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Guidelines for working with SMEs

We need to provide small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with fair and equitable access to the Queensland Government market.

SMEs are any business employing less than 200 people.

To provide more opportunities for SMEs, the ICT SME participation scheme policy states:

  • at least one responding SME capable of delivering will automatically be short listed in the evaluation of ICT offers
  • government can directly engage SMEs in the provision of innovative solutions up to $500,000 which demonstrates value for Queensland in addressing government priorities.

All agencies must apply the policy when procuring ICT products and services. Compliance is required under the Procurement and disposal of ICT products and services (IS13) policy.

How do I apply the SME Participation Scheme policy?

The ICT SME Participation Scheme standard can help you apply the policy.

Your requirements depend on whether you approach the market informally by obtaining quotes or formally through a full tender process and Invitation to Offer (ITO).

Your approach to market will depend on your agency’s procurement policies and procedures. Financial thresholds vary across departments.

You can use the QAssure supplier search, your own market research or contact ICT Strategic Sourcing to identify appropriate SMEs.

I am approaching the market informally

Obtaining 2 quotes

You must demonstrate that you have undertaken a market assessment to identify appropriate SMEs by obtaining offers from at least one SME.

Obtaining 3 quotes

You must demonstrate that you have undertaken a market assessment to identify appropriate SMEs by obtaining offers from at least two SMEs.

I am approaching the market formally

You must advertise all formal tenders on the QTenders website and ensure they include the relevant SME tender clauses (PDF, 11KB).

During offer evaluation, you must allocate 10% of the 100% total evaluation criteria for the purpose of weighting SMEs vs non SMEs.

If the offeror is a SME they receive the full 10% allocated.

If they are not a SME they receive 0%.

If the offeror is a prime contractor engaging SME sub-contractors to deliver the work, they can receive a portion of the 10% weighting depending on their level of SME participation.

The weighting they receive is calculated on the net proportion of the contract which is to be paid to SMEs.

Using the SME participation scheme calculation can help you determine the weighting.  

You must publish information about all awarded contracts over $10,000 on the QTenders website. You will need to advise the SME participation level and some information about the SMEs involved.

The Queensland Government QTenders system provides regular reporting which is used to trigger audits of missing information.

How do I engage SMEs providing innovative solutions?

You can directly engage SMEs in the provision of innovative solutions up to $500,000 that demonstrate value for Queensland in addressing government priorities.

This innovation incentive allows you to save time by approaching just one SME and engaging them via the General Contract Conditions.

The ICT SME Participation Scheme standard explains how to apply the innovation incentive.

I am buying from an existing ICT panel or standing offer arrangement

Your requirements depend on the type of arrangement you are buying from and whether it has been market tested.

If you are buying from a volume discount arrangement such as Sophos software products or Trend Micro software products you must apply the policy as the arrangement has not been market tested.

If you are buying from a supplier list arrangement such as the ICT Services Panel, you must apply the policy as the arrangement has not been fully market tested.

If you are buying from a specific arrangement such as Print and Imaging as-a-Service or Infrastructure as-a-Service, you don’t need to apply the policy as it was already applied when the panel was established.

When new panels are established they are subject to the ICT SME participation scheme.

Exemptions

Exemptions to the ICT SME Participation Scheme apply where you:

  • demonstrate that offers cannot be obtained from SMEs that are competitive on price, quality or delivery
  • are using a sole supplier, limited supplier or existing panel arrangement (including standing offer arrangement) that has been fully market tested
  • are using an employment or labour hire firm—these firms do not qualify for SME participation advantages.

Compliance requirements for prime contractors

Prime contractors are audited and can be subject to contracted liquidated damages through a withholding process if they do not honour their stated SME participation levels.

Contract managers must ensure that contracted SME payments have occurred by:

  • accepting the prime contractor assertion of payment
  • requesting proof of payment
  • auditing the prime contractor’s financial records.

If you are a contract manager and need to apply the withholding process, you can calculate damages using the withholding sheet (XLS, 25KB).

You should also report non-compliance by emailing ictstrategicsourcing@qld.gov.au.

Tools

For more information

Contact ictstrategicsourcing@qld.gov.au.