The book, Government Tenders Don’t Suck; cut through the noise and win big contracts for your small business, drives home the significance of obtaining information, getting the nitty-gritty about the client, your competitors and the tell-tale signs on whether the tender is meant for you or not.
A new book, "Government Tenders Don't Suck; cut through the noise and win big contracts for your small business", drives home the significance of obtaining information, getting the nitty-gritty about the client, your competitors and the tell-tale signs on whether the tender is meant for you or not.
The 262-page book is authored by Monica Rubombora, a Ugandan-based in South Africa. She has for two decades worked in banking, insurance, management consulting and technology industries. She has also worked in government civil service and evaluated hundreds of tenders bids.
Rubombora worked as the deputy director general for the Government Procurement Shared Service Agency in South Africa where, she says, she led a team of almost 200 officials. She has seen it and she knows it. Early in the book, she tells small business owners to infiltrate the target client organisation and learn everything you can about them.
"Do this regardless of whether they are part of management, technical staff or administrative staff. Don't forget about the receptionists and personal assistants - we refer to them as the gatekeepers. Find out "WHO IS WHO" and "who makes a real difference". Identify the influencers, the key decision makers and possible bid evaluators and what drives them…," she writes.
She adds, "They are people who are not in any major hierarchical role, but nothing goes without them. Every leader has aspirations, so get to know what motivates them. Find out what their hot buttons are. What keeps them up at night. What their personal aspirations are. Figure out those that are not getting what they want. What's frustrating them. What is not working for them. Speak their language and know what their issues, needs, challenges, and opportunities are," she writes.
For Ugandan businesses, the book couldn't have come at the right time. The country is preparing to cash in on the oil industry, the government remains the spender and it wants local entrepreneurs to take at least 30 per cent of tenders advertised. The blow-by-blow guide on how to win these tenders comes handy.
"Pick their brains thoroughly. If you cannot get to them inside the client's premises, then try getting to them elsewhere - at the gym, shopping mall, or children's playground. I see a lot of client meetings taking place at coffee shops nowadays," she writes.
Also winning a tender sometimes needs lobbying.
Rubombora says that in a government setting, decisions are usually made by a committee. "It's a collective decision. But it is also an unwritten rule that members of committees are lobbied way before they sit in a decision-making meeting. Mark this territory way before the Request for Proposal (RFP) is advertised. Who recommends? Who approves?" she adds.
What comes out of the book is that networks are important. Former employees of the target agency whose tender you want to win can be just as important.
"Sniff out any previous employees or vendors that worked for that government agency that can give your insight about the target client," she writes.
The book also takes the reader into the world of dethroning the incumbent supplier of the agency. These are usually people who know much, she writes, but there are loopholes that can be exploited to snatch that tender from them.
Rubombora writes that a small business can look out for areas where the client has been complaining about the services of the incumbent, capitalise on them and hit them hard.
The book provides the dos and don'ts of the process. It dispels myths that one must pay a bribe to win a tender.
For the small businesses without experience, the author writes that the experience of the owners can come in handy - that when owners have previously worked with organisations that have done similar work.
If there is nothing to show, she writes, don't waste your time applying for tender. Don't just bid for any tender, she says. "You need to have a very good understanding of what your own internal capabilities are. It helps a lot if you are already an expert in your field; if you are quite well-known as being good at what you do."
In the end, the book reads like an intelligence manual for someone being inducted into (business) intelligence gathering. Words like infiltrate and hit are used often. But that is what it is about - understanding your potential client in and out - basically cutting through the noise.
The book costs USD 5 (19,000 Uganda Shillings) on Amazon where it's already been enjoying best-seller status for weeks now.