Our directors Barney Smith and Toby Rhodes led a team helping Defra to increase innovation in the development and delivery of ICT-enabled solutions to tackle rural and environmental challenges.

We did this through researching and engaging the SME marketplace, to enable collaborative exploration of challenges to increase spend with SME’s.

The Challenge

The Government had a target of 25% spend (both directly and indirectly) with SMEs by 2015, and expressed a view that 50% of new spend could be with SMEs (Information Economy Strategy 2013).

Defra had made excellent progress towards the 25% target, however progress for the ICT category is less advanced.

SMEs were seen to bring more innovation to delivery of services as they constantly reinvent themselves to compete in a rapidly evolving market. SMEs are also a major contributor to the economy (with 95% of businesses in the information economy sector employing fewer than 10 people)

The vision was agreed as:

  • Increase the use of SMEs in the ICT supply chain (direct and indirect) towards a target of 25% of spend
  • Leverage value into delivery of Defra network priorities, e.g. Rural Economy, through direct spend and leverage insight into innovation

What did we Deliver?

Actions broadly fell into 4 key themes:

  • Move from a Commercial to a Business discussion with better engagement, including engaging SMEs well before formal ‘Pre-Procurement’ phase
    • Eg Building on development of procurement processes to one based around sharing business challenges
    • Eg SME business workshops starting in the next few weeks
    • Eg inviting SMEs to engage through social media tools (Yammer)
  • Need to be better at promoting existing use and success of working with SMEs
    • Eg Use of Yammer, and other network wide sharing
  • System Integrators’s supporting SME agenda through service management and through their supply chain
    • Eg introducing IBM suppliers into the SME network
    • Eg opening up APIs and research to SME suppliers
  • Leveraging internal and external channels
    • Eg exploring opportunities identified through Environment Agency and through Intellect

Key Success

A number of examples of success and lessons learned were identified, including around improving the procurement environment (eg T&Cs and payment terms) as well as specific examples of SME engagement included:

  • SfW delivery to AHVLA.
  • NE & AHVLA Mobile App competitions
  • Fisheries: Delivering log book systems using local suppliers
  • IBM and Defra: Power management – cooling systems
  • Plant and Bee Health (FERA)

Why Perform Green?

Perform Green were able to deliver the right set of skills and experience to support such innovation in procurement and market engagement.

We Worked with the Client to:

  • Research and engage the SME Market
  • Engage key internal stakeholders and “problem owners”
  • Design and promote and facilitate a series of SME engagement events, bringing together internal stakeholders (problem owners and procurement specialists) with innovative SME businesses.
  • Create an atmosphere of trust and mutual cooperation, leading to a collaborative exploration of “the art of the possible”