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Feature SERCO Striving for excellence


Our SRM vision is for Serco to be recognised for its excellence in the engagement and management of its suppliers and is endorsed throughout the business. We want to become an organisation which is a leader in encouraging collaboration and improving the supplier experience, developing quality relationships and actively supporting SMEs. At Serco we view SRM as a way of delivering mutual benefits out of the relationships we already have. Fundamentally, understanding our supply chain can encourage innovation, operational efficiency, and avoidance of unnecessary activity, and maximise the potential of the customer/supplier relationship.


The mistake regularly made is limiting the scope of SRM. There is a temptation to focus on a certain number of strategic suppliers; however the value that can be tapped from broadening the approach is all too often missed and as such small business engagement has become a fundamental part of our approach to SRM.


Small businesses are the catalyst for innovation and growth in not only the nuclear industry but throughout the UK. Serco recognises the importance of stimulating growth within small businesses – in fact around 80% of our supply chain is made up of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In order to maximise the value from SMEs, it requires a great deal more than simply inclusion in the tender process. We need to listen to and work with our SME suppliers to allow them to maximise their potential.


Getting to know our small businesses


In order to understand the needs of the small businesses within our supply chain, 18 months ago we began by conducting a survey of 60 SMEs. This survey found that suppliers were enthusiastic and eager to find out more about our business but didn’t know how, and as a customer we weren’t doing a good job of listening to them. One of the actions that we took in response was to establish the Serco


Small businesses are the catalyst for innovation and growth in not only the nuclear industry but throughout the UK.


22 NuclearCONNECT


Working in partnership with suppliers is an ultimately rewarding experience – combining the power of a large business with the niche expertise of a small business...


Small Business Advisory Body (SSBAB), a working group of 11 suppliers who could advise us on the issues affecting small businesses and how we can support these. The SSBAB is chaired by Harish Natali, Managing Director of consulting firm Atmaana, who says, “The Serco Small Business Advisory Body gives suppliers a real voice within Serco. It is sponsored and has active participation from Serco’s senior management team. Since its inception we have been able to instigate a number of improvements that we know have made a real difference in how suppliers work with Serco. It is great to see such a large business doing something so innovative that has and will continue to deliver a stronger relationship and mutual benefits to Serco and its supplier base.”


Within the first year, through working with the SSBAB, Serco has developed internal guidance to ensure everyone within Serco understands the importance of listening to our small business suppliers. This includes ‘How We Work with Small Businesses’, which sets the expectation of treating our SME suppliers ethically, ensuring prompt payment and most importantly, ensuring open channels of communication.


Embedding trust and transparency


One of the members of the SSBAB, Adam Esposito from Unify Solutions, demonstrates how collaboration can unlock the true value of a relationship through trust and transparency. Serco and Unify have worked collaboratively since 2004. Unify and Serco’s relationship began when they were able to offer a unique and bespoke technology solution to our prison management contract. More than delivering financial benefits to both companies, Unify has played an integral part in supporting our small business journey. Adam demonstrates the success small businesses can have within Serco and as such has been instrumental in helping other small businesses to grow.


In addition to the business commitments associated with running an ever-growing business, Adam has been a key contributor to the successful initiatives run by the SSBAB, most recently a Serco Regional Networking Event. Unify shared with other small businesses their methods for growing a business within Serco, giving other suppliers practical advice for success. He provides personal insight of his experiences as a supplier and helps us to improve the supplier experience. The work that Serco and Unify have done together has been instrumental in demonstrating the tangible benefit of effective SRM both within Serco and our wider community, ranging from improved revenue to implementing effective solutions through mutual understanding of strategic objectives.


Feeling the benefits


Working in partnership with suppliers is an ultimately rewarding experience – combining the power of a large business with the niche expertise of a small business can deliver more than the sum of its parts. True SRM benefit can only be achieved through working with the supply chain as a whole, especially those small businesses. I am continually surprised by the time and enthusiasm suppliers have to give to help us on our supplier engagement journey and it is our responsibility as the customer to nurture and maximise the relationships we have. It is only through building trusting relationships with long-term vision that the honest two-way conversations that are essential to driving improvement can occur. Behind the process, supply chains are about people working with people – it is through the human skills of listening, understanding and trust that the business benefit can be achieved.


Words: Jenny Maxim, SRM Manager


Adam Esposito (Unify Solutions), Jenny Maxim (Serco), Harish Natali (Atmaana) – Serco Small Business Advisory Body


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