How can City of York Council procure work from small businesses easily, with less barriers and what ways can residents and businesses be proactive in approaching the Council with beneficial ideas and products?
At the moment, feedback from small businesses and the Federation for Small Businesses suggests that it is difficult for Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to bid for and manage contracts for Council services.
In bidding for contracts, SMEs find the paperwork and process of bidding bureaucratic and sometimes difficult to even know what contracts are being tendered. Another problem is the size of contracts that sometimes make it difficult for small local firms to access such opportunities.
In managing contracts, although the Council has a policy of payment in 10 days for local SMEs, for non-local SMEs, the policy is 28 days. Cash flow with SMEs is often quite tight, so such delays in payment can prove problematic for SMEs.
The Council has already implemented a number of improvements, but is looking to build on this progress where possible:
At the moment, there is a new web portal being developed by the Council as part of the new York Economic Strategy, as well as a Business Friendly Council initiative, of which this project is a key element. These initiatives are working to simplify the information and support available to businesses to access procurement, and the feedback received from the NESTA process.
What can we do?
We know that these problems affect businesses, particularly SMEs, and the community for and from which these services are procured. Opening procurement up to greater competition from SMEs will have a generally positive impact on smaller firms and in theory, through competition, produce better value for money in the goods and services received by the Council.
Your ideas on how we can tackle these problems and find solutions that aid local businesses are key.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
Provide a single contact point on the council website for any local firms looking to find out about contracts with the council. Each department doing their own thing makes for flexibility, but centralising procurement could save costs or could just increase bureaucracy. Need to find a happy medium that is readily accessible to local businesses. Andy
Homeshare international..? http://homeshare.org/default.aspx
What about an App? See http://ow.ly/1GIOfi
"The government has launched a new "app store" which it says will help small businesses offer IT services to the public sector.
The Cloudstore, as it will be known, will feature more than 1,700 apps provided by more than 250 suppliers.
It is hoped the service will allow organisations to purchase services on a "pay-as-you-go" basis, rather than be locked into lengthy contracts..."
As a small local business I welcome the interest in reforming the procurement process.
As far as IT goes at least I think the Council is missing a trick. Instead of buying in a big expensive package, why not engage in a more entrepreneurial way with software developers?
For instance I could see a possibility where we would offer to work to develop software for the council for about 20% of the actual cost of buying in, in return for 80% of the IP ownership and the option to sell the system on to other councils with similar need.
By reducing the cash input the council would probably avoid European Tender threshold values. There may even be the possibility of grant funding, R+D Tax credits etc.. And after a couple of sales the Council would have made money from the whole thing instead of paying out.
I'd be interested in finding out the Council's view on something like this and if it could form part of the strategy to help deliver services at lower cost.