Public Sector Focus

03.01.20

Keeping the Customer in Mind - Crown Commercial Services

Source: PSE Dec/Jan 2020

 

Neil Harrison, category manager – technology solutions, Crown Commercial Service

Crown Commercial Service is the largest public sector procurement organisation in the UK, with thousands of customers in a range of sectors. We are privileged to have so many that are engaged in what we do, and so we seek and value their advice on how our frameworks can support them in their varied roles.

The health sector is no different. We understand that having the right software systems in place can reassure staff that your organisation is behind them in the day to day challenges they face. When we were planning our Data and Application Solutions (DAS) framework for its launch in February 2019, we relied heavily on health sector feedback about its predecessors, Corporate Software Solutions and Local Authority Software Applications.

DAS provides the public sector with a range of software-led office systems for business-critical back office support – including software licenses, associated professional services and hardware. So we held a series of interviews and workshops with customers and suppliers to help us better understand the marketplace. We analysed their responses, drafted proposals and presented these back to the same audience. We took this valuable feedback and incorporated it into the design. This investment in time and understanding was worthwhile and helped us produce a framework built around the people who intend to use it.

This collaborative process led to DAS innovative specification and lotting structure: it had been made clear to us that the health sector would benefit from access to specialist as well as the more generalist suppliers which serve other parts of the public sector, so we created Group 3, Health and Social Care Solutions. Group 3 provides just health and social care solutions including design, implementation, software, migration, user training, maintenance, support and many more functions.

The group itself is divided into three Lots: enterprise applications for health, health information management and community health and social care – each serving a different aspect of health and social care provision. We believe this structuring, and the suppliers available through it, meet many of the needs which customers raised with us during the consultation stage.

For example, both customers and suppliers were looking for options to extend existing software applications. This is something that might have been overlooked if we hadn’t been open to change. Call off length was also a customer concern, and we believe this has been addressed by allowing customers to decide how long they have their call offs up to a maximum of seven years. Part of our role is to facilitate innovation.

However, looking at DAS from only that perspective would have been a mistake because many of the sector's existing software solutions remain effective. Added to which, the time and resources required to change systems sometimes outweigh potential savings. That's why the catalogue route to market within DAS allows customers to explore how they might update their existing systems without the need to conduct a further competition. We acknowledged different customers have different needs. Some wish to retain their current software system with support from additional services, while others require new and innovative solutions.

For every organisation wanting to extend the life of its existing asset, there's another looking to save money by offloading hardware or premises. That's why we’ve tried to make DAS the flexible procurement tool it is. Complexity has long been an issue in procurement, with some documents being 200 pages long, so we've tried to address this too. DAS uses new simplified terms and conditions with ICT-specific schedules which is more relevant to how procurement teams work, and written in a more clear and concise manner. It's only by working alongside our customers as partners that we can understand the issues and help support organisations effectively in their day-to-day duties.

 

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