Reseller organisations across the UK can now become fully accredited under the government-backed Technology Means Business (TMB) programme.
Launched in 2000 and supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the scheme has entered its second stage and is set to accredit organisations as Approved Centres.
The TMB scheme is being run by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) under the DTI's 'UK Online for Business' initiative, in alliance with Hewlett-Packard (HP), BT, Intel and Microsoft. The first stage was to accredit individuals to become IT advisors to SMEs.
Neil Southern, director of standards and qualifications at the CMI, said: "About 250 individuals have already been accredited under the TMB scheme, and we are now concentrating on accrediting companies. To become an Advisory Centre, each firm must have at least two individuals accredited."
Training and support for the initiative is being provided in conjunction with HP's Centres of Excellence scheme. However, both the CMI and HP stressed that the Approved Centres remain independent.
"We need to educate SMEs through resellers and grow the entire IT market. The fact that each Advisory Centre is independent, whether or not it is an HP Centre of Excellence, is a vital ingredient. It would be no good if they were just HP accredited," said David Smith, general manager HP SME UK.
Steve Wood, director at the newly accredited Approved Centre, Parity ITC, said some SMEs had had negative experiences of resellers in the past.
"There is no obvious place an SME can go for IT advice," he said. "The TMB is a win for the reseller who gets the customer, a win for the customer who gets good advice and a win for the DTI because it gets greater productivity out of UK plc."
The following companies were the first 17 to be accredited Approved Centres under the TMB Scheme:
Biz-KIT Team Durham Business School
Business Link for Essex
Business Link for West Yorkshire
Business Link for Hertfordshire and Worcestershire
Business Link for Somerset
Business Link for Tyne and Wear
Chamber Business Enterprises Ltd - Manchester
Compuwiz - Bristol
Comtec - Bath
CometNET - North London
Ibbd - South Wales
Lanway Business Systems - Burnley
Online Agenda - Batlet
Partity Computers ITC - Merseyside
PBI - West Wales
Services to Software - Glasgow
The Lapworth Consultancy - Reading
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