'Supplier nightmare' torments small businesses

7 October 2009

8 October 2009 | Allie Anderson

Small businesses in the UK are struggling to manage multiple IT and telecoms contracts.

A survey of 337 SME owners, conducted by Telecoms firm Opal, concluded that they face a "supplier nightmare" with more than half (51 per cent) having in excess of four technology and telecoms equipment and services vendors.

A fifth of respondents said dealing with these suppliers distracts them from "core business responsibilities" such as finance, HR, operations and marketing because valuable time is taken up trying to manage vendors.

Just under half said every year they spend around a week managing IT and telecoms vendors, while an additional 13 per cent reported supplier management takes up around 12 days a year.

Lack of expertise was highlighted as an area of concern, with 10 per cent admitting they "didn't know what they were doing" when it came to supplier management.

In a separate report by Henley Business School last month, it was found that UK businesses are failing to get the best value from IT and telecoms contracts (news, 21 September 2009).

Chris Collinson, director of small businesses at Opal, part of the Talk Talk group, said: "We regularly hear stories from small business owners who tell us that managing IT and telecoms providers takes up a huge amount of their time.

"They are faced with countless phone calls and meetings with vendors and frequently have to learn on the job, often making mistakes and causing themselves even more technical problems."

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