techUK Poll Finds SMEs Frustrated At Lack Of Progress With Government Procurement

Nov 10, 2015

The trade body representing the voice of the UK technology supplier sector says the government needs to pull its socks up when it comes to helping smaller vendors get a fair chance of public sector contract work.

techUK has just published a new study that, in its words, tries to "make the case" for British SMEs.

And the verdict? Based on the feedback of the 170-plus firms polled, the government is said to be "on the right track" - but that more needs to be done.

On the plus side, late payments was ranked of least concern as a barrier to entry, despite government focus in this area. Instead, SMEs clearly called for initiatives to target the onerous procurement process (67%), risk averse culture (59%) and onerous terms and conditions (33%).

There is strong support for Whitehall bosses' target to award 33% of procurement spend, both directly and indirectly, to SMEs, with 90% of respondents supporting the idea, which is well above the Coalition's 25% aim.

"Collectively, we have an opportunity to build on the good work of the last five years, and deliver the innovation and transformation that Government is looking for whilst also helping dynamic British based SMEs to scale and grow," the study says, noting that G-Cloud has been particularly well received by smaller suppliers: 80% said it had helped them access the market.

'Lack of awareness'

However, the survey highlights there is more to do if that 33% target stands any chance of being met. There is widespread concern that public sector commissioners are not making sufficient use of all the tools at their disposal, for example, with 86% of respondents demanding civil servants need to make more of the Digital Marketplace.

There is also a claimed "lack of awareness" of the initiatives such as Mystery Shopper and Contracts Finder that were set up by former Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and his then team to aid smaller suppliers between 2010 and 2015.

Skills and culture remain a barrier to adoption, too, with 96% of respondents worried that public sector procurement teamd don't have a good understanding of how SMEs can meet their needs.

For Naureen Khan, Associate Director – Public Sector at the group, the results show that, "The UK is benefiting from a new wave of tech entrepreneurship and there are now more opportunities than ever before for small and growing firms to access the government's billion pound public sector procurement market.

"Our survey confirms government is on the right track; SMEs are overwhelmingly positive about the Government's new target and G-Cloud is the clear 'star of the show. However, there is more work to be done. The next phase needs to focus on raising awareness and use of important tools such as G-Cloud, Contracts Finder and Mystery Shopper.

"Government and industry need to work together to enable and support better collaboration through the supply chain."

Let 24n help

Here at 24n, we have launched two special editorial streams to spotlight just these experiences.

If you have applied to G-Cloud 7, we can help you voice any feedback about the experience in our Digital Marketplace Contenders slot, for example.

And if you are a supplier - of any size - working in the Marketplace who has an issue to air, we have our new Life In The Digital Marketplace format.

Contact us here to see if we can profile your company's experiences - good and bad - as a way to help the market in general... and see if we can get that 33% target reached!

(c) 2015 IT Sensei

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