Vendor badge to help smaller buyers

Vendor badge to help smaller buyers

NCC-backed accreditation scheme aimed at reducing risk in small firms' IT purchasing

An accreditation scheme aimed at smaller businesses cautious about investing in technology launches today (Thursday).

The National Computing Centre (NCC) quality standard, Accredit UK, assesses IT companies to reduce uncertainty for inexpert buyers. Its launch follows a successful pilot by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.

The scheme, which is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, was put together after discussions with a wide cross-section of organisations, said the NCC.

Market research indicated that 95 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses think more use of technology would increase their productivity, and two-thirds think quality standards are useful when selecting suppliers. But most do not have confidence in current standards.

Accredit UK programme director Vaughan Shayler said: “The conclusion is that people are worried when they buy IT and are crying out for some sort of formal certification.”

The scheme will start in the West Midlands before rolling out across the country. The first suppliers to be assessed will be in the network design and installation sector.

The initiative is being welcomed by business groups. In a recent survey of Institute of Directors (IoD) members ­ four-fifths of whom have fewer than 200 employees ­ 91 per cent were keen to grow their business and 82 per cent identified IT as a key factor in their strategy.

But deciding what to invest in can be a challenge, according to IoD senior policy adviser Jim Norton. “Small businesses have had poor advice from vendors or agencies,” he said.

“Most companies want to buy solutions to a problem, rather than a technology. If Accredit UK makes suppliers sell solutions it could be extremely important.”