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Local Contractors To Be Briefed On Enterprise Network's New Procurement Process

27th May 2003

Businesses providing either property construction or advisory services in the Highlands and Islands are being urged to attend seminars across the region intended to highlight changes in the way Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will be buying and delivering some services.

HIE is to adopt an approach called supply partnering, which consists of providing services, either for its clients or for the network itself, through a partnership approach with a number of key, strategic suppliers.
These suppliers will be selected following a competitive tendering exercise, and will work more closely and strategically with the network and its ten local enterprise companies. The changes will relate mainly to property construction, and the provision of advisory services to businesses and community organisations.

The successful strategic suppliers, whether for advice or property, will be responsible for almost all of that HIE activity within specified geographical areas. They will need to demonstrate a strong local understanding and capability to deliver the right quality of service across the whole of their area.

The benefits of partnership working have become increasingly well recognised in recent years, and particularly for property projects, it is now an accepted method of procurement for many public agencies including the Defence Estates, Scottish Water, the NHS, National Air Traffic Service and the Ministry of Defence.

The value of the HIE contracts which will be offered to the strategic suppliers means that invitations to tender must be advertised through the European journal, OJEC, a process which will begin towards the end of June - coinciding with the supplier seminars.

These events will try to ensure that small, locally based contractors in the Highlands and Islands are aware of the changes, and how they might affect their business.

HIE's director of growing businesses, Douglas MacDiarmid, said the new approach will help ensure better value for money and would provide an opportunity for the successful contractors and sub-contractors to develop their businesses.

"The principle here is to develop longer term, strong working relationships with the main suppliers who will help us to provide services to our clients," he said. "Taking this longer term approach to buying in some services will bring some real benefits. For the suppliers involved - and those working for them further down the supply chain - they will have the advantage of the stability which a longer contract provides. From HIE's point of view we will benefit from our suppliers' extra input into business planning, and their fresh approach to service delivery. We will also avoid the time-consuming and costly exercise of competitive tendering for the placing of every order - achieving better value for money.

"We recognise though, that while partnership working is well-established within the public and private sector, it is something of a new departure for ourselves and it may be new to our suppliers as well. For this reason, while our key contracts and working relationships will be with the strategic suppliers, we will continue to monitor how they engage with their sub-contractors, and where necessary we will work with those sub-contractors to help them develop their businesses to meet the needs of the larger, long term contracts."

The seminars are being held in Thurso (24th June), Inverness (25th), Stornoway (26th), and the following week in Kirkwall (1st July), Lerwick (2nd) and Oban (3rd). Businesses currently involved in, or interested in, the procurement of these services for the HIE network, are being encouraged to attend.

Details and registration forms are available from the HIE website at www.hie.co.uk/tenders.htm or from seminar organisers, Solas Business Services, on 01599 555403.

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