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Congratulations RIBA for small practice push

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It seems very unfashionable to commend the RIBA.

The small practice committee have recently convened a 'cross-professional' meeting to appraise how small- and medium-sized businesses (SME's) can obtain work in the public sector and they should be congratulated for their efforts.

Current procurement policies including PFI, prime contracting, design and build, agenda 21 etc, generally preclude small and medium-size businesses. 'Corporate' procurement undoubtedly minimises financial risk to clients but does this really represent either 'best value' or 'best practice' to clients and the rest of the team?

The government is supposedly committed to better design ofpublic buildings, but is this best achieved by current procurement methods and large corporations?

Perversely, many of the nimble, medium-sized companies are at the cutting edge of innovation and knock the socks off the big firms in terms of 'performance'. Many of the cross-professional benchmarking clubs indicate that mediumsized firms have much better key performance indicators (KPI's) than their corporate rivals.

There are still too many of the smaller firms, however, yet to get on board the entire 'rethinking construction' agenda. Those that are, are clearly noticing the all round benefits.

It is up to us as versatile, medium and smaller firms to make our case and demonstrate the benefits. The procurement methods are here to stay. We need to make sure we do.

Many Institute of Structural Engineers members are 'spreading the word' and it is encouraging that the RIBA is also pushing hard to promote SME's.

Simon Pole, structural engineer, Wimbledon

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