Industry Information

Our SME Partners are an Essential Part of Who We are

July 6, 2022

Infrastructure contractors often talk about having SME partners within their supply chain. What does this partnership mean?

For us, it’s a two-way commitment to invest in each other’s success. The relationship is based on shared values and a mutual understanding that the route to prosperity is to consistently deliver excellent project outcomes for our customers. This is supported by the fact that “Assured and Safe Delivery” is one of our four key pillars.

Over 80%[1] of our supply chain partners are small or medium sized enterprises. For our customers, engaging with any one of these organisations during the project should feel no different from engaging with Octavius personnel.

Diverse Solutions

Working with SME supply chain partners brings diverse, innovative thinking and experience to tackling project challenges. This is why we seek to engage them, and all of our supply chain partners, as early as possible in each project. We tell our customers that early engagement improves outcomes and it’s essential to practice what we preach.

An embankment failure at Epsom provides an example of this approach in action. Working with our SME partner SRS we reinstated the embankment and failed track as well as installing new switches and crossing (S&C), new ETE cabling and High Voltage cable diversions. This was completed to a tight, fixed timescale while keeping the line open.

Supply Chain Management

Our Supplier Protocol, reinforced through our Supply Chain Management System promotes fairness and transparency. Through our Standard Operating Procedures and online qualification system (Constructionline) we vet commercial, technical and H&S skills, and also ensure potential partners operate certified Occupational H&S, Environmental and Quality Management systems.

Our commitment to SME partners can be measured in multiple ways. On the Southern Multidisciplinary Framework (SMDF) over 68%[2] of our spend is with SMEs. We’ve also delivered 660[3] hours of CPD learning to SMEs over a 12 month period, which benefits current and future projects.

The payback is impressive through improved safety performance, consistent project delivery and the fact that 39%[4] of our SME partners are engaged in apprenticeship programmes.

Practical ways that we support SMEs across all frameworks include the following: 

  • A framework Supply Chain Group to establish best practice engagement with SMEs
  • Regional ‘Meet the Buyer’ events to engage local SMEs
  • Breaking works into smaller packages to attract a wider pool
  • Accelerated payment terms to maintain cash flow
  • Mentoring and shared learning to improve their systems

SME supply chain partners are part of the Octavius family and we strive to ensure they live our values as fully as we do, including our four key pillars. This is one way we ensure consistently high standards of project delivery.

If you’d like to know more visit our transport infrastructure resource centre, or contact Mike Todd (


  1. Based on the latest spend analysis and the supply chain analysis on CL
  2. Based on the latest spend analysis for FY21/22
  3. Based on the latest partner value report from Supply Chain Sustainability School (this figure may include some large companies too)
  4. Based on the CL Social Value analysis for SMEs

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