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G-Cloud for Dummies (Part 2)

How Does It Work?

Hoping to sell on the G-Cloud? Great! But to go fishing, you have to know what you’re fishing for, so it’s important that you understand how buyers buy before you make any attempt to sell to them. Some public sector bodies will still be new to buying and, as such, you may need to explain the process to them. Displaying a thorough understanding of the buying and selling process may well put you at an advantage over other competitors.

For ease of understanding, let’s start simple and take a look at an analogy. Everyone knows eBay and almost everyone has bought from it, which aptly serves the purposes of this guide because the process of buying from eBay is very much like the process of buying from the G-Cloud. Let us take a specific example:

  • Step One: You hope to buy a vase.
  • Step Two: You search for the vase on eBay, applying filters to specify price range, material, etc.
  • Step Three: You shortlist the results to five vase suppliers.
  • Step Four: You consider each of them individually to ensure that you get the best value for your money. The first vase does not suit the style you were hoping to procure. The second is shipped from China and the delivery time is too long. The third is too expensive. The fourth is made from the wrong material. And the fifth is perfect.
  • Step Five: Having considered all your options, you purchase the fifth vase.

While this is certainly a simplification, it captures the G-Cloud buying process in a clear and accessible way. The crucial difference is that, on the G-Cloud, buyers must be fair to all suppliers and be able to justify their final decision.

Despite the simplicity of the eBay analogy, it is worth noting at this stage that no procurement process will ever be entirely free of complexity. Just as the traditional procurement process required a period of adjustment, understanding all of G-Cloud’s features will take time. But this is time well-spent. Remember, G-Cloud is a programme characterised by its simplicity, flexibility and time-efficiency and, as such, tackling its learning curve will reap exponential benefits. If you’d like to mitigate the learning curve, consider business management and bid writing services. This is our area expertise and we would be keen to offer you our cloud and tender writing services. If you’d like more information on how we can help you execute a successful G-Cloud bid, we’d love to hear from you.

So, what are your potential customers buying from the G-Cloud? Buyers seeking to procure Cloud Hosting, Software or Support, can do so through the Digital Marketplace which is the front-end portal through which they can shop for G-Cloud products or services. The Digital Marketplace helps buyers find suppliers for specialist services for digital projects and cloud technology. These services can be procured through three frameworks:

  • cloud services (e.g. accounting software) can be procured through the G-Cloud framework
  • digital outcomes, specialists and user research services can be procured through the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework
  • physical datacentre space can be procured through the Crown Hosting Data Centres framework

One of the major benefits of the G-Cloud is that it is a OJEU compliant framework. But what does this mean? It means that any public sector buyer can buy from the G-Cloud without needing to execute a full-fledged procurement. However, one critical element for buyers to remember is that G-Cloud does not allow for mini-tenders. Buyers can, however, contact suppliers directly outlining their requirements and requesting clarification on how the supplier would hope to approach the project, to include cost and timeframes. In effect, these clarification requests serve a very similar purpose to that of a mini-tender.

Via the Digital Marketplace, buyers are able to perform a keyword search. They can apply filters to the search to specify a wide variety of criteria including supplier type, user support, staff security clearance, minimum government security clearance and pricing. The search will then produce a list of suppliers registered to the framework who can meet the buyer’s requirements. One of the most notable features of G-Cloud is that all registered suppliers have pre-authenticated information about their company and the way they work, which saves buyers time during the procurement process. We have summarised the buying cycles below.

Buyers: How they Buy

It is important to remember that G-Cloud requires buyers to consider every supplier equally and fairly, to facilitate equal opportunity in the marketplace. This entails performing a comprehensive analysis of what the market can offer by undertaking a meticulous shopping experience on the G-Cloud; this also requires buyers to maintain a record of each of the steps they have taken so that they can justify their final decision. Tools and Templates are available to support this.

The steps in the buying process are as follows:

  • Write a list of your requirements and get approval to buy what you need.
  • Search for services and save your search.
  • Refine your saved search using the filters.
  • End your search.
  • Download your search results, review and compare services.
  • Choose your service, award and sign the contract (or ‘call-off’).
  • Publish the contract on Contracts Finder.
  • Complete the Customer Benefits Record form.

Buyers must treat all suppliers equally. As such, if only one supplier meets a buyer’s needs, then they can award the contract to them without taking any further measures. However, it is typical that a buyer will have to draft a shortlist of suppliers. In this case, the buyer is required to choose the supplier with the most economically advantageous tender. Otherwise known as MEAT.

“The process of evaluating suppliers and their services was straightforward. We looked at the services available through the Digital Marketplace and used the filter system to get to our short list. The process took around 3 hours. Then we issued an invitation to tender (ITT) to those shortlisted suppliers. One of the benefits of buying through the Digital Marketplace is that buyers are able to reduce the time the ITT is open for.”

  • Stephen Perrins, Category Manager Contracts for ICT, Protective Services, County Policing Command, Criminal Justice at Suffolk and Norfolk Constabulary

If you would like to make more money from your G-Cloud listings or are looking to take a listing for the first time then please do get in touch. Our team are experts in how the G-Cloud functions and how best to position our client’s services for success. Our G-Cloud services include:

  • G-Cloud briefings for management teams of companies considering taking a G-Cloud listing for the first time.
  • Seminars for sales teams to teach them about the G-Cloud and how to win more sales in the new G-Cloud regime.
  • Optimising existing or new service portfolios to rapidly increase sales and market share.