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Keystone Column 41 – Innovation and procurement

By 14th October 2016 No Comments
The Keystone Column - No 40. Innovation and procurement

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Keystone Column containing business stories and public procurement opportunities that drive the commercial strategy of ambitious companies. This week, we catch up with more Brexit procurement developments and we look at innovation and procurement. Our weekly list of open tenders in the Irish public sector is also included below.

Business stories

Brexit and procurement

Brexit and procurement have not arisen for a while. This week, we saw that the Association of Civil Engineers in the UK has demanded the sweeping away of procurement rules post Brexit. While frustration with the bureaucratic processes maybe understandable, it is misguided. Britain made a huge contribution to shaping the 2014 rules that now apply across the EU.

What they may mean is that they want to seal off the UK from any contract seepage to overseas firms. This is an understandable and seemingly obvious possible consequence of Brexit but it may not work out this way. Most countries doing trade with the EU must accept procurement rules for trade purposes on the EU’s terms.

Alternatively, they may mean that they want streamlined processes. While desirable this is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Less onerous processes, in the absence of a legal revolution, open up a vista for graft, nepotism and much more besides. Britain has a high quality system today with the current rules and the the former Mayor of London (now Foreign secretary) still managed to oversee two questionable procurement contests to buy water cannons and to commission the ridiculous garden bridge project. A weaker system is more likely to result in more of these kinds of outcomes.

Updated Schedule of Frameworks and Contracts

An updated Schedule of Frameworks and Contracts has been published to inform public sector bodies and suppliers of the prioritisation of categories of expenditure by the OGP for the period up to the end of Q2 2017. The Schedule is updated on a quarterly basis so that a rolling nine month forward view is always visible. The Schedule is available to download from the following link:

The Schedule provides details of when key contracts and frameworks will be available for use by public sector bodies in Ireland. The schedule does not refer to the timing of procurement activity (e.g. market analysis, publication of Requests for Tender etc.) that is undertaken prior to any contract award or framework establishment. All OGP procurement activity will continue to be conducted through the eTenders platform,, where all relevant information will be available.

Interesting trends

What makes a good procurement function

We are often asked what characterises a good procurement function. It is a good question and generally speaking we would say the answer is not particularly straight forward. A good procurement function in a large construction company will be excellent at certain things and may apply some advanced contracting or negotiating techniques but would almost certainly be less developed than a high performing procurement function in the pharmaceutical sector.

When we work with procurement functions, we undertake a detailed assessment of them. This exercise helps us to profile where the organisation is in terms of its development. In the private sector, in many cases, they are unlikely to seek to improve many aspects of what they may be assessed against. In the public sector (or a heavily regulated private sector industry) however, they may feel compelled to do so.

High performing organisations share a number of traits some of which we outline below:

  • They have strong leadership and clarity of vision;
  • They have a specific strategy for procurement that is aligned with the business strategy and is seen as enabling to the latter;
  • They have outstanding sourcing capabilities and are skilled at specifying and obtaining works, supplies and services on the right terms;
  • They are good at managing suppliers and different kinds of supplier relationships;
  • They understand contract management and how to use it;
  • They know their own processes and systems and work to optimise them;
  • They measure their inputs and outputs and seek feedback from suppliers, customers and other stakeholders on a routine basis;
  • They hire and/or train their people to excel in their roles for as long as they have them.

To this we might add one further magic ingredient, good judgement. The will to win is only useful as a skill when it co-exists with the capacity to achieve a mutually agreeable compromise.

Innovators dreaming of Longford

A few companies have asked us recently what would it take to win a contract in the new Centre Parcs complex that is planned for Co. Longford. Well we pulled a few strings, spoke to a few people and have come up with a hit list of items that really push their buttons.


They like to commission and use renewable source materials over non-renewable materials. This is why they prefer wood to items like glass and plastic that have lower rates of reuse. Think through the needs of their customers and staff and wherever a more sustainable, economic option is identifiable from timber frames to glazing, there is a good chance that they are likely to give it some consideration.


They are very focused on innovation in the area of waste reduction. From anaerobic digestion to compactors, make sure whatever suggestion you are thinking about pitching is the kind of thing that would go down well at Green Party convention. We are serious about that last point – it is not intended as a glib comment – suppliers to Center Parcs are ecological and sustainable.

Water efficiency

They like to optimise water usage. From water efficient plumbing materials to slower flow showers, these kinds of options are core to their philosophy.

Each year Center Parcs run their own supplier award contests. Examples of award winning suppliers can be found here.

New public procurement tenders this week 

Visit the Keystone website to view our take on the 500+ active public procurement opportunities with more than five days until their deadline. There are a vast range of services, supplies and construction related to public procurement opportunities in the following sectors (there are many more sectors than the sample list below):

  • Construction and related trades, 
  • Professional & Advisory Services, 
  • PR, Media, Advertising and related,
  • ICT supplies and services, 
  • Training,
  • Property & facilities management,
  • Vehicle & automotive,
  • Catering and related services,
  • Cleaning and related services,
  • Waste Management,
  • Maintenance and related services,
  • Horticultural supplies & services,
  • Research & environmental monitoring,
  • Printing, office supplies and related services,
  • Trades,
  • Medical and scientific research, supplies and services,
  • A vast range of other services and supplies.

Businesses interested in any of these public procurement opportunities that are unsure of how they can follow-up on these tenders can contact Keystone at any stage. We would be happy to discuss your needs and where they may fit with your business growth plans. These public procurement opportunities are sources of business growth and innovation for companies across the country.

Keystone E-Tenders Report Open YTD as at 1310 (by date of publication)

Keystone E-Tenders Report Open YTD as at 1310 (by sector)

Please note, e-tenders often has public procurement opportunities incorrectly categorised so people relying on e-tender alerts could easily miss out on opportunities if they are dependent on it. E-tenders is only as reliable as the people inputting tenders and mistakes are made very frequently. The Keystone Column includes all live tenders posted on e-tenders since January 4th 2016 that have five or more days until their deadline as at October 13th 2016.