The life of an SME is never easy, and is certainly far from glamorous. Ask any defence SME and most will have a tale or two of frustrations and hard learning curves, but the CEO of one of Australia’s largest primes says there is reason for SMEs to smile, with the government firmly advocating for SMEs in the supply chains of upcoming procurements.
Northrop Grumman Australia’s Ian Irving said despite whatever tensions may occasionally flare up between SMEs and major primes, the government’s commitment to SMEs, through incentives such as the Global Supply Chain program, is working towards strong solutions to benefit Australia’s defence SMEs.
"It's really championed, the Global Supply Chain program, we really applaud that," said Irving.
"I think it's something that we should be doing and really actively engaging in, and we've signed a global supply chain contract deed and I'm very committed to pushing that very hard and getting those solutions.
"I know that the minister is very passionate about this. The Australian industry capability framework and the Global Supply Chain framework really work closely together."
In June this year, Northrop Grumman signed a new Global Supply Chain agreement.
The aim of the agreement is for the company to expand its model to drive an increase in the number of defence and commercial opportunities provided to Australian SMEs.
The GSC program operates on the basis that the prime is contracted to identify and award export contracts on merit, essentially creating a model where the customer is supporting the supplier in navigating the challenges associated with doing business.
And for those hoping to join the Northrop Grumman supply chain, Irving has offered some sage advice.
"What we're really looking for is some SME partners that we can go with, if you like, on our local proposals and can also be integrated into our global supply chain programs so that we get to know them," Irving said.
"We know their reliability. We know their quality. We know that they can perform and they perform for us on their local programs and they've also got access to our global programs."
Access to the supply chain of US primes such as Northrop Grumman is arguably one of the best ways to promote a defence product, and an opportunity that Irving believes some Australian SMEs will utilise successfully.
"I'm really hopeful that through some of the contracts we're going to win in Australia we will develop solutions with our SMEs that we can take to the global market. And there's a couple that I've got in mind right now," he said.
"I won't mention them but I do think there's great opportunity for us to design something here for the ADF that we can pick up effectively with our local partners and offer that in another market in either in the United States or in one of our other partner countries as another means of accessing global supply. We want to use all those levers together really as a team."
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