Are public tenders a waste of time?

Posted by Jim on March 19, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

By Ross McCarthy20th February 2019

Keystone Procurement

Business owners often ask us are public tenders a waste of time.? In this post, we are going to tease out this assertion and look into the reasons behind this assertion.
Are public tenders a waste of time?
Busy business owners prioritise what they focus on and where they place their efforts to drive their business forward. Public and private tenders (typically into large multinationals) can be time-consuming. It can be difficult to decide if it is worth a company’s time to develop a bid response for competitive tenders. A typical bid costs businesses between €3,500 and €6,000 to develop and submit so every bid is an investment and needs to be treated as an investment.
So, are public tenders a waste of time? Yes, definitely – if you bid without a clear strategy. If you have a clear strategy, they are a profitable, stable source of sales that help businesses get through economic downturns and manage their financial exposure to private sector cycles.
If it isn’t a waste of time, how do you know whether you should bid or not?
Companies considering whether they should bid or not need a good strategy. They should only consider bidding if they think they can win. The table below contains some considerations for companies to reflect on BEFORE they develop ANY bid.

A good bid strategy avoids tenders that are a waste of time
How confident are you that:
You understand the organisation and its strategy – if the answer is no, why bid?
The organisation will want to see a bid from your company – if the answer is no, can you stand out?
You understand your competition – if the answer is no, how can you differentiate your approach?
Your solution is potentially compelling – if the solution is not meeting their specific needs, can you win?
You can deliver against all criteria – if you cannot meet all criteria, why bid?
You have a strong, relevant track record – if you do not have relevant experience, why bid?
It is worth taking the time to understand the buying organisation’s approach to procurement
Have you taken the time to understand whether:
The organisation is reputable and in good standing – have procurement scandals occured there?
Buyers rotate – have they used different buyers in the past?
There is a record of supplier rotation – have you checked financial reports?
Buying decisions are made by teams – have you investigated this?
There are no long-standing incumbents – have you investigated this?
No apparent personal relationships – have you investigated this?
Why the procurement culture matters
We assume that companies do not want their bids to be a waste of time. To avoid this, they need to ensure they understand the buying organisation(s). There are organisations across the public and private sectors that do not rotate buyers. In fact, sometimes, people remain in key roles, buying from the same suppliers, for decades. This does not mean that any rules have been broken, but it can mean bidding is a waste of time. Where organisations rotate suppliers, buyers rotate and decisions are made by teams, the bidding environment is more favourable to new entrants.
When dealing with organisations like publicly funded charities, community organisations or other infrequent users of procurement processes, the quality of the tender documents is important. Well-written tender documents indicate the people running the process have strong commercial acumen. While circumstantial, it provides an indication that the process is professional.

Why bid strategy matters
It is difficult to write a good bid without a good understanding of the organisation that the company is looking to sell to. While a company can win low-value work bidding with little knowledge of the organisation, higher value work is harder to win this way.
If a company wants to avoid a bid that is a waste of time, they need to ensure they focus on a specific set of organisations that buy their products/services and are a good potential fit for them culturally. The company also needs to understand their relative strengths and weaknesses compared to its competitors. The solution they develop and include in their bid document needs to be strong, tailored and fully meet the criteria outlined in the tender.
The final point we’ll make in this post is the importance of relevant, prior experience. Companies should only reference projects that align with the tender criteria. When a company says it wants a dessert pear but a supplier keeps talking about an avocado pear, what is the outcome likely to be?
Tendering does not focus on whether a company can do/provide a particular good or service. Instead, it focuses on where a company has already delivered to a high standard in the past. Newer companies can break through quickly but to do so they should focus on consortiums and strategic partnerships.
Check out our sister site, for more on consortiums and avoid tenders that are a waste of time by following these steps.

Go-2-Tender Workshop – Ballina

Posted by Jim on March 19, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

Event Details
Title: Go-2-Tender Workshop – Ballina
Date(s): 14th & 28th March 2019, 9.00am – 5.00pm
Venue: Great National Hotel Ballina
Price: £85/€100 per person

About the Event
Go-2-Tender is an InterTradeIreland programme which has been developed to give SMEs the confidence, knowledge and practical skills to tender successfully for public sector contracts in their own jurisdiction and on a cross-border basis.
The programme is geared towards SMEs who are new to tendering or who want to improve their basic tendering skills. The course consists of a two day workshop and a half day of mentoring. This mentoring may be extended by up to 2 additional days and all mentoring is delivered by an experienced consultant to assist with tender development.
This is a two-day workshop which will take place on 14th and 28th March 2019. The workshops will be held at the Great National Hotel Ballina, Dublin Road, Ballina, Co Mayo. Find out more course details below:
Day One
How to source above and below threshold contract opportunities
The bid/no bid decision
How the Public Sector buys (North and South)
How to assess opportunities using live examples
Electronic tender platforms (e.g. eTendersNI &
Success strategies for SMEs
Day Two
How to become more competitive
Improving your document writing skills
Checklist of tender content and how it should be presented
Debriefing following tender competitions
Action planning for successful tendering
Registration begins at 9.00 and the programme wraps up at 17.00 on both days.
Go-2-Tender provides excellent value for money and includes training, materials, catering and mentoring.
The cost is £85 or €100 per person.
Download the Go-2-Tender Workshop – Ballina application form.
Send completed registration form to


Support For Co-operative Development In The Agri Food Business.

Posted by Jim on March 04, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

Get your Agri Food business idea up and running in 2019

Groups of individuals or small businesses who would benefit from co-operation with other aspects of the agri food chain can now avail of business support from the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme.
Mandina Fulton, Senior Administrator from Countryside Services, who are operating the scheme on behalf of the NI Rural Development Program and DAERA, explains “The scheme recognises that small businesses in the agri food supply chain can often have difficulty finding time to identify the expertise and resources necessary to progress joint initiatives. The Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme will give like-minded businesses the opportunity to work together to explore ways of improving returns from the supply chain.”
Examples of this type of co-operation which were funded under the Supply Chain Development Program – the forerunner of this new scheme, are groups of growers in the apple and pork industries. They recognised the growth in artisan food products but did not have the expertise within their group to avail of this market opportunity.
The apple growers availed of the expertise of specialist mentor support to create a brand for their products and to produce marketing tools. They recognised the tourism potential of the apple industry and created strategic linkages with the wider supply chain including cider producers, restaurants and hotels, to make the product the central focus of a tourism destination project, thus creating new markets and ultimately consumers of their products. Local outlets began to work with the growers as they had created a professional marketing campaign which they could all become part of.
A small group of farmers rearing outdoor pigs faced the same dilemma. They were operating on a small scale and needed business advice on how to upscale their production capacity in order to provide a steady supply for customers and expand their customer base. They realised that they would be targeting high-end restaurants and farm shops so their product required a premium price. They availed of expertise to carry out a financial appraisal and marketing strategy which was followed up with study tours for the group to meet other high-end food producers in order to gain invaluable information on this niche market.
Mandina Fulton added “ Through the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme expert help is available for business planning, specialist mentoring, market research, training, study tours and business tools such as information systems, market intelligence, promotional material etc.”

Groups who wish to express interest or find further information should visit the Countryside Services web site or or phone 028 8778 8207

Enterprise Week: 4th – 12th March 2019

Posted by Jim on February 26, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

Enterprise Week

Building upon the success of Enterprise Week 2018, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, in partnership with a host of business support agencies, are delighted to present a week packed with events to suit all businesses at various stages of their entrepreneurial journey.
Events are at a glance below, with booking links for each event further below.
If you notice any errors or omissions, please email Many thanks

CBEP Careers Fair Friday 1st 8.30am – 3pm Lodge Hotel Coleraine
Recruitment Fair – Hospitality & Tourism Friday 1st 2.30pm – 4pm Lodge Hotel Coleraine
Business Model Canvas Monday 4th 9.30am-12.30pm Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council- Coleraine Offices
Developing a Marketing Strategy in a Digital World Tuesday 5th 10am – 12pm Roe Valley Enterprise
Employment Law Tuesday 5th 10am – 12.30pm Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, Coleraine Offices
Havening Techniques to Excel in Enterprise, with Karen Shirlow Tuesday 5th 12pm – 2pm Lean In Causeway
Crafters Showcase Tuesday 5th 5.30pm – 8pm Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart
Young Enterprise – Exploring Entrepreneurship Wednesday 6th 10am – 1pm Millennium Centre, Loughgiel, Ballymena
Advice for Businesses from the General Consumer Council Wednesday 6th 10.30am – 12.30pm Coleraine Town Hall
Social Enterprise Awareness Session Wednesday 6th 2pm – 4pm Gortnaghy Community Association
Who Wants To Be A Entrepreneur? Thursday 7th 10am – 12pm Roe Valley Enterprises
Branding Masterclass Thursday 7th 10am-1pm Ballycastle, Sheskburn House, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council
Young Enterprise- Exploring Entrepreneurship Thursday 7th 10am – 1pm Marine Hotel, Ballycastle
Business Support Drop In Clinic Friday 8th 10am – 1pmRoe Valley Enterprise
Be Bold Female Entrepreneurs Conference Friday 8th 9.30am – 4pm Galgorm Resort & Spa
Young Enterprise- Exploring Entrepreneurship Friday 8th 10am – 1pm Roe Valley Arts Centre, Limavady
The Digital Marketing Bootcamp Tuesday 12th 9.00am – 3.30pm Magherabuoy Hotel Portrush
Seasonal Employment Information Session Tuesday 12th 5.30pm – 7.30pm
Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council

Intermediaries Legislation (also known as IR35)

Posted by Jim on February 05, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

How to determine if  key personnel identified under contracts may fall within the scope of the Intermediaries Legislation for the purpose of payment of tax and National Insurance Contributions.

Bidders  must confirm in the Eligibility response Envelope  if:
They are providing the service directly to the Client(s) as a self-employed contractor, sole trader, freelancer, or consultant and pay themselves through their own limited company or partnership or have a material interest in that company;

They are supplying the workers through an Agency or Managed Service Company, and all workers are included on  payroll or paid through an umbrella company. If so, they will be required to provide details of how payments are made in compliance with PAYE and the IR35 rules (or state N/A)

Where they are NOT supplying the workers through an Agency or Managed Service Company,they will be required to explain how payments will be made to workers from 6 April 2017 to comply with the IR35 rules (or state N/A).

Further details on the IR35 obligations can be found at

Merry Christmas from the team at JCR Network Services Ltd

Posted by Jim on December 20, 2018  /   Posted in Blog

This office will be closed from 12 noon Friday 21st December 2018 and will re-open 8am Monday 7th January 2019.

We wish all our customers a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2019

All the team at JCR Network Services

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready – Donegal

Posted by Jim on November 22, 2018  /   Posted in Blog

Event Details

Title: Getting Ireland Brexit Ready – Donegal
Date(s): 30th November 2018, 8.00am – 12.45pm
Venue: Port Rd, Gortlee, Letterkenny
Registration: Book Now

About the Event

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready workshop will take place on Friday 30 November 2018 at Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Donegal.

Registration opens at 9am, and the event will run from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., the workshop will offer advice and information on supports available.

Individuals / companies with an interest in the business, agri-food / fisheries and tourism sectors are welcome to attend the workshop for free but registration is required in advance.

Other upcoming events


IntertradeIreland 22nd November 2018

TCD Alumni to Student Mentoring Programme 2018

Posted by Jim on October 04, 2018  /   Posted in Blog

Alumni Career Mentor Training October 2018

Date: Thursday, 11 October 2018

Venue: Trinity Student Counselling Services Office, 3rd floor of 7-9 South Leinster Street

Time: 5.30pm to 9pm

Would you like to become a great Mentor?

How do you make sure mentoring doesn’t become managing and how do you make sure you get as much out of it as you put in, if not more?

Trinity Development and Alumni in association with the Careers Advisory Service and Trinity Student Counselling Services are delighted to offer alumni volunteers this free training opportunity in advance of our upcoming alumni to student mentoring program. You will learn how to create and maintain positive, proactive relationships with your mentees including:

· Enhanced listening and communication skills

· Establishing communications and expectations

· Boundaries and referrals

· Building your own networks

This training will prove useful in your role as an alumni mentor but also for your own continuing professional development and will cover the following areas:

· Team building and participation skills

· Basics of coaching

· Conducting professional/developmental reviews

· Advanced communication and interpersonal skills

This event is free but places are strictly limited and registration at the link below is essential

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