Procurement Reform is on the way, aiming to make procurement or tendering simpler and more transparent to benefit suppliers and buyers. This begs several questions; for example, how does Procurement Reform affect the B2G market, and how must marketing strategies adapt to accommodate the changes?
The Procurement Market
The Procurement Bill makes some significant changes to the B2G market, one of the biggest being the central information hub, which, among many other things, stores supplier information and advertises new contracts as soon as they become available. Everyone has a chance to properly prepare their proposals.
This helps to level the playing field in the B2G procurement market. However, the real leveller is the selection process.
- Value for money: Value for money will outweigh the straight cost. B2G marketers can tailor marketing content to emphasise the benefits specific to buyers, especially when it comes to ROI.
- Transparency: Transparency is essential in government procurement processes because it needs to stand up to public scrutiny, including spending and fairness in proposal acceptance.
- Key Performance Indicators: KPIs provide company information, particularly regarding performance. B2G marketers can prove a high standard of performance by including case studies and testimonials in their marketing strategy.
- Integrity: Integrity indicates moral and ethical business practices based on honesty and accountability. It’s important because the public holds government agencies to a high standard and assures potential partners that all their processes are above board.
You can find out more about the new requirements in the B2G selection process, including public benefit and fair treatment, from the National Procurement Policy Statement (NPPS).
The Government is also actively encouraging SMEs to enter the market by increasing the availability and accessibility of government tenders. This is achieved by publishing low entry-level contracts, starting at just over £12,000. This opens up the market to all businesses regardless of size.
The Procurement Bill Facilitates Smoother Cross-Border Projects
The Procurement Bill also simplifies the tendering process and market access by doing away with the four sets of regulations currently used and introducing a single regime. The single regime opens an umbrella over public contracts (e.g., from local authorities and schools), utilities contracts (e.g., water and transport), concession contracts (e.g., works and services), and defence and security contracts.
Standardisation speeds up cross-border tenders (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland), as well as admin tasks. Not only does this make procurement more efficient, but it enhances the efficiency of the entire supply chain process.
Why Procurement Reforms? Why Now?
Brexit and COVID-19 hit the economy hard and recovering from the knock has been a priority for several years. It’s taking longer than anticipated for the economy to recover and will take longer still as experts predict that Brexit’s impact will be felt significantly longer than Covid, even though Covid’s impact was significantly larger.
Opening up the procurement process to all businesses can give the economy a little boost by driving innovation and productivity.
By using a new regulatory framework, Procurement Reform is intended to overcome some of the obstacles that have been hindering economic growth by making “the public good” (as mentioned above) one of the qualifying factors in the procurement process. The wider focus provides social and environmental benefits in line with the government’s plans to turn the economy around and meet climate change targets.
In addition to the socially transformative requirements, reform changes can be divided into two broad categories: Flexibility and transparency.
The Procurement Bill discards the five types of procurement procedures and replaces them with just two choices. This eliminates confusion that arises from five different sets of rules and requirements.
The two new tendering procedures are
- Single-stage where absolutely anyone can bid on a contract.
- Competitive where the contracting authority can limit the number of bidders wherever it sees fit in the procurement process. This provides authorities with the leeway needed to design procurements specific to their needs.
The goal is to optimise transparency throughout the procurement process with a particular focus on procurement decisions. This includes:
- Providing unsuccessful bidders with additional information about the evaluation process so they can adjust future proposals and improve their chances of success.
- Providing information about completed projects, which gives future bidders insight into what the public buyer requires.
- Publishing payment-related information regarding projects, to which the public has access.
- Publishing a contract change notice before any changes are made.
Exclusion and Debarment
Transparency extends to the exclusion and debarment of suppliers. Most of the regulations regarding exclusion remain similar to current regulations. The changes apply largely to the debarment process. Contracting authorities are bound to notify Ministers when suppliers fail to meet requirements to such an extent that they are excluded or excludable.
Exclusionary examples include:
- Improper behaviour by failing to provide requested information, providing false or misleading information, influencing decision-making, and obtaining confidential information.
- Poor performance such as a breach of contract that terminates the agreement or when suppliers underperform and aren’t able to improve service delivery given the chance.
It’s important to note that behaviour and performance issues must be extreme to warrant exclusion. Furthermore, suppliers facing exclusion are given opportunities to address the problems and be considered viable candidates.
It’s up to the relevant Minister to decide if the supplier must be added to the debarment list. Suppliers must be notified before they are added to the list and they must have the opportunity to appeal the decision. If the Minister still deems it necessary to add the supplier to the debarment list, they must specify the exclusionary grounds, and provide a time at which they think the grounds will no longer apply.
Suppliers are allowed to appeal to the Minister to be removed from the list, provided they can prove they’ve remedied the circumstances that led to their debarment or supply additional information not included in the initial decision.
The best way to stay off these lists and foster good relationships with contracting authorities is to ensure you meet goal Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and your public good commitments.
B2G Marketing Strategies
As with all marketing strategies, the aim of a good B2G strategy is to sell your products, works, or services to the public sector (government-related contracts). Unlike other markets, B2G marketing has to target very specific procurement requirements and meet specific regulations before they can submit proposals. It’s essential for businesses to fully understand their sector and their role within the sector, so they can tailor their B2G marketing strategy in a way that doesn’t just promote their business. It must also prove they understand public sector marketing challenges and provide creative solutions that deliver a sterling performance.
B2G Marketing Needs to Change Tack
The Public Procurement Bill has the potential to upset current B2G marketing strategies. However, B2G marketing strategists who love a good challenge can take their current strategies and repurpose them across all marketing channels. By changing their approach, marketers can reach more key decision-makers in their sector. Optimising the following elements in the public sector procurement can put you front and centre in new tenders.
You must understand your audience, especially because B2G marketing requires a different approach to other markets. However, not all businesses have the resources to undertake extensive market research and then interpret and use the information as a foundation for all public sector marketing campaigns. There are public sector marketing agencies that carry out tailored market research to suit your business’s offerings and package their findings in user-friendly reports.
Email marketing remains one of the most successful marketing channels available to online marketers. A professional B2G marketing company with a unique email delivery platform ensures that campaigns comply with the new regulations, putting you and your services in front of key decision-makers.
Events and Webinars
Events and webinars are a great way to deliver information in an engaging manner, whether it’s for education or entertainment purposes. A webinar that details how you’ve adapted your processes to more than meet new procurement requirements can be particularly helpful if broadcast to the right audience. Live events, like workshops, conferences, and seminars where experts talk about how to optimise marketing in the face of reforms, are a great way to get industry insiders talking about your business.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when talking about public procurement, but a professional platform, like LinkedIn, is great for sharing written content and linking to webinars and other recorded events. Social media is where you build a network of professional peers and start establishing relationships through mutual connections, but it’s not necessarily as easy as it seems, especially in a market as specialised as B2G. It’s a good idea to work with an online marketing company that can help you develop a strategy that optimises social media engagement..
B2G Marketing Specialists
In the beginning, we set out to explore how the B2G market would be affected by the Public Procurement Bill. In some ways, the Bill has very little impact on the public sector procurement process as many regulations stay roughly the same. However, there are some marked changes, especially regarding supplier exclusions and using a single hub to store constantly updated supplier information.
When it comes to marketing, many strategies hold true. However, broadcasting your business’s readiness for procurement reform is a priority in the lead-up to the official launch of the Bill.
Cadence Marketing is the perfect partner in the B2G sector, thanks to its experience, established network, and bespoke data-driven approach to B2G marketing. You can find out more about our public sector marketing solutions when you sign up for a free marketing consultation.