SME engagement within the MOD logistics transformation
Team Leidos was awarded the Ministry of Defence Logistic Commodities and Services Transformation
(LCST) contract in 2015 with a brief to support the transformation of the UK’s defence supply chain.
A key element of this transformation is the fundamental role played by the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to supply UK troops at home and abroad, equipping them with everything they need to do their jobs.
Since 2015, the LCST programme has successfully delivered over £1 billion worth of products to the UK military using leading procurement techniques and strong governance, with an effective process of engaging the market and driving equal opportunity to all suppliers across the commodity sectors of Food, Fuel, Medical, General Supplies and Clothing. That means getting everything, from rations to boots, exactly where they need to be, at the right price and at the right time.
The LCST programme is committed to making it easier for new suppliers to engage with tender opportunities. At the start of the contract, LCST inherited 182 Commodity Contracts. We have since re-let over 100 contracts and these, coupled with our off-contract arrangements, have seen our use of SME suppliers grow to just under 50% of the MOD’s total commodity supply chain. In addition, since the start of the programme, nearly six in ten of new on-contract suppliers are SMEs, ensuring the widest possible competition and innovation for contracts and customers.
The shift towards using SMEs as part of the LCST supplier base has been consciously driven using a number of techniques.
This starts with our pre-tender supplier engagement, including Bidders Conferences, where we aim to make our process as transparent and simple as possible through education and information. Our eProcurement specialists attend to explain how to use the eSourcing tool, Emptoris, and where to find the guides that are available to support bidders.
All LCST supply opportunities are advertised on Contracts Finder and Tenders Electronic Daily and future opportunities are highlighted on the Leidos Supply Limited portal. For more specialist requirements, advertisements are placed in the trade press, such as The Grocer, ensuring the widest possible engagement.
Tender documentation has been reviewed and simplified to ensure that bidders only need provide information that is really required, meaning that bidders spend less time and resource completing tenders; it also supports the end-to-end tender process being run to appropriate timescales, reducing costs throughout the process. In addition, a new layer of internal governance at three key stages of our process has been created, known as the Contract Approval Board. Board members from across Team Leidos sit on the Contract Approval Board and assess our commodity procurement plans at the strategy, tender issue and proposed award stages, ensuring that there is a focus on achieving the programme’s objectives of simplification, wider market engagement and innovation, as well as compliance with all relevant standards and regulations.
Within the scope of LCST, several bespoke items of supply are required. Due to the specialised nature
of these items, this is an area ideally suited to micro businesses. Many of these suppliers have held these contracts for many years and are proud to be associated with serving the UK military. Examples include contracts with Deluxe for VVIP In-Flight Catering for RAF Squadrons 32, 10 and 101 which serve the Royal and Cabinet Office Flights. Other examples of specialist suppliers within LCST include Schneider for cavalry jackboots – serving the Queen’s Horsemen; Kashket & Partners manufacturing uniforms for the Queen’s Guard; and Firmin & Sons for military badges, buttons and ceremonial helmets and cuirasses.
It is small businesses like these that are at the very heart of the UK military’s supply chain, and with the LCST programme that role will continue to grow.
This article was originally published in the MOD Guide 2019.