Latest Public Sector News

17.10.16

Digital Transformation – Getting more from G-Cloud

James Passingham, chief technical officer at Foehn, explains how public sector organisation can get the most out of the Digital Marketplace – the online marketplace for G-Cloud. 

G-Cloud – the Government marketplace designed to support the public sector’s digital transformation – makes the procurement of cloud services simpler, faster and more agile. All government departments, local authorities, not-for-profit organisations, police forces, devolved administrators and wider public sector bodies are eligible to buy services on the Digital Marketplace – the online marketplace for G-Cloud. 

You can easily change service providers to align with evolving requirements without being tied to large, complex ICT programmes and inflexible, long-term supplier contracts. As well as all the benefits that come with moving to cloud-based services, such as reduced costs, increased operational flexibility and simplified ITC management, organisations are better placed to select best-fit solutions that deliver improved public services and value for money to citizens. 

So, with all the advantages of G-Cloud at your fingertips, how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of the marketplace? 

Projects suited to G-Cloud procurement 

The speed that solutions can be deployed makes G-Cloud the obvious choice when services are required in a short timeframe. The same is true for projects that require standardised or commodity solutions. The flexible nature of the framework also means it’s well suited to projects that need to be live for an unspecified time period. In addition, if you want to try before you buy, most G-Cloud suppliers will provide you with a proof of concept, or even a time-limited free trial of basic functionality.       

How to approach the buying process 

As with all forms of procurement, any decision to buy G-Cloud services must be based on a valid business case and a clear understanding of your user requirements. You’ll also need to identify any technical constraints from legacy systems and ensure that provisions are in place to mitigate risk. And if you’re applying Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) criteria to the selection process, these should be included from the start. 

Evaluating the alternatives 

With more than 22,000 services available, you’ll need a clear picture of your requirements and the keywords to base your supplier search around. Once you’ve established a long-list, you can begin to assess each service offering against your initial requirements – filters in the G-Cloud system will help you refine your search down to a shortlist. 

When you evaluate suppliers on the shortlist get your technical team to scrutinise proposals and check for potential issues and interoperability with legacy systems. At the same time, make sure that all costs are identified, including any potential additional charges for areas like connectivity or on-boarding. Remember that you can’t negotiate special price discounts – any cost reduction must be universally available and shown in the supplier’s pricing document. And take particular notice of supplier terms and conditions (T&Cs), as they’ll be part of your call-off contract. If there are clauses you’re unhappy with, make sure they can be annulled by G-Cloud T&Cs, which take priority. 

Appointing a supplier 

You can appoint a supplier based simply on the lowest price offer, or alternatively, for more complex solutions where service offerings vary between providers, revert to the MEAT model. After applying weightings to specific criteria and comparing how well each provider scores, a decision can then be made on the most economically advantageous solution that meets your requirements. 

If more than one solution is viable, procurement law dictates that the supplier offering best value for money should be selected – taking into account the original catalogue cost and factors such as whole life costs, risk, and the cost of migration. All unsuccessful shortlisted suppliers should be informed of the outcome – it’s also best practice to provide them with as much feedback as possible so they can improve their services.    

The contracting process 

To appoint your chosen supplier, both parties must sign the G-Cloud call-off contract, which includes the G-Cloud Framework Agreement, G-Cloud call-off T&Cs, the order form, your supplier’s T&Cs, and any other supporting documentation. The contracting process is straightforward and can be completed quickly because all T&Cs are pre-agreed. 

The performance of any cloud service provisioned through G-Cloud should be reviewed on a regular basis, and at least three months before the end of the agreement to assess whether to renew it. At this time, buyers must re-evaluate the service to establish that it continues to offer best value. If you decide to keep your existing provider but a new version of G-Cloud has replaced that used in your original contract, you’ll need a new call-off agreement to ensure you’re working to the most up-to-date terms and conditions. 

Leveraging value 

You can find out more about buying through G-Cloud and how to leverage its value in your move to a digital workplace in Foehn’s guide, Top Tips for Buyers Using G-Cloud, available to download here.

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