’s a simple system made up of mostly yes/no tick-boxes. Once you’ve completed it, you don’t have to do it again, streamlining the process and saving you time. It includes things like:
- Company registration details
- Your profile
- Contact details
- Accompanying certificates
- Health & Safety policies
- Environmental certificates
- Economic and Financial Standing
- Exclusion grounds.
3 tips to win your next PCS tenders
So, now you know what PCS tenders are and how they can benefit you as an SME supplier. Bidding for Scottish government public sector contracts can have its advantages. Securing contracts can help your business grow and tendering should be seen as a viable way to grow your business.
Here are our three tips to help you see success when writing your response for PCS tenders.
Promote social value
The Scottish government are looking for bids that promote sustainability, community benefits and working with and supporting small suppliers. Buyers will be looking to how you will do this while delivering the contract at hand. Here are some examples of the type of things you could include in this aspect of your PCS tenders:
- Job creation
- Work experience opportunities
- Money going back into the local economy
- Supporting COVID-19 recovery
- Reducing carbon emissions
- Tackling climate change
- Encouraging sustainability
- Reducing waste.
Remember that what you include in a bid is contractually binding. Therefore, you should be making promises that you can actually keep. If this is what gives you an edge over your competitors and you don’t deliver, buyer’s will not be happy. You can easily avoid this by making reasonable and realistic promises you can keep.
Keep to the formatting requirements
Buyers are very pernickety when it comes to the formatting of their bids. If you blatantly ignore instructions, it will reflect poorly on you and your business. Make sure before you submit that the font and font size is what is stated in the specification.
Moreover, you should stick to the word/character counts. It’s worth noting that most responses on PCS Tenders have a character limit of 2,000 for responses. This equates to roughly 350 words. If a buyer is wanting a longer response, they will include an additional text box.
So, it’s best if you’re writing your response in Word, for example, to check your character count with spaces. You don’t want to be writing a detailed 1000-word response to then have to cut it down.
Address what’s in the specification
One of the reasons businesses lose out on a bid is that they don’t address what buyers are asking for. Some only skim the specification. However, you should take the time to read every aspect of it (even if it’s 80-pages). This seems counter-intuitive, as it will detail exactly what the buyer is looking for.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to go off on a tangent about why they are the best company. Although you should be persuasive in your response, stay focused. This is of course unless the question is specifying you to state this. It can result in a lot of wasted words. If you are saying why, back it up with hard evidence, statistics, and facts.
Break the question down and address each point. Using subheadings and bullet points can help ensure you’re covering all bases. For PCS tenders, buyers are wanting you to demonstrate in your response that you:
- Understand what they’re asking for
- Have a qualified and professional team to deliver the contract
- Hold evidence of a good track record in delivering similar goods/services to a similar standard.
Following these three tips can really help strengthen your bid response. They may sound simple, but you would be surprised at how often businesses ignore this advice. If you follow these, you will be well on your way to securing yourself your next Scottish government business contract.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what PCS tenders are, why they’re used and some of the benefits. If you’re a Scottish business, the PCS-Tenders system can simplify the procurement process when bidding for public sector contracts.
However, tender writing isn’t for everyone. This shouldn’t mean you miss out on business growth opportunities or securing government contracts up for bid. If you’re struggling with your application – we can help.