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Feature SMEs W


hether an SME is established in the nuclear sector or otherwise, performing successfully and meeting


company growth and training commitments when government framework contracts are of short duration, with annual mini-competitions and the associated pressures of rebidding, poses a greater challenge than ever. So, what can SMEs do to ensure they make their mark?


the opportunity to share a training commitment with a customer may be very real, and approached with consideration could be something that not only benefits a site but the wider sector


Manage performance and quality


As an SME, Matom have always understood that there are elements of business operation that should be synonymous with large corporations – and reflecting this in management and quality systems gives ground when marketing, qualifying for tenders and generally negotiating with large companies. In addition, a quality focus that aligns with current standards (ISO 9001:2008) and sets performance-monitoring as a central theme of operations can be refreshingly developmental for individuals and the company. The performance of an SME can be enhanced in many ways, and consideration of suitable key performance indicators (KPIs) relative to a market will lead to enhancements that not only consolidate business operations, but also give the confidence to engage more closely with customers when there are opportunities of significant value.


Know your customer


Matom have always taken the long view when building relations with potential or existing customers, and believe that truly understanding your customer, their


operations, and where your business can contribute to help them achieve their short and long-term targets, is essential in gaining their confidence and achieving consolidation as a supplier.


Commit to training


An SME in the nuclear sector will be faced with an aging skill base, almost regardless of the trade. For Matom there is the added pressure that there is a limited UK resource to draw upon in operational radiological protection (health physics) – a challenge that the extended supply chain has been aware of for a number of years, and customers have more recently become aware of as it pressures their own performance. Training is always a serious proposition for an SME, and cost and time commitments are never insignificant. As a company based in North Wales, Matom have a thorough understanding of employment demographics, and also how government funding maybe a consideration for contributing to training costs. However, and this heralds back to an earlier point on engagement with the customer, the opportunity to share a training commitment with a customer may be very real, and approached with consideration could be something that not only benefits a site but the wider sector. Matom achieved this with Magnox at their Trawsfynydd site, where operatives have been trained to a level in health physics that will shortly allow them to work as suitably qualified and experienced individuals.


being able to react and respond outside of the 9 to 5 Monday to Friday envelope should be a part of the management policy


Respond rapidly


An SME should have many qualities that are the envy of large competitors. At the top of the list is the ability to respond rapidly in a consistent manner. Time and again this will reap rewards, and being able to react and respond outside of the 9 to 5 Monday to Friday envelope should be a part of the management policy, with simple


systems in place to achieve it. Decision- making should not protract; when an opportunity arises large competitors are often constrained by their commercial/ procurement/approvals procedures – this should rarely be the case for an SME, and simple procedures must be adopted to ensure this ability maximises such opportunities.


Mix it up


Diversification is essential when planning your business in the nuclear sector. An SME may become successful on a range of decommissioning sites, such as Magnox, LLWR or DSRL, and feel very happy with themselves that they have done so. There is however risk associated with this, as all of these decommissioning sites are part of the NDA estate and thus subject to public spending fluctuations and the whims of central government. Matom actively operate in a number of sectors, and have diversified completely away from nuclear in order to stabilise income streams.


In summary, show a long-term commitment in the nuclear sector, have performance quality in depth, understand the customers and do not be afraid to engage them. Remember, big does not necessarily mean best.


Established in 1999, Matom have become established as a supplier of quality services across a range of sectors that include nuclear power and nuclear


decommissioning. The founding members of Matom, Tom Robson and Matt Tuck, each had nearly 15 years’ diverse nuclear experience gained across sectors that included power, oil and gas and pharmaceuticals, before setting up Matom in 1999. Currently, there are more than 120 employees and long-term contractors forming the Matom operational and consultancy team. These are based across customer sites in the UK, a significant number of which are located on the NDA estate.


Tel: 01248 672 617 Email: enquiries@matom.com


Words: Matt Tuck, Matom


NuclearCONNECT


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