90% of small businesses are unaware of “G-Cloud”, a government based initiative targeted at facilitating procurement by public sector bodies.
The G-Cloud framework was launched in 2012 and is commonly referred to as the “Digital Marketplace”, in which suppliers offer services through a series of framework agreements. The Digital Marketplace aims to be a one-stop shop for government departments, local authorities and public sector bodies seeking to purchase digital services from UK based and international businesses.
Why was the G-Cloud framework introduced?
The UK government spends approximately £11 billion a year on IT services. Despite the opportunities this offers to suppliers, the traditional lengthy and sometimes complicated tendering and procurement processes can deter small businesses from competing for the work. G-Cloud is intended to offer an alternative route into supplying services to the public sector.
What services can be offered via G-Cloud?
At the moment, the services that can be offered by suppliers via G-Cloud must fit into one of the following four categories:
- Infrastructure as a Services;
- Platform as a Service;
- Software as a Service; and
- Specialist Cloud Services.
There are, however, plans in place to extend the categories of services to include advertising and media, fire services and equipment, energy and utilities, police services and equipment, print and print management, welfare to work, travel and science, technology and research.
What’s the process?
Applications open every six to nine months and remain open for six weeks. A brief outline of the process for businesses wishing to sell their services is as follows:
- obtain a Data Universal Numbering System number – available at http://salesmarketing.dnb.co.uk/find_my_company/;
- sign up to the Crown Commercial Service eSourcing Portal at https://crowncommercialservice.bravosolution.co.uk/web/login.shtml;
- register your interest, login and accept any invitation to tender;
- invitation to tender questions will follow;
- provide more detailed information about your services;
- wait for your proposals to be checked against certain criteria; and
- fingers crossed, your services will be listed on the Digital Marketplace.
How to make the most of G-Cloud
Once your services are listed, you will need to attract prospective buyers. Keywords can help buyers find your listing. Make sure you clearly detail the features and benefits of the services you offer, explain to buyers how your services can help them, and provide clear pricing information.
Further information and advice can be found at http://www.sage.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Sage-G-cloud-document-V5.pdf and https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/buyers-guide.
Are there any downsides?
The founder of G-Cloud, Chris Chant, has been cited making fairly disparaging remarks about the Digital Marketplace. At the THINK Cloud for Government 2015 event, Chant suggested that there are still too many examples of bad practice and that, although the Digital Marketplace is gradually improving the processes in place, further discussions are needed to resolve the remaining issues.
Has there been much success?
According to Chris Chant, there has been “poor take up and low spend” in respect of the Digital Marketplace.
There are, however, a number of businesses that have successfully used the Digital Marketplace and are happy to shout about it, including Repstor, Bramble People, Basware and Fujitsu.
Could G-Cloud provide you with the springboard you need into the world of public sector procurement?
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