The Ministry of Defence is the largest procurement organisation in central government, with an annual procurement budget of more than £20 billion each year. But 25% of that volume is with small to medium sized businesses in the UK, accounting for £4 billion identifiably flowing into the country’s SMEs.
In recent years we have made significant changes to our procurement approach, most importantly changing our policies, processes and technology to make it easier for businesses to engage and work with defence. We have also made a positive effort to open up many more of our ongoing projects to make them accessible to SMEs and to attract new business into our supply chain.
Perhaps one of the easier ways to take advantage of the government’s defence project opportunities is to look to become part of that supply chain, working with larger businesses which have perhaps traditionally worked more closely with the MoD and its projects. We work closely with our larger more strategic suppliers to draw non-traditional defence suppliers in to the sector and help them make that initial contact with innovative smaller companies. We have reached out through stakeholder groups like NDI to make those contacts, before working to embed them into our processes.
The MoD has also been making changes to payment to help ensure that smaller suppliers are paid promptly if they come into the defence supply chain. It is now part of our selection process that suppliers need to demonstrate and report that they are prompt payers of those companies which supply into them.
To make recognising and accessing potential opportunities easier for SMEs we have an easy-to-access portal which details the opportunities in the defence sector currently; this explains how to respond to those opportunities and we have advisers on hand to talk companies through potential projects and how best to go about making their interest known.
In addition, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Champions have been appointed within our strategic suppliers, and their role is to help shape our strategy for engagement with SMEs. NDI, and our other trade associations, work with us to further help forge these vital contacts, and we run workshops where we help get SMEs in front of the Primes so they can break through and open up the unique opportunities within this sector. As part of the Conference Workshop, we will be exploring current opportunities and the best way to make those first steps into the defence sector to create new and lucrative business relationships to help Britain’s small and medium-sized companies, from across the UK, get a bigger slice of the MoD pie.