South African businesses in numerous industries benefit from government tenders by providing products and services the government needs to either support their tasks or assist in carrying out service delivery initiatives. Since the government – unlike private companies – is unlikely to close down or cease operations, government tenders also provide a safety net for companies as there’s a level of security and stability. So, it’s not surprising that even if you only have a few government tenders, having government tenders can help your company grow and provide stability in uncertain times.
South African eTenders are a process that allows you to search for and apply to government tenders online. These eTenders provide an easy-to-access digital portal that makes finding tenders you qualify for easy.
The portal itself was developed as part of the OCPO (Office of the Chief Procurement Officer) mandate, which is required to make applying for government tenders a fair and equitable process while ensuring there’s more transparency, cost-saving, and healthy competition.
That said, the primary function of the eTenders Portal includes:
- Publishing all tender notices alongside the official tender documents and Terms of Reference.
- Publishing any errors (corrigendum) by procuring entities.
- Publishing award notices and minimum information.
- Making available all the information and applicable rules to apply for the specific tender.
- Enabling searching to be more convenient by providing necessary filtering options.
To access tenders in South Africa, you have two options: doing it offline or using the online eTenders portal.
Offline access includes searching through bulletins, notices, and ads usually printed in newspapers or available from relevant government offices. Whereas online access means going to the eTenders portal – available at etenders.gov.za and filtering your search criteria to find relevant tenders.
Doing it online makes finding tenders far more convenient and allows you to apply to several tender opportunities with ease, compared to doing it offline.
When you are ready to apply for government tenders, the first step to a smooth application process is to become familiar with the eTenders portal. Then, once you’ve done that, follow these six steps for a more straightforward and successful tender response.
Step 1: Search Through Active Tenders
The first thing you want to do when applying for government tenders in South Africa is to visit the eTenders website and, either:
- use the search function to find opportunities based on your criteria or
- use the browse opportunities function.
Using the “Browse Opportunities” function allows you to search through only active tenders.
Step 2: Find Tenders You Would Like To Apply To
Once you’ve started browsing opportunities, you should find a handful of tenders you find relevant.
You can then download the accompanying documents of these tenders, which you’ll find by clicking the green cross on the right side of the tender information.
Note: If you’ve never applied for South African government tenders before, you should consider only applying for one or two to gain an understanding of how the process works.
Step 3: Study Accompanying Documents
Now that you’ve downloaded the documents, you should begin reviewing them. You should pay close attention to the Terms of Reference and TOCs that are within the documentation. Doing this will help you prepare a proposal to the standard required to be awarded the tender.
Step 4: (If Applicable) Attend The Briefing Session
If necessary, you may also have to attend a briefing session, which will give you more information on the tender process and can help provide clarity on parts of the tender documentation. Some briefing sessions are compulsory, which you will see on the eTender portal.
Step 5: Prepare Your Documentation
Your documentation will be the most critical component when determining whether or not you’ll be awarded the tender since this is the only information the organ of state or municipality has to analyse your capability and capacity to perform the work required. Therefore, your proposal should be thorough and in an easy to understand format. Additionally, all the most critical information – like capabilities – should be addressed first.
Step 6: Send Your Documents To The Relevant Contact Person/s
Now that you have prepared your documents, the final step is to send your documents to the relevant contact person before the tender’s deadline.
You will usually be able to email your documents with the information required attached.
If you want to increase your chances of success when applying to South African government tenders, you should also follow these tips.
Be Sure You Can Complete The Project
Before applying to a tender, be sure that you can complete the project. If you are awarded the tender and unable to complete the work, you may be liable to the government for the financial loss incurred.
Register Your Business on The CSD Website
Be sure you’ve registered on the CSD (Central Supplier Database) website to give yourself an advantage over other applicants. As, in cases where urgent applications are needed, government departments may search this database first.
Pay Close Attention to Accompanying Documentation
The accompanying documentation in a tender sets out all the requirements, terms, and format for applying for the tender. If you haven’t read and understood these documents, your application won’t be as effective as those who have.
Search For New Tenders on a Weekly Basis
Preparing to apply for a tender can be a drawn-out process, so you never want to be finding out about a tender a day or two before the application process closes. Therefore, it’s advised that you search for new tenders every week; this way, you can be the first to know and can begin preparing your proposal immediately.
Review Awarded Tenders
Knowing who has been awarded tenders similar to the one you’re applying to in the past will help you develop a stronger proposal. You now have more insight into what the government is looking for in its applicants and can mimic that in your proposal.
Most of the largest companies in South Africa – and the world – benefit from government tenders to some degree. So, applying to and receiving a government tender should never be a shameful thing. Instead, it’s a savvy way of doing business that ensures you’re relying on a stable form of income generation, which can facilitate growth in the private sector and beyond.