The government is always looking for ways to appear to be spending money with SMEs. They have a plan that £1 in every £3 will be spent with smaller businesses by 2020. The Digital Marketplace has a dedicated area for outlining what portion of money has been spent with SMEs. They have released some guidelines that smaller business have to adhere to if they want to win government work. As an SME we sometimes find it hard to compete on all these levels, larger businesses already adhere to these principles and have the staff that they need to create policy documents to prove that’s the way that they work. Smaller businesses of course can work this way too, but do it just because it’s ingrained into their ethos, not something that was written once and is then rarely looked upon.
It’s hard for small business to compete when it takes such a long time to get even a toe in the door. To get listed as a supplier on the digital marketplace through G Cloud 6 in 2014 was an arduous task for us as a micro business. There were 13 documents to read through and understand, and for someone with little experience at the time, this was no mean feat.
I read later on the Digital Marketplace blog that this took the equivalent of nine working days just to read through it all, let alone digesting and filling out the relevant parts.
Since then, the process has dramatically improved, there is no longer duplication of effort, (you used to have to sign on two different platforms and enter reference numbers from one or the other!) so we will be relisting Healthy Hive on G Cloud 9 when it goes live later this year.
We’ve jumped through a lot of hoops in the attempt to win work; lengthy procurement processes and indeed listing ourselves on the Digital Marketplace, but we are yet to receive any work in this way. Instead for 2017 we are going to mainly stick with what has worked for us so far, word of mouth, working on existing relationships and over-delivering when we can to show we can too, provide that extra added value. And of course back that up with our investment into maintaining ISO27001 certification, continued work in the education sector through apprenticeships, training in the charity sector, and more generally, involving ourselves in the local tech scene.
Projects we over delivered on in 2016:
- Refreshed a client's front facing website free of charge (with the help of a work placement student.)
- Ran a CMS training for a community interest company
- Maintained continuity in service for company going through a bereavement
- Investigated a virus on a charity website free of charge