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The reasons why creative businesses fail at tendering (and miss out on winning new business as a result)

27 April 2022
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Roisin Mallon

Q&A with Róisín Mallon, Bid Services’ Director, coach and bid specialist

We caught up with Róisín Mallon of Bid Services ahead of our upcoming Successful Tendering workshop to know a little bit more about what to expect in the workshop; the business opportunities tendering offers for creative businesses and where they fail at winning new business through the process.


  1. Tendering takes a lot of time – are there really opportunities for creative businesses?

    Yes – there are.
    It is important to consider all avenues by which tenders could be released, depending on value –
    creative businesses should ensure that they are aware of and registered for the same.

  2. When you say that the tender market is worth €90 billion annually, what does that mean for creative businesses?

    The tender market is huge – it is important that creative businesses consider various paths to market – tendering as an individual, with a partner, or as part of a larger consortium of bidders, to maximise their chances of winning a portion of this public sector spend.

  3. How can creative businesses identify whether a tender is worth going for?

    By analysing the specification and requirements and ensuring that they can ‘meet the brief’, that is that:
    ⚈ The potential client exists within the organisation’s target market
    ⚈ They can meet the basic criteria in terms of insurance, financials, experience, and resources
    ⚈ They can deliver the products and/or services as required
    ⚈ They can meet the required timescales
    ⚈ They have the right resources and skills available.

    All of the above should be supported by a suite of policies and procedures. It is still possible to tender without all of these in place, but the probability of success decreases.


  4. For creative businesses who feel they never win a tender, no matter how much work they put in; where might they be going wrong?

    A number of reasons! Misinterpreting the brief, lack of directly relevant experience, or rendering themselves non-compliant in the initial stages. Basic tender training will help de-mystify the process and jargon.


  5. Creative businesses often find it very hard to price accurately for a tender without being able to explore the brief with the client; what guidance can you give?

    Utilise the clarification questions – ask the right questions without giving away too much of your strategy. Submit them in plenty of time so that follow-up is possible if required.


  6. I hear that New Green Public Procurement (GPP) Guidelines have recently been launched by the
    EPA? Do these apply to all tenders?

    By 2023, all procurement using public funds will need to include green criteria. These will be appropriate to the size and value of the procurement and will serve as a means to ensure that organisations are making a bona fide effort to reduce their environmental impact, in order to support the public sector in the same.


Book your ticket for Successful Tendering Wednesday 11th May.


Find out how Design Skillnet can help you become more creative, human-centred, and impactful within your organisation.