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  • #978588
    Anonymous
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    Hi all,

    I’m very interested to get some info from those with any knowledge and/or experience in working with government clients, specifically when it comes to things like tendering and standing offers.

    I am in the process of starting up a consulting business and aim to provide my engineering services to the Defence Force. I have worked previously in this area for a contracting company, and have strong relationships with my clients. There is a solid demand for my skills in this niche area, but i am just not sure how to get my head around all the procedures involved with selling services to the government. I’ve got some very useful info from the AusTender website, but am very interested to hear from anyone here may have any advice.

    Many thanks,
    James

    #1108156
    John C.
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    As a former employee of a government-funded agency, I’ll give you this advice:

    1. Learn to be very, very patient. The tendering and approval process can take many months… there are usually many people that need to sign off on a project, and sometimes even once something is approved in principle, gaining funding can take many months again. I felt sorry for many people who’s time I wasted during my career there!

    2. Allow for lengthy credit terms. Many Government agencies will demand 30 days credit, which often turns into 60 days once the invoice finishes bouncing around the organisation from desk to desk.

    3. Be prepared to spend many hours revising quotes and contracts to meet the demanding requirements of the agencie’s legal eagles.

    4. You may need to be listed as an “approved Government supplier” in order to deal with many government agencies. In victoria the relevant info is available here – http://www.procurement.vic.gov.au/

    Having said all that – contracts with Government clients can be very lucrative for the winning bidders, but you need to allow for all the above when you decide whether to quote or tender and how to set your prices.

    Cheers,
    John

    #1108157
    Anonymous
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    Cheers for the advice John… very helpful. I can relate to the need to be patient when dealing with government.

    I think the government prefers to deal predominantly with established companies, especially when awarding larger contracts. I haven’t come across many sole traders that work on long-term gov’t contracts. Seems like there are quite a few hoops to jump through to get on the stading offer list, but once on the list with contracts in place, it can be very lucrative as you say.

    I think another possible option is to work as a sub-contractor to approved suppliers that already have contracts in place.

    Regards,
    James

    #1108158
    Geronimo
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    Hi James,

    As you may have realised, defence operates differently to most other organisations and government departments.

    Most (nearly all) contracts are awarded to ‘prime’ contractors. This is an established model that defence has chosen to work with. As a small company, you are best placed to subcontract to a prime, or one of their subcontractors. Rather than respond directly to tenders, research which primes will bid, and approach them to be part of their tender.

    Defence is not the gravy train many believe it is. They do have funds, and its an interesting environment to provide products and services too. Just understand that they demand excellence and value for money. I have seen many companies come and go, by grabbing what they can, while they can, rather than focusing on long term relationships.

    Also consider the implications on your pi and Pl insurances. Once you start playing in the defence sphere, regardless of your size, it will sting, so your job quotes will have to reflect those costs.

    I’ve consulted to them for many years, so feel free to ask if you have more specific questions.

    #1108159
    Frank Stillitano
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    Hi James,

    I have supplied professional services direct to government clients as a sole proprietor. I have also assisted clients presenting successful tenders and registrations of interest to government clients on several occasions.

    As a creative professional, my field of expertise is in the marketing and presentation of your services to government clients. If you need this sort of help, please feel welcome to contact me.

    Frank Stillitano
    http://www.studioflux.com.au

    #1108160
    Anonymous
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    Thanks for all the helpful info! I apologise that i haven’t checked-in for a while. I spent a while exploring the options re: contracting direct to defence and decided that it was not the most feasible business option, especially as a sole trader taking on the likes of the prime contractors and established suppliers, who have thousands of employees. Cheers Geronimo and John for your input… I worked within defence for 5 years and can definitely relate to all your comments and advice.

    The sub-contracting route seems feasible, but im now more focused on entering the commercial eng sector, as opposed to supplying defence. Seems to be fewer hurdles and more opportunities available for small tier business and sole traders. I suppose consulting to defence could still be an option down the track after once established.

    Cheers,
    James

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