As part of the MOD’s 2016 SME Policy Refresh, the Supply Chain Advocate initiative was created to improve the MOD’s engagement with suppliers. The MOD wish to open up the procurement process to potential suppliers of all sizes, making it easier for all potential suppliers (and smaller businesses in particular) to identify new opportunities in defence, and to be able to compete for these opportunities on a level playing field.
Steven Morgan, MOD Commercial Director, has been appointed as the Department’s Supply Chain Champion, with responsibility for driving this initiative forward. As part of the initiative he has put in place a network of Supply Chain Advocates working across the MOD to help both the suppliers but also to ensure that new suppliers are also sourced.
techUK members can access an MOD leaflet containing the contact information of the Advocate Network. This document is available for download at the bottom of the page.
What will the Supply Chain Advocates do?
The Supply Chain Advocate will act, not only as a contact for suppliers, but also as a “matchmaker” service for prospective suppliers, and as a champion for best commercial practice across the MOD.
The MOD Supply Advocates will be there to support the following tasks:
· Joining the needs of MOD with the services of prospective suppliers
· Advocating competition across MOD and being able to identify and challenge instances of non-competitive contract renewal and unnecessary single-source procurements
· Being available to attend early market events and being able to share knowledge and good practice across MOD
· Recognising and replicating best practises and behaviours
· Requesting feedback from suppliers when they believe barriers are preventing them from doing business within the supply chain
In order to deliver their commitments, the MOD Supply Advocates aim to:
· Compete as much MOD business as practicable, and encourage competition throughout the supply chains for all MOD funded programmes – not just single source procurements.
· Seek additional information on supply chain activity with current suppliers through direct and continued engagement using the DSF Executive Group.
· They will identify opportunities to improve their own Commercial Policy, and remove unnecessary bureaucracy. Suppliers are being encouraged to share examples of unhelpful policy and practice with the Advocates to help them improve their approach.
· MOD are launching a new online Supplier Portal that will signpost procurement opportunities and also provide useful information including links to relevant supporting bodies, policies, research establishments and funding streams. MOD expect this portal to be launched in late spring 2017.
Following the launch of the initiative in 2016 the Supply Chain Advocate network has struggled to settle into the established structure of the Front Line Commands and the other areas of MOD wishing to deepen their engagement with SMEs. The demands for engagement that come from all corners of the defence industry are inevitably very wide and it is not feasible to expect one or two people from each area to cover the totality of industry requests.
Rather than requiring that task to be completed techUK would prefer to see the Advocates becoming a central node within their command or area, effectively signposting industry enquiries to the subject matter expert (whether that be for programme and project information, R&D opportunities, technical queries, or other questions). Information sharing about capability requirements and potential efficiencies between programmes is a perennial problem within MOD. Creating a number of role specifically designed to assist industry navigate between these gaps may in fact help close them.
techUK is incredibly keen to work with the advocate network going forward and help the initiative engage with the digital industries. We will be offering MOD the opportunity to meet with our members to discuss the unique challenges that the digital industries face, and to create a set of requests that our members would expect the advocates to be able to help them with.