As Defence Secretary Liam Fox outlined to industry at Farnborough 2010: “The current Defence programme is entirely unaffordable….The fiscal realities will unavoidably limit the amount of money the Government has available for Defence procurement in the years ahead.”
In other words, the forthcoming SDSR will mean cuts in defence spend and, since the MOD is looking to cut 25% of its current budget, those financial shockwaves will invariably be felt throughout the entire defence supply chain.
But what can your business to do to maximise business opportunities now?
1. Join a trade association or industry partnership
Trade associations like ADS and the National Security & Resilience Consortium not only bring you together with a host of like-minded companies, but they will also provide you with a collective voice, a voice that will be heard far more clearly in the corridors of Whitehall. An industry partnership like the UK’s Partnership for Profit Improvement also allows seemingly disparate companies to join together as one, offering tailor-made solutions to potential customers. If there’s a contract you want but part of it is something you don’t do, then perhaps another member of the partnership can help?
2. Invest! Invest! Invest!
Spending more when budgets are about to decrease may seem inherently wrong, but think hard about how you can add value to clients outside of core services. Invest in new technology and staff training; take advantage of grants and courses from national programmes like the Learning and Skills Council, Train2Gain and the National Physical Laboratory. You may not always be able to win on price, so make sure you can win on quality. This is what will allow companies to emerge stronger from the recession.
If you are a UK SME and haven’t yet been in touch with the UKTI DSO Small Business Unit (SBU), do it now. Join their Charter and let them help you open up the global marketplace. Charter members are able to treat the SBU as a ‘one-stop shop’ for all defence and security export-related matters. And best of all, it’s free. You can contact the head of the SBU, Howard Gibbs, on Tel: 020 7215 8204 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Be visible! Add your company’s details to a Supplier Database
Farnborough Aerospace Consortium (FAC), along with key partners West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF), Aerospace Wales, Northern Defence Industries (NDI) and Enterprise Europe Network, has recently launched the UK Aerospace and Defence Capabilities Database (ADCAP), an extensive database of aerospace and defence companies in the UK. You can find it at www.ukadcap.com. Elsewhere, the MOD Supplier Information Database, found at www.contracts.mod.uk, allows companies to add their details and capabilities onto an online form that is available to MOD buyers. In short, a supplier database makes your company, and your capabilities, far more visible to potential customers.
5. Search for new opportunities
If the defence market in the UK contracts as much as is expected, then companies will have to look elsewhere for business opportunities. Defense Contracts International (DCI) delivers contract information and market intelligence and is an essential tool for everyone in the global defense, emergency service and humanitarian aid marketplace. DCI is a comprehensive and up-to-date service covering all sectors of the defense industry. If you’re looking to win new business, then it’s a good place to start.
We would love to hear from you if you have any other suggestions. Just hit the comment button and share your ideas.