Historically Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) have faced a range of barriers in accessing procurement opportunities and in winning contracts. These barriers include: contracting authorities being unaware of SMEs and the types of goods and services they can potentially provide; SMEs viewing the procurement process, often rightly, as overly bureaucratic; SMEs not having the capacity to bid for opportunities and compete with large business; and the process of procurement often being undertaken on the basis of cost thus ruling out the ability of SMEs to demonstrate their wider value.
Whilst these barriers still exist, the European Procurement Directives of 2014 have a specific focus on supporting SMEs to engage with procurement processes. There is a specific emphasis upon: contracting authorities simplifying the process of procurement; contracting authorities breaking opportunities down into smaller lots; and reducing the levels of turnover required to participate in tendering exercise. At the last meeting of the Procure network held in Koprivnica, Croatia in March 2017, we wanted to explore how the above principles were translating into reality at the city level and what activities could be undertaken by cities to more effectively engage SMEs and local organisations in procurement. Collectively we identified 10 key ways which relate to common barriers:
This article was written by Matthew Jackson and first published by URBACT.
Matthew Jackson is the Lead Expert for the Procure network and the Deputy Chief Executive of CLES.
There has often been a misnomer that procurement processes cannot consider innovation in procurement and particularly criteria around economic, social environmental benefits because it contravenes the European Procurement Directives and specifically requirements around competitiveness. This misnomer has meant that procurers across Europe have often not considered innovation in procurement and have instead focused purely upon the cost of the product or the service being procured.
At the last meeting of the Procure Network in Albacete in December 2016, we explored how this misnomer could be overcome and particularly how social criteria could be built into the various stages of the procurement cycle. Indeed, the European Directives are now actively encouraging municipalities and others to utilise the process of procurement to achieve wider social and environmental goals and suggests three main ways of doing this.