14th November 2019


Business intermediary groups, SME suppliers




To ensure that the strategic direction we are taking ensures we procure in a sustainable and responsible way and enables to use our spending power to support local economies across our network. We wanted to test our draft plan with our workforce, suppliers and external stakeholders to understand if our plans go far enough and what else we should be considering.

The workshop also aimed to help us to identify future opportunities to collaborate and inform our engagement programme for 2020/21.



You told us that our procurement processes are often confusing and laborious for SMEs and that they don’t always recognise the terms and language we use as a big corporate organisation.

We recognise we need to make our tender documents and procurement processes more flexible and SME friendly change so as part of our strategy, we are planning to create a guidance document for SMEs on how to tender and use e-procurement portals.

We will also include examples of best practice as part of the tender guide, simplify the language of the pre-qualifications questionnaire (PQQ).

During the workshop it became clear that SMEs do not always realise the extent of their sustainability performance and require guidance and support.

To make sure we can break down this barrier we are creating a guidance document for SMEs on how to tender which will include examples of best practice as part of the tender guide. We will also work collaboratively with business intermediaries in order to host ‘Meet the Buyer’ events to provide guidance to local SMEs on how to contract with NGN and enhance their sustainability performance.

There was high level support for our plans to establish a programme of “Meet the Buyer” events with offers from the FSB and the Chamber of Commerce to help promote these in order to help local SMEs contract with NGN. However, you said events must be contract specific, so participants can ask purposeful questions, and make the contract fit for purpose.

Taking this feedback on board we will aim to apply this approach to some of our upcoming tenders which will be picked from our 2020 Procurement Programme. We will also work closely with our business intermediary partners to help raise awareness of these events with SMEs from across our network and increase the opportunities for us to be more open and accessible to smaller businesses.

You told us the strategy was good but the proof was in the implementation and the delivery.

We are developing a tool to help us measure the progress we make against our strategic objectives. We will also develop a detailed Action Plan on how the Strategy is going to be delivered.

Download to Read our workshop report