How to sell to the Home Office?
Our Business Ops Izzie went to a Home Office webinar to find out what it takes to sell to them. Here's what she found out.
Crown Commercial Service (CCS) recently held a webinar with their top tips on how to sell to the Home Office – the various products and services the Home Office are looking to buy, and how you can stand out as a Supplier. Lucy Moody, the Commercial Manager at the Home Office, presented the webinar; she is also the SME champion helping to put the SME Action Plan into motion.
What is the SME Action Plan?
The SME Action Plan is the policy that the government have put in place to support their target of one third of its spend (£1 in every £3) on goods and services will be with SMEs, either directly or through the supply chain, by 2022. The Government’s aim is to also make it easier for SME’s to become a Government Supplier, by making application processes quicker and more straight-forward, and the contracts easier to access. The Action Plan is still a work in progress but is due to be finalised and published by the autumn time.
Home Office procurement types of contracts
The Home Office mainly purchase services through two different style of contracts; firstly, they have strategic services contracts – these are the high-value ones, including passport printing and delivery, systems that carry out checks at the boarders, and IT requirements for the Home Office staff, such as high-level software. They also have contracts for smaller purchases, which aren’t considered strategic, such as stationery, cleaning and interpreting.
How does the Home Office buy?
The Home Office are big advocates of frameworks like G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes and Specialists, as they are key to fulfilling their SME Action Plan. G-Cloud’s big range of suppliers is a huge attraction, but the main reason that G-Cloud is such a hit is the super speedy procurement process. The Home Office is also using Digital Outcomes and Specialists more and more – instead of outsourcing the software which they use, they have started to build their own. As the Home Office doesn’t have their own in-house developers, DOS is the perfect framework for this need.
The department also regularly use Contracts Finder to publish imminent opportunities as well as notices of ones to come later. As is the case across the public sector, the Home Office are legally obliged to publish their contracts on Contracts Finder. This is part of the reforms to make public sector procurement more accessible and transparent, particularly for SMEs. Since the 1st of May the prime sub-contractors to the Home Office are also obliged to publish any sub-contracting opportunities on Contracts Finder if they are worth over £25k. If there are no direct opportunities available, this would be another great way for Suppliers looking to sell to the Home Office.
The Home Office have several upcoming contracts, including holding and storage services, cooperate wear for the front-line staff and accommodation and support services for asylum seekers. Lucy Moody said that they always have IT requirements, which will mainly be put through the G-Cloud and DOS frameworks, but of course you will be able to find these contracts on Contracts Finder.
The main contract of interest is the requirement of second-line support for Data Officers at the boarders, which will include digitalising the boarder and bringing staff up to speed. This opportunity will only be available to Suppliers on the Technical Services 2 framework, which is currently mid-iteration.
If you are interested in getting more involved with the Home Office, then they do run Supplier networking events, also as part of the SME Action Plan. They are procurement-specific and will be advertised as an information note on Contracts Finder; when the Home Office are looking to buy something bespoke, these supplier and marketing events are set up before they launch the procurement.
The Home Office also lead an initiative for anyone in the security sector called Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC) – this was established to respond to both urgent and longer-term threats. It is made up of Private Sector and academia who work as a research body and test out new services that might be able to protect the public. JRaSC and the Home Office hold annual security and policing events which if of interested suppliers should definitely investigate.
The webinar acted as a helpful reminder that public sector departments like the Home Office are open for business, and especially open to working with more SME Suppliers. As long as you know how to engage with organisations and where to look for contracts (not to mention making sure you’re on the right frameworks!), your company could be partnering with one of the largest buying organisations in the public sector market.