Success With GeBiz

An introduction to - the Government's one-stop business centre, and two SME-owners speaking on the success they have had with GP.

"In most economies, the Government is a good source of opportunities as it procures a substantial amount of goods and services. In Singapore, the Government procurement market is worth an average of S$10 billion a year," said Mr Png Cheong Boon, Deputy Chief Executive of SPRING Singapore, in his opening address at the seminar on seizing opportunities in the Government Procurement (GP) market.

The seminar featured information on the recent changes in GP rules, an introduction to - the Government's one-stop business centre, and two SME-owners speaking on the success they have had with GP.

Good News For SMEs

SPRING Singapore has been working closely with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to address feedback from SMEs on the significant challenges they face in accessing the GP market. It is indeed good news for SMEs that changes have been introduced to ease these challenges.

The first change put in place is an immediate approval can be received by suppliers as opposed to previously when they had to wait up to a week. This is facilitated through an Expenditure and Procurement Policies Unit (EPPU) provider which performs automatic online processing.

Another change is that the removal of the requirement of track records when registering as an EPPU supplier. This specifically benefits newer SMEs and start-ups that have little or no track record at all, allowing them greater access to the GP market.

The MOF has also reduced the number of supply heads from 68 to 45, which decreases registration costs for suppliers. Start-ups and established firms as well as sole proprietorship and partnership would welcome the removal of the financial cap previously imposed.

Other changes showcased included the replacing the "Capital Net Worth" criterion with "Net Tangible Assets" instead, the removal of registrations for procurements up to S$70,000 and the revised conditions of contract, which now sees contracts divided into four categories, namely Goods (S$500,000 and below), Goods (S$500,000 and above), services and systems.

Government Electronic Business

Aside from highlighting the changes, the seminar also featured an introduction of GeBiz. Short for Government Electronic Business, GeBiz is the Government's online one-stop centre for suppliers to transact with public sector agencies.

With 12,474 Government users and 14,529 GeBiz supplier accounts, GeBiz supports a number of procurement methods like small-value purchases (for purchases up to S$3,000), quotations (for purchases up to S$70, 000) and tenders (for purchases up to S$70,000).

To facilitate trading between the Government and suppliers, GeBiz has two systems in place – GeBiz Enterprise for the Government on the Government's intranet and GeBiz Partners for the suppliers on the Internet.

Two Local SMEs Share Their Experiences

Representatives from two local SMEs shared their experiences on Government procurement, the lessons they learned and offered pointers to the audience.

"Government Procurement has built up our strengths, improved our competitiveness and helped us to be better equipped to handle more difficult jobs in the future," said Mr Willy Goh, director of Ordell Management Pte Ltd, an IT hardware, software and service provider for 15 years, specialising in software development and system integration.

"Twelve years ago, we won our first tender with NEA control software. At that time, computers weren't so popular and we had many competitors. That was the first tender that we had responded to and we clinched the contract," said Mr Goh, who added that after winning the NEA tender, he knew it would lead to him submitting quotations for more tenders in future.

"I enjoy doing this because it's a great challenge. Even if I don't get the tender, I still feel very satisfied. It's like when you buy 4D," quipped Mr Goh. "The results comes out, and you start checking what prize you got. Are you the lowest? Try harder next time!"

Mr Ong Teck Soon, CEO of Abecha Pte Ltd, shared his encouraging sentiments on GP, "It's always been the company's policy to try our best and if you can get even one tender, you're successful already. Don't be discouraged by rejection because, as much as there might be the chance of success, there's also a high chance for rejection."

An e-auction and sourcing service provider, Abecha was incorporated in 1999 and, two years later, merged with Asia2B.

"As we are in the furniture line, we deal a lot with schools, especially the universities and polytechnics. In fact, NUS is one of our biggest clients. The project can start from S$50,000, up to S$1 million. Sometimes the time frame can last right up to one year," he continued, elaborating on Abecha's success with GP.

Mr Ong advised interested suppliers to continuously monitor tender opportunities via GeBiz to keep track of tender opportunities. He added that at Abecha, they log on to GeBiz once every morning, afternoon and evening. He highlighted that another advantage of Gebiz is that it also provides contacts from statutory boards whom suppliers can establish good relations with.

With GeBiz and the newly relaxed rules, attaining GP tenders is now easier than ever for local SMEs, making any GP opportunity one that seems well worth taking advantage of.

This story first appeared in Entrepreneur's Digest, a publication by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME). It is republished on courtesy of ASME.