The economy has long heralded small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as the backbone of industry. In recent years, big businesses have sought SMEs as suppliers because small businesses bring valuable, diverse voices to the table. SMEs help their global buyers live out commitments to issues such as sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). However, relationships between global buyers and SMEs are becoming increasingly complex – so complex that some SMEs are deciding not to pursue contracts with large, global customers at all.
The increased complexity is largely driven by compliance. With all eyes on privacy, data protection, and risk mitigation, buyers (particularly those in the global marketplace) have developed procurement processes and contracts that are overwrought with compliance requirements. SMEs often do not have the resources to align with those conditions.
This article highlights what APQC has learned from small to mid-size service providers in terms of their experiences with global buyers, how they are managing the complexity, and what they suggest as permanent solutions.