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How to become a supplier to large projects

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Small and medium-sized businesses enjoy huge benefits when they participate in large projects, such as Nova Scotia’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) and various other megaprojects around the country.

But how do you get involved?

BDC’s Chief Economist Pierre Cléroux offered nine supply chain management strategies for businesses wishing to participate as subcontractors or suppliers in a large-scale project.

The advice is based on a research on the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) value chains conducted by Duke University’s Center on Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness and other literature.

1. Identify top players

Determine the likely top-tier companies for each type of project. Top-tier companies are the integrators and general contractors that will report directly to the company responsible for executing and delivering the project.

2. Do your homework

Research and document the needs and requirements of the megaprojects you’re interested in participating in.

3. Register on contractor portals

This is business development at its most elementary level, but it’s an essential step in the process and many small and medium-sized businesses overlook it.

4. Standardize

Identify quality standards and certifications required to enter into the supply chains. Among such certifications, there is ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 14001 for environmental management.

5. Plan your capacity requirements

Understand what additional capabilities you need in order to participate or deepen your involvement in the supply chain.

6. Identify potential allies and partners

Consider forming joint-ventures with companies that have complementary offerings to yours so you can bid on larger pieces of projects.

7. Invest in your online presence

Make sure your website is up to date, clearly describes what your business does and provides your contact details. BDC research found that businesses are like consumers: they shop on the Internet. The first thing they do when looking for suppliers is to go online. If you’re not out there or, if your website is outdated, you’re likely to be overlooked.

8. Don’t underestimate the power of networking

Workshops, conferences, forums and trade shows offer excellent opportunities for business development. One third of large companies chose their suppliers and partners based on informal networking, including word-of-mouth and contacts made at industry events, according to the Duke University research.

9. Clearly communicate your product or service offering

You need to have a coherent communication approach across all your marketing channels including your website, social media and printed material. And don’t forget to communicate regularly with your employees. They are your company’s best ambassadors.

Small and medium-sized companies that plan ahead and do their homework stand to make the most of opportunities entering large projects offer.

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