SME’s are often worried about procurement and tendering for work. It can be a daunting process and one that places a disproportionate amount of risk upon the supplier. The Government have recognised this in its latest paper, ‘Onerous Practices in Procurement and Contracting’. The Crown Commercial Service, the Governments procurement arm, states that this risk transfer is not acceptable. It has published guidance to try to reduce the imbalance.
Buying organisations, including local authorities, NHS and government agencies, will need to do the following:
Conduct effective pre-market engagement – this is a critical part of the procurement process and is this engagement is permitted under procurement law. Pre-market engagement is common practice for many larger companies and often leads to disenfranchisement within SME’s because there is a belief that most contracts are ‘sewn up’. The reality is that SME’s can take part in pre-market engagement too, it is just knowing how and when to do it. It is also important to choose the right contracts to pursue, especially for a SME.
Ensuring accurate and reliable data is available. One of the most difficult aspects for an SME is the inability to accurately gauge workload when dealing with public sector contracts. There is now an obligation to reduce the inaccuracy of data.
Put in place mechanisms for identifying and managing risks. This is particularly important where a contract is broken up in to lots. SMEs can be brushed off because of overzealous risk management from the contracting authority. The new guidance redresses this by ensuring that risks should be considered and proportionate.
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