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Framework deals demonstrate that size doesn't matter

SMBs can improve their performance if they take on framework working, believes Peter Bishop

Small businesses can dramatically improve their performance, increase profits and achieve greater customer satisfaction if they are willing to take on the challenge of framework working.

Local government spends a staggering £14 billion a year on construction. Increasingly more of this money is channelled through framework agreements, which can provide real opportunities for SMEs.

However, many SMEs are losing out on contracts simply because they think they are too small to compete with larger companies. But this is one time when size really doesn’t count.

Most local authorities are keen to do business with local SMEs, who have the advantage of lower overheads, flexibility and commercial nimbleness over their bigger rivals. More importantly they appreciate the role of small businesses in driving local economies.

Hampshire, for example, is creating a new framework modelled on its successful major works framework for projects worth up to £2.5 million, which is specifically aimed at SMEs.

Leeds is providing scope for 27 smaller builders and specialists to do a variety of jobs.

A recent report by the Local Government Task Force on construction, Taking Advantage: How SMEs Can Become Successful Framework Contractors, gives many more ways in which doors can be opened.

But SMEs must do their bit too. They must change their traditional ways of working to embrace the framework culture and must be willing to adapt to the same terms and conditions as the other team members.

This means working collaboratively with their clients and others in the supply chain - sometimes taking on specific projects, but also contributing to bigger schemes.

They must commit to improving the quality of their service and performance and measure themselves against key performance indicators.

Through training and accreditation, they must gain the necessary skills to operate in a collaborative environment.

This will take time and effort but the gains are enormous.