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Procurement methods make it 'virtually impossible' for SMEs

A STUDY by the Office of Fair Trading earlier this year on the £14 billion IT procurement market in the UK found it was "not working as well as it should", with high entry barriers and little switching between suppliers.

Lanarkshire IT company NVT revealed in 2011 that while itself and another medium-sized company Dacoll, based in Bathgate, had come out first and second in a government tender that used more traditional pro-curement methods in 2010, they both were excluded from a similar opportunity that was run through a "managed services framework".

The scoring mechanism for large-scale contracts made it "virtually impossible for SMEs to compete," said Stephen Park Brown, NVT's boss.

And despite a separate lot for small-scale contracts being created, it was still won by the same multinational corporations.

Mr Park Brown also cited how NVT had lost a council computer maintenance contract worth almost £30,000 because it had been offered to 10 companies in a framework - nine of whom were global giants without any local capability. He said: "A smaller company will probably end up with the work - but as a sub-contractor, and at a higher cost to the council."

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