Each of our case studies has been provided by enterprises across Northern Ireland who have been successful in winning public sector tenders. Their experience and advice may be helpful for you to learn how to access public sector opportunities.

H&J Martin - Facilities Management

With a trading pedigree spanning over 175 years, H&J Martin now has a workforce of 420 staff and primarily focuses on the delivery of planned and reactive maintenance, minor works, soft services, major construction and fit-out works throughout Northern Ireland, RoI, GB Europe and the middle east.

Our current framework agreement

We currently hold the Pan-Government Collaborative Framework Agreement for Maintenance and Minor Works across all the Northern Ireland Civil Service buildings in the Southern region. This contract provides the NICS southern region with a multi-discipline planned preventative maintenance, response maintenance and minor works service across a diverse property portfolio which includes Parliament Buildings, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Veterinary Science Division facilities and Driver & Vehicle Testing buildings.

Commencing in April 2014 this framework runs for four years, and follows on from our previous contracts for both the northern and southern NICS estates which ran from April 2010 to March 2014.

Having worked with DFPNI and Central Procurement Directorate on the previous frameworks, retention of this contract was very important to H&J Martin. As the most prestigious public sector property contract within Northern Ireland, this framework offers H&J Martin an excellent opportunity to grow our business, service offerings and SME engagement; indeed it is a reference project that allows us to bid for contracts outwith Northern Ireland.

Finding out about public sector opportunities

As our primary source for public sector tender notifications in Northern Ireland, we review all eSourcingNI and eTendersNI tender listings on a daily basis. This daily routine allows us to identify all opportunities in good time and manage the bid process efficiently by prioritising workload against opportunity.

With regards to our current framework agreement, as the incumbent provider we were also aware of the 2010-2014 contracts coming to an end, and commencement of the subsequent re-tender exercise.

The bid team

The tender for our current framework agreement was lead by our Facilities Management bid team, supported by our Operations teams, with a PQQ receipt through to tender award time line of approximately nine months. This team consists of professionals who specialise in the delivery of facilities management, maintenance activities and minor works projects.

This experience allowed us to develop and deliver a sustainable service delivery model which ensures contract, performance and legislative compliance whilst offering best value and industry best practice.

The tender library

Whilst each tender exercise offers unique challenges (regarding service specification, geographical locations, operational needs and performance requirements which must be addressed as a blank canvas from first principles) we draw upon our experience and tender library when formulating our solution and response.

By retaining and developing this historical information we can efficiently respond to the ‘Quality’ elements of the submission and also reflect upon commercial aspects of the bid.

Meet the Buyer events

The staff in the bid team have attended numerous Meet the Buyer events and workshops run by CPD and other public sector clients / bodies. These events are essential for all bidders regardless of sector, as they offer an insight and understanding of the client’s needs, procurement methodologies and strategy which greatly assist when preparing our submissions and wider business plan for development and growth.

Learning from experience

Following each bid the team carries out a detailed and robust post-review, analysing the submission. As we applied lessons learned, over time we have improved the quality of our submissions and commercially offering, time and time again.

Building a strong relationship with the client

We believe that H&J Martin as an organisation has an excellent professional relationship with our current client on this framework agreement. Unique to this framework is the fact that there are multiple clients, stakeholders and end users who must be engaged, and their day-to-day business needs supported and managed across all aspects of the delivered services to reduce disruption and ensure the ongoing function of central government departments.

Our experience as a contractor is further enhanced by the client’s willingness to engage with our management and operational teams in a true partnership fashion, working to resolve technical and operational issues and deliver a quality service and product which in turn meets the needs of their diverse client base.

Technology is always advancing - we brought to the contract many innovative practices that will enhance customer service and improve transparency and auditability.

As a direct result of this award we have employed additional managers, operatives and apprentices in specialist roles; however this was off-set by the loss of some staff members who was transferred to the Northern region supplier under TUPE legislation.

Final tip - focus on qualitative questions!

From our experience in competing for public sector contracts, the most significant and relevant piece of advice we can pass on is that suppliers must be focused on answering the qualitative questions accurately. There are specific reasons for the qualitative questions and ‘general’ answers will not suffice for any client. 

Visit the H&J M Martin website

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