Designed to professionalise relationships with suppliers, improve transparency and, of course, “control” costs few SMEs relish the thought of dealing with procurement, however when working with big business it has become a fact of life for many of us.

While procurement professionals tend to be experts in contract negotiations they cannot fully understand all the areas they are procuring for and this can create problems for professionals trying to outline how their product or service differs to other on the market.

Very often procurement will try to turn into a check box exercise setting very specific targets for suppliers – possibly not a problem if you’re supplying paperclips, but often counterproductive for both the client and the agency in more nuanced processes. As such it’s important to start a bi-lateral dialogue with the client’s technical and procurement teams early in the progress to highlight where you add value relative to other providers and the impact driving down cost on the quality of product or service the client will receive.

Alex Arnot is non executive advisor to more than 20 SMEs.