Flagging Contracts to SMEsRecommendations first outlined in the Glover Report to help small businesses identify contract opportunities are now coming to fruition.

The Glover Report – Accelerating the SME Economic Engine states…

“Tendering opportunities thought especially suitable for SMEs or consortia of SMEs should be flagged by the procurer during the advertising process.”

Although this idea has been around for a while, the OGC have recently published a paper entitled  Small supplier big opportunity, Flagging your contracts to SMEs which follows on from the Glover Report’s recommendations and outlines the procedure to be adopted by purchasers in highlighting suitable opportunities for SMEs.

This is good news for SMEs and will be achieved by including appropriate text within the tender opportunity and, depending on the method of advertising, by highlighting the opportunity with a ‘flag’ symbol.

Now this doesn’t mean to say that SMEs should not bid on larger ‘non-flagged’ contracts, or indeed that larger firms cannot win ‘flagged’ opportunities – it is simply a visual indicator to help SMEs identify what’s best suited for them. It is not intended to give SMEs an advantage, but rather to level the playing field.

I’ve been going on about SMEs and thought it might be useful just to clarify what is meant by an SME – here’s the European Commission’s definition which you may find helpful.

How will this work in practical terms?
There are a number of stages in the procurement process at which the opportunity can be highlighted as suitable for SMEs. For example if the purchaser was using an electronic advertising portal or website they could simply indicate the opportunity was suitable while going through the advertising process and the system would then display the tender notice with the appropriate wording and flag symbol.

In principal I think this initiative will be welcomed by SMEs in helping them identify suitable opportunities. The concerns are more centred around purchasers flagging the opportunities correctly whilst adhering to openness and equality best practice.

So, the bottom line is…
–  Is it worth doing?
–  Do you think it will benefit suppliers?
–  Will it clarify opportunities or just merely lead to confusion?

I would like some of your feedback on this topic – why not post a comment with your thoughts..?

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