One of the questions that gets asked about Ireland’s fiscal surplus is, quite simply, how is the government’s giant tax windfall going to be shared out around the wider economy?
There’s the planned sovereign investment fund, which will boost budgets for healthcare, pensions and tackling the climate crisis. The National Development Plan running to 2030 will invest €165bn in projects including housing, transport, digital infrastructure, healthcare and education, and forms part of the larger Project Ireland 2040 national planning framework.
The private sector would be forgiven for looking on at this significant public expenditure and thinking, that’s great for the country. But where do we fit in?
The answer is via public procurement.
The Irish government has capital to spare and is ready to invest heavily in the future of the country. But it will lean heavily on the private sector for delivery. In the coming years, there will be lucrative opportunities right across the economy in public tenders.
If you’re new to public sector contracting, it can seem like a daunting prospect. From the outside, the tendering processes can appear opaque and obstructive, while it’s easy to assume that it’s a market dominated by a handful of giant contractors to the exclusion of everyone else.
But that’s not the case. Sure, the tendering process is competitive. But contracts are awarded on merit. For businesses wondering how they can diversify their revenue streams in what is otherwise a challenging economic environment, exploring public contracts makes a lot of sense.
Here are some tips for getting started.
Of course, your suitability to deliver a public contract depends on finding the right opportunity. The http://www.etenders.gov.ie website is a central resource where all public contracting authorities in Ireland post tenders. As well as researching what’s available, read the procurement guidelines and familiarise yourself with the tendering process. While it can seem daunting at first, it is just a process, and once you understand the rules, it soon becomes nothing to worry about.
Especially with the lucrative nature of many public sector contracts, there is a temptation to convince yourself that you can do more than you are realistically capable of. It pays to be patient in waiting for the right opportunity, and not over-promising in an attempt to win contracts.
Bids are scrutinised closely in any case, so any embellishments or gaps in the evidence to back up your suitability claims will likely be found out. But the real value of taking public sector contracts comes from playing the long game. Deliver one successfully, and you will have a better chance of winning the next one. Establish yourself as a trusted, experienced supplier, and you’ll have your business on a very solid footing indeed.
Finally, applying for public sector contracts is a competitive process. Much depends on the quality of your application, as much as your actual ability to deliver (and at a competitive price). Presentation, providing all the information required, and of course ‘selling yourself’ in the bid documents all matter.
It’s also a time-consuming task. If you haven’t applied for a public tender before, you may well find it very laborious.
For all these reasons, there’s a lot to be said for hiring a professional bid writer. With technical and legal backgrounds, bid writers understand the format, they know how to tick the key requirements, and they can save you a lot of time while still increasing your chances of winning.