SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member,

Many thanks to those members who have already paid their 2016 membership fee. I would ask all others to please remit their 2016 subscriptions as soon as possible. There are a range of payment options available.

In this week's ezine we present the advantages and disadvantages of performance related pay and detail the progress report of the High Level Group on SME Access to Public Procurement.

Throughout 2016, the SFA will offer training programmes tailored to small firms at affordable prices, view the schedule for 2016. Book now for a one-day 'Performance management and appraisal skills' programme in Dublin on 28 January.


Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different government support available to small businesses, in this edition we bring you details on the Tendor Advisory Service which provides rapid responses to queries and complaints about live tenders. 

If you missed last week’s webinar on government supports for small business you can watch it back on our website. 

Book your place at the first SFA / Vodafone Speed-Networking event of the season kicking off in Limerick on 28 January. The National Small Business Showcase event is on 1 February where the finalist companies in the SFA National Small Business Awards will be exhibiting. This event is free to attend and is open to the public with keynote speaker Rasmus Ankersen, who recently spoke at the Pendulum Summit. We also provide a summary of recent press coverage

As always, we’d love to hear from you about any queries you may have, issues you wish to have raised with Government or other stakeholders and your ideas on how we can improve the business environment for us all. Please contact me directly at tel: 01 605 1602 or 

e-mail: patricia.callan@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit www.sfa.ie.


Kind Regards,

Patricia Callan
SFA Director


NEWS
SFA membership subscription 2016
 
Firstly, can I thank you for your continued membership and support, it’s very much appreciated. We hope that your business is benefitting from being part of the Small Firms Association...

Firstly, can I thank you for your continued membership and support, it’s very much appreciated. We hope that your business is benefitting from being part of the Small Firms Association.

We work to influence the commercial environment on your behalf, ensuring that small business is kept at the heart of government policy-making and delivering tangible wins for your organisation. 

We continue to invest in the high level of service members require, and encourage you to make use of our expert advice services, along with the extensive networking and sales opportunities we provide for you to other members, through our events and members web portal on www.sfa.ie.

2016 membership invoices were issued by post in December 2015 and you have a range of payment options. 

You have the option of paying by direct debit by making a once off or recurring (monthly/quarterly) payment. Please visit www.sfa.ie/directdebit where you can submit your details electronically. 

Alternatively, you may choose to pay your membership fee in full by cheque, electronic transfer or online at www.sfa.ie/invoice. 

The SFA bank details are:

Bank  -  Bank of Ireland

Bank Address  -  2 College Green, Dublin 2

Account Name  -  SFA / Ibec

Bank Account  -  10025922

Sort Code  -  90-00-17

BIC  -  BOFIIE2D

IBAN  -  IE97BOFI90001710025922

Vat Number  -  IE 0051524W

From Wednesday, 10 February 2016, all individual company passwords to www.sfa.ie will no longer enable you to log on to the members only area of the website.  This will only be re-enabled on receipt of subscription.

The advantages and disadvantages of Performance Related Pay
 
Performance Related Pay (PRP) provides individual employees with financial rewards linked to an assessment of their work performance, such as: sales commission, bonuses for reaching targets, piecework payments or financial profit sharing...

Performance Related Pay (PRP) provides individual employees with financial rewards linked to an assessment of their work performance, such as: sales commission, bonuses for reaching targets, piecework payments or financial profit sharing.

A performance related pay system can have its advantages and disadvantages. Some SFA members will praise its ability to focus employees on their goals and believe that the financial incentive encourages their teams to reach targets. Other members will feel that performance related pay is often poorly managed and can be a de-motivator which causes a pressurised and money driven culture. A recent SFA survey outlined some advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages

  • Managers can use a defined framework for setting goals. It should improve individual productivity and performance
  • Employees are more likely to focus on what they need to do to improve if this is directly linked to pay
  • A good PRP system will reward the best performers
  • It is an effective way of dealing with poor performance
  • Rewarding high performance can assist in retaining staff
  • It provides a direct incentive for employees to achieve defined work targets
  • The contribution an employee makes is recognised with a tangible reward
  • A healthy performance based culture can be developed with its introduction

Disadvantages

  • Employees can be de-motivated if the goals set are too hard to achieve
  • Too much of the process relies on the quality of judgement made by a manager
  • It reduces pay equity and can make a company liable to costly equal pay challenges if not operated fairly
  • The performance appraisal process can be affected detrimentally because of the focus on financial reward rather than developmental needs
  • Team spirit and co-operation can be hindered
  • As reward is made for a short-term quantifiable goal, it can be too narrowly focused
  • There is a danger that employees can expect an additional payout year on year. In a low inflation climate the rewards might not appear to be that great

The SFA have published a guideline on performance related pay and its implementation. This guideline outlines the concept of performance related pay and further examines advantages and disadvantages of this type of scheme. It also considers the steps necessary for the introduction of a performance related pay scheme and explores other issues arising from the introduction of such a scheme. 

For advice on the topic, or if you are thinking of implementing performance related pay, contact Jonathan Callan, SFA Executive on 01 605 1668 or jonathan.callan@sfa.ie

SFA launches 'Train to Gain' training courses for small firms
 
The SFA has launched a suite of training programmes tailored to small firms which will take place around the country throughout 2016. There are courses on project management, customer service, employment law, people management, credit management and employment law - all at special rates to allow small companies to participate...

Half of all companies fail in the first five years – an alarming statistic that may seem overwhelming to many starting out in business. Studies show, however, that this failure rate could be reduced by half through investment in management capacity.

Training and upskilling are not only issues for new companies. Overall, Irish domestic firms rank second last internationally for management practices.

In this context, the Small Firms Association is delighted to launch a suite of training programmes tailored to small businesses.

In the SFA Training Survey conducted in September 2015, you responded in large numbers to identify the skills that you and your employees need to make your business more efficient, sustainable and successful. Throughout this brochure you will find courses designed specifically to address these needs.

Thank you to those who took the time to complete the survey. Based on your feedback, the courses are short and a choice of dates and locations are available. The programmes are offered at special rates that make it realistic for small companies to participate.

Full details of all courses are contained in the SFA 'Train to Gain' brochure. You will find information on training for you and your employees in project management, customer service, employment law, people management, credit management and tendering, among other topics. The courses are available in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, as well as online from your home or office. Bookings can be made via www.sfa.ie/events or by phoning Alexandra on 01-6051675.

On 28 January, the training year will kick off with a one-day programme on Performance Management and Appraisal Skills. This is a must for the people managers within your business to help you get the most from your employees and deal with any performance issues. Bookings can be made here.

 

Rapid responses to queries and complaints about live tenders
 

Spotlight on the Tender Advisory Service, a free service which provides quick responses to queries relating to tenders, allowing you to submit the best possible tender before the deadline. This article provides information on the service and advice on how to avail of it... 


There are over 80 different government supports available to small businesses but many of them are not well known or understood. Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different support that could improve your business, giving you information and advice.

#10 Tender Advisory Service

What?

An outlet for suppliers to raise concerns in relation to a live tender process carried out by the Office of Government Procurement or other public body.

The Tender Advisory Service (TAS) liaises with potential suppliers and contracting authorities to clarify or query tender documentation. It makes suggestions to contracting authorities on how to resolve the issues before the closing date for the tender.

Why? 

The SFA and other organisations have highlighted the difficulties that small companies face in competing for public contracts. The TAS is designed as an easy-to-access service to answer queries and provide clarifications to these companies. In most cases, a response is provided within three days, giving support to potential applicants while the tender is still open.

How?

If you have a query or complaint in relation to a Request for Tender (RFT) that has been published by the Office of Government Procurement or other public body, the first step is to avail of the query/clarification option detailed in the RFT.

If you are not satisfied with the response, or you have not received one, you can contact the TAS. This is done by filling out the short Standard Enquiry Form and emailing it to the TAS (tenderadvisoryservice@ogp.gov.ie) – any relevant correspondence with the contracting authority should be included. The TAS can also be contacted by phone on 076 100 8000.

Following their review, the TAS may answer the query directly, direct more complex questions to the contracting authority for a reply to be issued to all interested parties or suggest improvements/changes to information contained in the tender documentation.

Tips 

If you are interested in applying, don’t forget:

  • The query must relate to a live tender. The RFT must be published and the company must have registered as an interested party.
  • The latest an interested party can contact the TAS is six days before the closing date for receipt of tenders. However, the earlier the query is submitted the better.
  • The service is free of charge.
  • The TAS is an informal service. It does not have the right to investigate or instruct or overturn a decision by a contracting authority but, in accordance with best practice, the contracting authority should comply. Availing of the TAS does not affect your access to the Remedies Legislation.
  • If the TAS requires more than 3 days to respond, it may propose for the closing date for receipt of tenders to be extended.
  • TAS will ensure that any enquiry that a supplier has made will be handled in good faith and will not be used to disadvantage the supplier in the future.

**Tendering training for small firms**

The Small Firms Association has partnered with Go-2-Tender to offer a number of workshops to those interested in tendering – from complete beginners to more experienced tenderers looking to improve their success rate.

The Go-2-Tender Lite programme is a FREE one-day course for those that want to know where to start. It is available in Dublin on 15 March and in Cork on 13 September. Please contact linda.barry@sfa.ie to register.

The Go-2-Tender Workshop is a two-day course with one-to-one mentoring for those looking to hone their tendering skills. The cost is €100 and it is available in Dublin on 18 and 25 February. Register at www.gototender.com/courses

Progress Report of the High Level Group on SME Access to Public Procurement
 

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Public Procurement, Simon Harris T.D., and Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash, T.D., launched the Office of Government Procurement’s Progress Report of the High Level Group on SME Access to Public Procurement... 


Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Public Procurement, Simon Harris T.D., and Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash, T.D., launched the Office of Government Procurement’s Progress Report of the High Level Group on SME Access to Public Procurement on 7 January.

The report was produced by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP), in conjunction with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Welcoming the report, Minister Harris said:

“This is further evidence of the Government’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that SMEs secure their share of valuable public procurement. We are aware of the importance of this sector to the economy and their role in creating jobs right around the country. 

In 2013, the Office of Government Procurement, in conjunction with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, established a High Level Group on SME Access to Public Procurement. The Government currently spends in the region of €8.5 billion on goods and services each year, in addition to approximately €3.5 billion spent on public works.  This represents important opportunities for SMEs who access public procurement. Our commitment to ensuring SME participation in these opportunities led to the establishment of the High Level Group.  The High Level Group is focused on the establishment of strategies and policies which continue to support SMEs in accessing public procurement opportunities.”   

Commenting on the report, Minister Nash said:

“We are delighted to be centrally involved in the work of the High Level Group and to now have an evidence base for the work. SMEs account for 99.7% of all enterprises and 68% of employment in the Irish economy.  SMEs are vital to our continued national economic recovery, as they provide and create employment.  The High Level Group on SME Access to Public Procurement has been working to develop and monitor strategies to support SMEs accessing public procurement, including tendering skills development and Meet the Buyer events”.

Download a copy of the report .

Webinar playback
 
Playback a webinar delivered by SFA Director, Patricia Callan on 'the what, where and how of grants, loans, tax savings and other government supports.' 
On 21 January 2016, SFA Director, Patricia Callan delivered a webinar on 'the what, where and how of grants, loans, tax savings and other government supports.' 

Small businesses are missing opportunities to avail of government supports for their business due to lack of information and confusion. Understanding what supports your business qualifies for, where to apply for them and how to avoid some common pitfalls could be the key to sustaining your business or taking it to the next level. 

You can playback the webinar and also access a copy of the presentation on our website.
EVENTS
Speed-networking - Limerick
 
  • Thursday, 28 January, 6:00pm - 8:30pm

The SFA, in partnership with Vodafone, is delighted to host FREE Speed-Networking events, which will provide attendees with an amazing opportunity to have a series of 3-minute one-on-one meetings with a wide variety of companies, to begin to build new business contacts.

The first Speed-Networking Event of this season will be held in the Limerick Strand Hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick on Thursday, 28 January from 6:00pm to 8:30pm.

Speed-Networking allows people to discover in a very short space of time, common areas of interest, which can act as a basis for developing ongoing business relationships, be it finding new clients, accessing new audiences or meeting strategic business partners.

The facilitated Speed-Networking session will last for 1 hour, guaranteeing you 20 new business contacts and will be immediately followed by refreshments and the opportunity to follow-up with those contacts that are serious prospects or to meet more participants in an informal setting.

Event schedule

  • 6pm: Registration
  • 6:30pm - 7:30pm: Facilitated 3 minute Speed-Networking sessions
  • 7:30pm - 8:30pm: Informal networking and refreshments

 Each ‘meeting’ will last 3 minutes – when the whistle blows you will move to your next opportunity. Make sure to bring enough business cards, and also put a bit of thought into the message you want remembered!

Due to the nature of the event, overall numbers will be limited to 100, with a maximum of 2 people from the same company in attendance.

This event is free to attend but you must pre-register online.

Small Business Showcase
 
  • Monday, 1 February, 2:00pm - 7:30pm

As a showcase of positivity, this event will highlight the entrepreneurship, innovation and achievements of small enterprises in Ireland.

The exhibiting companies are all finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2016 and the event is open to the public.

Date: Monday, 1 February
Time: 2pm - 7:30pm
Venue: Radisson Blu, Golden Lane, Dublin 8

This is an opportunity to build relationships with award winning companies in a positive environment, see how they are doing and hear their hopes for the future.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Richard Bruton TD will attend the event in the afternoon and visit the companies who are showcasing. 

The keynote speaker at 6:30pm, kindly sponsored by Three is Rasmus Ankersen, best-selling author, entrepreneur, speaker on performance development and trusted advisor to businesses and athletes around the world. Rasmus recently spoke at the Pendulum Summit in Dublin, the world’s leading business and self-empowerment summit.

Event schedule

  • 2:00pm: Showcase opens
  • 6:00pm: Refreshments served
  • 6:30pm: Speaker presentations
  • 7:30pm: Showcase closes

The SFA Awards sponsors will also be available to meet and give advice; Enterprise Ireland, SEAI, Bord Bia, IE Domain Registry, Three, AIB, DHL Express, Energia and ManagementWorks.

The event is entirely free of charge to attend but you must pre-register online

View highlights from last year’s event.

SFA IN THE MEDIA
Press coverage

Zero hour and flexible working contracts, Action Plan for Jobs 2016, Small Business Awards, Paternity Leave, 2016 Election


Zero hour and flexible working contracts

On 20 January, SFA Director, Patricia Callan was interviewed on KFM and West Limerick 102FM on the use of zero hour and flexible working contracts. 


The Action Plan for Jobs 2016

The SFA issued a comment welcoming the Action Plan for Jobs 2016 launched by the Government on 18 January, but warned that labour costs and increasing employment regulation are the greatest threats to job creation. This featured in the Evening Echo on 21 January. 

SFA National Small Business Awards

The SFA Awards finalists featured in the Avondhu on 21 January and the Meath Chronicle on 23 January and one of the Awards finalists was interviewed on Newstalk's 'Down to Business' show on 24 January.

Paternity Leave

SFA Director, Patricia Callan commented on the introduction of the new paternity leave benefit in the Sunday Business Post on 24 January. 

SFA Launches its Small Business Priorities for the Election Campaign

On 25 January the SFA issued a press release calling for small business to be at the epicentre of Election 2016.

TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Performance management and appraisal skills for small firms
 
Throughout 2016, the SFA will offer training programmes tailored to small firms at affordable prices. Book now for a one-day 'Performance management and appraisal skills' programme in Dublin on 28 January...

WHY BOTHER?

  • Do you or your managers need to develop your performance management skills?
  • Would your business benefit from improved goal setting, more effective appraisals and employee feedback?
  • Would you like to develop your confidence in dealing with performance issues?

If you answered YES to any of these questions then this is the course for you!

TOPICS COVERED INCLUDE:

  • Managing performance and the employee lifecycle
  • Aligned performance management
  • The role of managers in performance management
  • Objectives and benefits of an effective performance appraisal system
  • Managing the appraisal interview: preparation, structure, style
  • Key communication skills in performance management
  • Delivering feedback to others and dealing with challenging people
  • Questions for appraisals
  • Managing poor and high performers

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Useful tools and techniques

Date: 28 January 2016
Time: 8:30am - 3:30pm
Venue: Ibec, 84/86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2
Member cost: €190 per delegate 

Book online now

FEEDBACK:

“A day well spent.”John Humphreys, General Manager, Filtertek