ABERDEEN City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, and Highland Council Shared Procurement Service delivered the first ever ‘Talking Tenders’ webinar for the region last month, in partnership with the Supplier Development Programme, an initiative for local businesses looking for a new path to market in 2021.
Held on 27 January, the free online event focused on upcoming contracts and frameworks to be let by the Shared Procurement Service across all three councils in the coming year. Approximately 140 individuals attended the online event, including 114 attendees from 92 unique Scottish SME businesses.
Speaking in advance of the event, Councillor Trish Robertson, Highland Council’s chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, said: “Each year, £12.6bn is spent in Scotland’s public sector on goods, works and services, and this webinar is a good starting point for businesses to engage with all three councils and find out more about upcoming contracts.
“I really hope as many Highland businesses as possible take up this opportunity as successfully securing public contracts will provide some much-needed stability, especially those impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. There will be a lot of advice, information and support on offer.
“Businesses that participate will understand how the tender process works, and be able to ask questions to council staff about upcoming tender and framework opportunities so this really is an excellent chance for any business looking for a new path to market in 2021.”
This webinar covered a wide range of topics and help suppliers to:
- Learn about the Shared Procurement Service and its role across three local authorities;
- Understand how its tender processes work;
- Find out where and how the Shared Procurement Service advertises tender opportunities;
- Gain an insight into upcoming tender and framework opportunities; and
- Learn about the Supplier Development Programme’s range of training services, and how to become ‘tender ready’ for these upcoming contract and framework opportunities.
After the event, Fiona Conti, Strategic Procurement manager (interim) and Category manager for the Commercial and Procurement Shared Services at all three local authorities, said: “The Commercial and Procurement Shared Service for Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Highland Councils arranged our first ever Talking Tenders event with the Supplier Development Programme to introduce suppliers to how we work, offer useful guidance as to how they can better engage with our councils, and give early notice of upcoming contract opportunities.
“Our partnership with the Supplier Development Programme was critical to the success of this engagement event, from advertising to event management through to hosting and collation of supplier feedback.
“This Talking Tenders event was all about preparedness, and helping local SME businesses with tangible resources and support to be more successful in bidding for work. With support from SDP, we managed to secure a very large audience who were keen to interact and ask questions.
“Supplier engagement is absolutely crucial to adding value to our procurements, as well as to engender economic growth. We are looking forward to delivering future training on specific opportunities with SDP over the next few months, as we are confident that these will be just as successful as this first event.”
Gillian Cameron, SDP Programme manager, said: “As the newest council members to join the programme, we were delighted that 140 suppliers took part in this session, demonstrating the scale of appetite from local suppliers to find out about the opportunities to work with the Shared Procurement Service, as well as the free tender training and support that SDP can offer suppliers from the Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Highland Council regions.
“During these exceptional times, public sector opportunities can afford small businesses a route to sustain their business, and it is vital for local suppliers to ensure that they are equipped with the skills to bid for upcoming contracts.
“We welcome all Scottish SMEs, supported businesses and other suppliers to fully embrace the free support and training that is on offer through the Supplier Development Programme.”
After attending, more than three-quarters of attendees that gave feedback said they were more likely to bid for future contracts with the three local authorities, and more than 80 per cent felt more positive about potentially working with this public sector buyer.
One Aberdeenshire micro business commented: “The question and answer part was quite beneficial,” while a medium-sized business from the same area said: “I feel more confident and knowledgeable in the process.”
Another medium sized business in Aberdeen City commented: “The webinar content provided useful information,” and a small business based in Highland added: “I have only been in my role since August 2020, so I am fairly new to this, but I am a bit more comfortable about tendering with the Shared Procurement Service now that I have attended this webinar.”
Other supplier feedback was also highly positive.
One supplier stated: “This webinar was really well run and organised I did feel that it was pitched more towards people who are new to bidding and tendering.”
The Supplier Development Programme is working with the Shared Procurement Service to bring bespoke, aligned tender training to suppliers in 2021. All Scottish businesses are welcome to register a free account on www.sdpscotland.co.uk.
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