October 2011 - Assessing the Chances

The market which involves responding to public sector tenders is getting increasingly hard to call. There are more people out there arguing over fewer bits of work.

So the question is: which ones to bid for?

Often it's a matter of complete guesswork, but it's clear to all that putting in a lot of poor quality bids doesn't work. There are no silver medals, so being a runner up many times doesn't equate to winning once.

We've developed a tool (free to users who register on this website, registration free of charge) which shows a way of looking at this. It's not rocket science - but it helps that all important process of deciding whether to bid or not. And it shows what perhaps we all know, that if there are likely to be a lot of bids, is not worth going for it unless believe you're an outstanding candidate.

January 2012 - Clusters and Partnerships

Partnerships and clusters were all the rage once, but these days it looks like everyone is in it for themselves. The work we've done suggests that the approach is mroe relevant than ever, but it perhaps doesn't represent the practice.

Partnerships between public and private sector organisations need to be mroe like real partnerships, with the private setor being challenged to act and the public sector being challenged to listen. The game where partnerships were just a rubber stamp for what teh Council was going to do anyway have gone.

In the same way, in earlier times, much public funding went into cluster development, without a lot of thought regardingfuture direction and strategy - and now clusters have to work out whether it makes sense to continue to work together or not.

Partnerships need work - it's not just a question of getting everyone into the same room to talk every so often. We've produced a partnership health check, free for registered users (registration is free) - register and log in and check whether you favourite cluster or partnership is up to scratch!

 

The market which involves responding to public sector tenders is getting increasingly hard to call. There are more people out there arguing over fewer bits of work.

So the question is: which ones to bid for?

Often it's a matter of complete guesswork, but it's clear to all that putting in a lot of poor quality bids doesn't work. There are no silver medals, so being a runner up many times doesn't equate to winning once.

We've developed a tool (free to users who register on this website, registration free of charge) which shows a way of looking at this. It's not rocket science - but it helps that all important process of deciding whether to bid or not. And it shows what perhaps we all know, that if there are likely to be a lot of bids, is not worth going for it unless believe you're an outstanding candidate.

August 2011 - Getting Open Source to Pay

Can open source software be made to pay?

It seems that there's a lot of confusion about open source both as a philosophy and as a commercial model. Many seem to think that it's just about giving money away and confuse the "free" in free love with the "free" in free beer. Open source software isn't necessarily free of charge!

But even where open source software is distributed free of charge, there are a number of ways of making money from it, and real comapnies are doing quite well out of it. Approaches include: charging for training and support, charging for being a member of a community, asking for donations, having preoprietory upgrades, and even selling the hardware. And of course this all is with cleaner software since it doesn't spend its time checking whether you've got a valid licence.

May 2011 - Evaluations

What's the purpose of evaluation?

It's interesting how there are far fewer evaluation contracts around all of a sudden. Some of the funding bodies are saying: well we won't be continuing so there's no point in evaluating what happened. And some of the funded organisations are saying: there are better things to spend money on than evaluation.

I think that both of these are short-sighted views. Evaluation is important to make sure that you synthesise what has been learnt during a project and helps you design the next one. Making sure you design the next one correctly at a time when there isn't an immediate follow-on and personnel may change makes it doubly important to encapsulate the lessons learned. What are we going to do in a few years' time when funding returns? Will we repeat the failures of the past just because nobody thought to have a proper ending to projects now?

February 2011 - Municipal Solid Waste

How many of us really know what happens to our waste?

Doing a study recently it's interesting to see the approaches of different countries to the disposal of municipal solid waste. The EU Landfill Directive means that there has to be less and less, and if possible more and more recycled. The UK comes in the middle of the EU spectrum, with 55% still going to landfill. On the other hand, Germany, the star performer succeeds not only because it recycles 65% of the waste but because it incinerates the other 35%. It's got a much greater incineration capacity than most coutnries, and uses this to generate energy as well. But I wonder how green this really is - producing more carbon dioxide? And how acceptable such a solution would be to public opinion in the UK where planning of incineration plants run the gauntlet of local groups who believe that they poison the atmosphere.