Monday, 7 March 2011

Small businesses to take on the procurement giants

Post Ken Thompson

There will be many interiors and lifestyle businesses in the West Midlands fired up by what David Cameron had to say in his ‘Enemies of Enterprise’ speech at the weekend.

Included in his broadside were “the public sector procurement managers who think that the answer to everything is a big contract with a big business and who shut out millions of Britain's small- and medium-sized companies from a massive potential market.”

"We're throwing open the bidding process to every single business in our country - a massive boost for small businesses, because we want them to win at least a quarter of these deals."

David Cameron at the Conservative Party Spring Conference in Cardiff, Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

In practical terms one of the best ways small businesses can access these contracts is not by themselves but in collaboration with other complementary businesses. Such collaborations are often referred to as Virtual Enterprise Networks due to their ability to provide small businesses with pay-as-you-need virtual resources.

Historically, however, these collaborative groups have found it difficult to win government contracts due to risk adverse procurement regulations and procurement managers who favour large vertically integrated suppliers.
These are the issues: liability, insurance, trading history, networked supply chains etc that must be addressed if this initiative is to really deliver for small businesses.

If you have ideas for possible collaborations in the West Midlands or want to find out how Interiors & Lifestyle Futures can help you form successful bidding collaborations, please contact: Iain Acton t: 0121 331 7922 e: or
Navin Sood t: 0121 331 7924 e:

For more details of David Cameron's speech see Nicholas Watt's Guardian report
Learn more about the type of collaborations described above in Ken Thompson's The Networked Enterprise.