We sat down with Chris Dare, Bid Coordinating Manager at Nacro.
Nacro is a leading national social justice charity which house, educate, support and advise disadvantaged young people and adults.
Before Contracts Advance how were you sourcing public sector contract/framework notices?
We had a dedicated individual who committed 100% of their time to managing 150+ portals. We also used two paid for services from well-known suppliers, which were not meeting our needs and costing in excess of £7500 per annum – a sum a charity like ours can ill afford, but we had believed these services to be essential and had been paying for them for 10+ years.
What was your greatest frustration about working in this way?
Firstly, not knowing when alerts would be sent as they were infrequent. Secondly, the constant search for opportunities and not knowing whether we had everything covered, or if we were missing key opportunities. Thirdly, the costs involved; knowing we were paying for a service that often didn’t yield any relevant results. It was also difficult to change preferences without incurring even more costs.
And lastly, having a member of my team tied up with managing this constantly was not a good use of their time and this resource could be better placed elsewhere.
What were the key factors which gave you the confidence to consider Contracts Advance?
The Business Development Manager who called us immediately set me at ease. Contracts Advance understood the 3rd sector, had researched our charity and the BDM was very helpful. We enjoyed the professional demonstration of the system and the ability to ask questions and explore the system without feeling pressurised into buying.
We also felt that we would save a lot of money switching from our existing service providers and indeed get a more comprehensive and responsive service with a named client care manager.
Contracts Advance’s Bid Management team could clearly bring expertise and knowledge that would benefit our business in winning work from the public sector. Also, knowing one of the consultants, having previously worked together on other tenders and having confidence in the expertise of that individual (James Bunt, Contracts Advance Consultant).
Lastly, having a reliable service and notification provided at the same time each day.
How easy did you find the onboarding process and set up?
It was an extremely easy process that was completed quickly and with the minimum of fuss. Initially, we ran dual systems with our existing paid services, but it quickly became clear that Contracts Advance covered everything we were getting from these two services and much more. I did an initial list of topics (CPV Codes / Key Words) to be included on our profile which was updated in a very short amount of time and off we went.
What have you found the most valuable aspects of the service?
Reliable information provided at the same time each day and always getting an explanation if there is a problem/delay; this has always been due to the procurement teams within the public sector agencies rather than Contracts Advance being to blame. We really appreciate this regular contact and the fact that we have never been pressured into buying extra services that we don’t need.
We have attended one of the Bid Managers Forums so far (Contracts Advance hold these twice a year). The topics covered were extremely pertinent and the information presented was informed and invaluable in taking back to others in my organisation. It was a great opportunity to meet others albeit from different sectors, but it was interesting to see that we all experienced similar problems/concerns about bid and tender processes, rebidding for existing work or presenting new and innovative ideas to commissioners. The day also addressed things like social value which has come to the fore in recent years.
What other Contracts Advance services have you explored?
We are looking at buying a bespoke package of training (CA Masterclass: Practitioner Training). We are selecting 5/6 modules to be covered over 2 days in the first instance. It’s good that you are willing to tailor packages to meet our specific needs and requirements.
How happy are you to recommend Contracts Advance to a colleague or peer?
We are very happy to recommend your company and services to others. It is exceptional value for money and the knowledge and expertise of the team is invaluable. It’s easy to set your preferences and you can rest assured it will cover your business needs.