Get your SME tender ready

NSW tenders: get your SME tender-ready

Becoming a supplier to the NSW government is a competitive and potentially lucrative activity.  The NSW government spends approximately $15 billion on goods and services each year, with a current policy focus on engaging SMEs.

A Request for Tender (RFT) or a Request for Proposal (RFP) is a procurement process used by private and public entities in need of goods or services. They invite businesses to submit pricing and information to obtain the most suitable provider for the project or servicework/supply.

If you’re considering preparing a NSW tender, there’s a lot you can do to give yourself a solid chance of a successful bid. This article sets out some of the basic principles of what’s involved in getting tender-ready.

NSW Government tenders

In 2020 the NSW Government updated its Small and Medium Enterprise and Regional Procurement Policy aiming to increase SME participation in NSW tenders and procurement opportunities. By 2023, the NSW government wants to see:

  • more contracts awarded to SMEs
  • more participation of SMEs on large contracts
  • increased spend with SMEs

Under the policy, a government agency must first consider engaging a regional business. If the procurement isn’t in a regional area, then an SME (of 200 full-time employees or fewer) should be prioritised for consideration. The policy applies to all direct procurements up to $250,000.

Who can submit NSW government tenders?

The government advertises current NSW tenders on their e-tendering website. Any business can apply for open tenders. You must be registered as a supplier on the NSW Government Supplier Hub. This registration also puts your business on a supplier list making you more easily found by government agency buyers.

Elements of a tender-ready business

Analysis of documents and NSW tender briefings

The more detailed and specific to the requested scope of works your submission, the better chance you have of success.

The first step is to break down the components of the documents into deliverables. This will give you a clear indication of whether your business can deliver the requirements of the NSW government tender, and what time and resources you will need to deliver your proposal.

On more complex procurements, it is in the NSW Government guidelines that the agency must provide a NSW tender briefing to an SME if you make a reasonable request for one.

Develop your tender response plan

Your best strategy is to document step-by-step what needs to be done by what date in order to deliver the tender on time.

Allocate sections of the tender response to the relevant people in your business. Ensure each section is delivered with enough time for review and editing. Make sure everyone working on the bid knows who has final responsibility for the proposal.

Experience on similar contracts to the NSW tender

You’ll need to demonstrate experience on similar contracts. Often the request asks for both public and private sector experience. For example, a museum’s maintenance contract will likely ask for other public or cultural space experience.

Case studies demonstrating value for money

Write one or two case studies from your existing contracts that you can attach as appendices to your NSW government tender response. Demonstrate how you solved each client’s problem with your service. Show the cost savings you initiated.

From an IT networking perspective, this might be the introduction of a cloud native networking system over traditional head office-based network infrastructure. Show the transparent cost savings between the two systems. Demonstrate the increased network security for remote working systems.

Policies, procedures and accreditations

Many tenders will request accreditations such as Quality, WHS or Environment. Having these types of externally certified accreditations will strengthen your submission. If you are not accredited, you can use the ISO 9001:2015 for Small Enterprises handbook to start building a quality assurance system.

Some NSW tenders will ask your willingness to gain accreditation. For others you will need to demonstrate in detail your own internal systems to address items such as quality and safety.

A key point of difference

Having a detailed understanding of your competitors and how you differentiate from them is key to a successful NSW tender. You need to be clear on your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). And you need to be able to prove it.

Examples of differentiation could be a bespoke technology-driven platform offering additional project insights or reporting. It could be a 24/7 client portal for tracking the stages of a project, or a GPS tracked personnel system that helps with work order tracking and even COVID-19 back-tracking if required.

Build a bid library

If your SME is considering submitting multiple tenders, building an electronic bid library of submission documents will streamline each tender submission in future. Documents you could add to a bid library include:

  • company overview
  • case studies of previous or current contracts/projects
  • CVs or bios of key personnel in your business
  • policies, procedures, and manuals

Don’t forget your formatting

Formatting is an important element of your bid presentation. You must deliver the tender in the requested format. Incorrectly formatted documents may not be assessed.

Review the draft services agreement

SMEs preparing to submit a tender should seek legal review of the draft services agreement that’s provided as part of NSW government tenders. Your bid will likely be legally binding if accepted. What are the terms of the contract? An experienced commercial lawyer can advise on damages clauses, late delivery of works (liquidated damages) and the financial and risk implications of extraordinary or unprecedented events.

As with any contract it’s essential to understand the implications of what’s included in the draft services agreement — and what’s not. Discussing the consequences of any commercial contract with a trusted legal adviser is simply good business.


Any decision that affects your business has legal implications. Contact us today to help secure your business for whatever tomorrow brings.

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