Lanarkshire Meet the "Real" Buyer Outcomes
On Tuesday, 30 November 2021, the Lanarkshire Meet the “Real” Buyer event was jointly hosted by both Lanarkshire Councils and the Supplier Development Programme (SDP) as a live virtual event. This online event allowed businesses to meet the procurement teams from public and private sector organisations and the “real” buyers in those teams who commission the contracts and identify the need for procurement works and services in the first place.
What happened on the day?
On the day of the event, businesses were able to learn how to engage with both Lanarkshire Councils’ procurement processes, how food and drink is procured by local authorities, and what both councils are developing in Lanarkshire for the construction industry:
- Both Lanarkshire Councils and SDP gave a joint presentation on how to engage with the councils’ procurement processes which included a live Q&A panel.
- Scotland Excel along with the Lanarkshire Councils also delivered a presentation on how local authorities procure food and drink.
- SDP along with a selected trainer panel hosted a Q&A on how to use PCS and how to bid better with the SDP.
- Suppliers learned how Lanarkshire are building for growth with a construction roundtable as well.
All presentations along with the live Q&A session can be found on the SDP YouTube Channel.
Prior to the event, there were 787 attendee bookings on the SDP website. On the day of the event, in total there were 108 participants and of these, 63 were unique SMEs/supported businesses based in Scotland.
On the Day Polls & Supplier Engagement
Several polls ran during the event’s live sessions, asking suppliers if the session had encouraged them to bid for more public sector contracts:
- 100% said the SDP Helping You Bid Better Workshop encouraged them to bid for more public sector contracts (10 questions/comments were also received) – 77 attendees.
- 95% said the How to Engage with Council Procurement Processes session with NLC & SLC Procurement encouraged them to bid for more public sector contracts (24 questions/comments received) – 121 attendees.
- 100% said the How do Councils local authorities procure food and drink? session with Scotland Excel encouraged them to bid for more public sector contracts (8 questions/comments received) – 67 attendees.
- 100% said the Building for Growth in Lanarkshire: Construction Roundtable with Live Q&A session encouraged them to bid for more public sector contracts (17 questions/comments received) – 75 attendees.
- 108 attendees also viewed the opening address from NLC & SLC Chief Executives.
- All attendees viewed the welcome from Cllr Brannan-McVey, Chair of the Supplier Development Programme; and
- Over the course of the day, there were 709 visits to exhibitions.
Supplier Survey Outcomes
An online survey was distributed to registered suppliers for the Lanarkshire Meet the “Real” Buyer 2021.
This survey was live between 30 November and 21 December. Within this time, responses were received from 68 respondents, with 48 of them being an SME, supported business or third sector organisation based in Scotland.
Highlighting that 71% of respondents were an SME or third sector organisation and therefore eligible for other SDP training.
The post-event survey highlighted that 95% of Scottish SMEs responding to the survey said they were more likely to bid for public contracts after participating in the event.
Supplier respondents from Scottish SMEs, supported businesses and third sector organisations rated the Meet the “Real” Buyer 2021: Live Virtual Event as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ for the following:
- Overall event experience – 92%
- Representation of “Real” public sector buyers and decision makers at the event – 89%
- Theme and messaging on being a Lanarkshire based “Real” Buyer event – 95%
Additionally, 94% of respondents thought the Meet the “Real” Buyer 2021: Live Virtual Event demonstrated that public sector procurement is open and transparent, despite challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was highlighted that 92% of suppliers also felt that area-specific events such as Meet the “Real” Buyer support business in the area they are based in. Additionally, 81% felt that their business could benefit from public sector procurement in the Lanarkshire area after participating in the event.
Some comments from suppliers included:
- “I am new to tendering and bidding and I gained excellent knowledge from this event.” (Micro-sized SME from Glasgow City)
- “I find the procurement pipelines that the local authorities issue are extremely helpful.” (Small-sized SME from North Lanarkshire)
- “At times the events can feel rushed but overall it ran smoothly and was good to be a part of.” (Medium-sized SME from North Lanarkshire)
- “Very engaging - keep up the good work.” (Small-sized SME from South Lanarkshire)
- “Great experience.” (Micro-sized SME from Glasgow City)
- One supplier who said that previous participation in SDP training/events had helped them to win public sector contracts also explained the community benefits they would provide on the framework they were currently on: “Placements for unemployed and school leavers, volunteering in the Community.” (Small-sized SME from South Lanarkshire)
As the public sector is still continuing to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, SDP was interested on suppliers thoughts on how 'Meet the Buyer' type events should continue in the year 2022. The survey showed that:
- 52% of suppliers would like events to return to in-person.
- 35% would like future events to be in a hybrid format.
- Only 13% would like events to remain virtual.
Net Zero Outcomes
With such an emphasis on COP26 at the beginning of November, the questions relating to Net Zero showed that an increasing number of suppliers are also realising the importance of Net Zero targets for their own business:
- Nearly all respondents (98%) were aware of the Scottish Government’s commitment to achieving a Net Zero society.
- Half of businesses (50%) said that reaching Net Zero targets/reducing carbon was a priority now in 2021 and 48% said it was a priority for their business in the future (2021 and beyond).
- Only 2% of respondents said it was not a priority for them.
- 71% of suppliers said they had an existing policy to support reaching Net Zero targets; and
- Three-quarters (75%) of suppliers also said they had an implementation plan to reduce its carbon footprint.
Additionally, the three most common actions taken by Scottish SME businesses to reduce carbon/reach Net Zero were:
- Using sustainable suppliers and supplies – 65% of businesses
- Raising awareness and knowledgeability of cleaner, greener, and sustainable practices – 65%
- Installed LED lighting – 60%
Exhibitor Survey Outcomes
An online survey was also distributed to those registered exhibitors at the Lanarkshire Meet the “Real” Buyer event. In total, 20 responses were received.
The survey highlighted that 90% of exhibitors would recommend this type of event to other public sector buyers – with some exhibitors commenting that:
- “I think this is such a good link for the supply chain to meet and discuss opportunities and to be honest SDP have been able to provide this vital link throughout the pademic.”
- “I believe it is always useful to have these lines of communication available so that all parties are aware of each others needs.”
- “This opens up markets for SME's to give them more experience and information on procurement routes and opportunities to get involved locally.”
- “It’s a good opportunity to enhance understanding between commissioners and suppliers.”
Additional responses from those exhibitiors showed that:
- 85% of exhibitor responses agreed that this event helped to drive early engagement with SDP member organisations to support an increase of public sector contracts being accessible to Scottish SMEs.
- 90% agreed that it had also extended SDP engagement with public sector buyers to ensure SME benefit from local contracts.
- 90% of buyers and exhibitors said the event helped to benefit SMEs as they could talk to the real buyers from organisation; and
- 80% thought the event had helped raise the profile of SDP to be recognised as the primary tender training programme to support SMEs and third sector in Scotland.
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