Suppliers need to work more closely with GDS if we’re to achieve the G-Cloud vision

The G-Cloud framework has been with us for more than four years and by the end of June 2016 sales had exceeded £1.26 billion. Almost every aspect has come in for criticism in recent weeks: buyers for not using the framework, suppliers for not understanding what they need to do for a successful sale and the framework itself for being difficult to use by all parties and not providing the promised opportunities for SMEs.

In my experience, there is some truth in all these comments – but it’s hardly surprising, and should not be a reason to complain, or to pull back from the framework. Moving to an entirely new method of public sector purchasing was never going to be a quick win, and if we as suppliers want to make it work we can’t sit back and wait for someone else to take the initiative.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Moving to an entirely new method of public sector purchasing is never going to be quick” hashtags=”cloud, framework”]

Let’s start with the facts: many public sector organisations are using G-Cloud, and many SMEs, including Fordway, have been awarded significant contracts. In the latest figures provided by the Government Digital Service (GDS), total recorded G-Cloud sales have reached £1,263,386,146, with 53 percent of total sales by value and 62 percent by volume awarded to SMEs.

Through being on the framework since it was first launched, we’ve learned a lot. This includes analysing opportunities where we haven’t been successful, which has enabled us to improve our offer in future iterations of the framework. But other suppliers and we need to do much more.

We need to start by sharing what we’ve learnt with the GDS so that everyone can benefit. It could help buyers to specify their requirements more accurately, suppliers to improve their service descriptions or the GDS to change search terms, service categories or other parameters. We want to make it easier for potential buyers to find our services – assuming that those services are relevant to their needs. While this may also help other suppliers, we have to be confident that our offer will stand up to the comparison on a level playing field.

Suppliers can also advise GDS if there are services customers are asking for but can’t find in the framework, forcing them to look elsewhere. This could lead to the development of new services, categories or search terms, or perhaps changes to the scope of the framework itself.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Suppliers can also advise GDS if there are services customers are asking for” hashtags=”cloud, framework”]

GDS itself is being proactive, launching a discovery process for G-Cloud 9 to find out how future iterations of the framework should evolve and looking at overlap with the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework. Earlier this year they ran a workshop at the Cyber UK in Practice conference to review the security around G-Cloud services, and more such events are in the pipeline. This gives suppliers and buyers an opportunity to help evolve the framework into something that meets all our needs.

The original G-Cloud vision inspired me and many others, offering a way for the public sector to benefit from the creativity and agility of SMEs while reducing procurement costs (and giving me as a taxpayer better value). It’s up to all of us working in the sector to help make that vision a reality.

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