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G-Cloud for Dummies (Part 3)

Sellers: Getting Started

All supplier applications go through the Digital Marketplace. To apply, you must:

  • Create, or log into, a supplier account on the Digital Marketplace.
  • Start your G-Cloud application.
  • Make the supplier declaration on the Digital Marketplace.
    • agree to the framework terms
    • confirm how you’ll work with government
    • answer questions to establish grounds for mandatory exclusion
    • answer questions to establish grounds for discretionary exclusion
    • provide information about your organisation
  • Add service information on the Digital Marketplace.
    • 50 words to introduce your service
    • 100 words to describe up to 10 service benefits (10 words per benefit), for example simplified system maintenance
    • 100 words to describe up to 10 service features (10 words per feature), for example real-time reporting
    • You’ll also have your own supplier page where you have 50 words to describe your organisation.
    • Before you can submit a cloud service to the Digital Marketplace, you need to add a: pricing document, terms and conditions (specific to that service) document
  • Wait for eligibility checks to be made on your information.
  • Get the result of your application.
  • Sign and return your framework agreement on the Digital Marketplace.

Easy, right?

But the G-Cloud is a relatively new route to market, with different buying groups, buying behaviours and competition. It contains a number of novel contractual clauses and commercial obligations and even the style of registration is different to what suppliers may be used to. As such, new and existing suppliers may find it difficult to get to grips with the challenges involved and often neglect to fully think through the opportunities and challenges that the G-Cloud can present to their business.

Thus far, less than 30% of the companies listed on the G-Cloud have made sales and the statistics are even less promising for companies that have registered recently, with four in five G-Cloud 9 suppliers yet to transact a single deal. Which leads us to a very important question; why then have the top five companies on G-Cloud achieved cumulative sales of over £400m between them? What sets these companies apart? Quite simply, they provide services that customers are interested in purchasing and, perhaps less obviously, they have taken the time and effort to optimise their listings. They dovetail their G-Cloud strategy into their overall sales and marketing plan. One of the issues with G-Cloud is that it is deceptively easy to register, which perpetuates a misconception that establishing a successful listing requires little to no effort. This is not the case. But how do you create a successful listing?

We can help with that. DeNové offer end-to-end services or help with specific aspects of the procurement process. We employ a team of expert bid writers, G-Cloud Consultants and Public Sector Procurement Specialists with extensive experience. If you would like more information regarding our bid management and Cloud services, drop us a line.

We would recommend reading the G-Cloud suppliers’ guide to learn more about selling cloud technology, how to register and how to apply. The G-Cloud is expected to open for new suppliers to register their services in April. You can keep up-to-date with the latest news from the Digital Market Place team or just contact us and we will let you know what you have to do and when.

The G-Cloud 10 contract notice has now been published and we anticipate that the site will be open to new applications at 12 noon on the 18th of April. You can start your application here.

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.

G-Cloud For Dummies (Part 1)

Confused? You’re not the only one. If you’re lucky, you turned to Google for some much-needed clarification and stumbled across this guide, which was designed to strip away the jargon and provide an exhaustive source of information regarding the G-Cloud, how to register and how to apply. If you’re unlucky, you’ve been staggering around in the virtual ether gathering snippets of semi-relevant information and are on the verge of ripping your hair out.

Don’t worry; you got here in the end.

While the G-Cloud programme has certainly seen mammoth success rates during its 5 years, with reported sales of £2,852,725,836 in December 2017, there remains a misconception that, with the exception of the Central Government Departments that are mandated to use it, its adoption across the wider public sector is still patchy. In an article published on Diginomica, Derek du Preez identifies that ‘old habits dying hard’ is an issue which continues to generate hesitation. The anxiety surrounding this is chiefly due to a lack of buyer and supplier understanding. Put simply, a lack of easily accessible, cohesive and comprehensive information on G-Cloud, the application process and its benefits.

This series of mini-guides is designed to combat this anxiety by addressing the lack.

What is G-Cloud?

In answer to this question, one could cite endless business lingo, with mention of ‘frameworks’, ‘infrastructure’ and ‘iterations’, without ever directly addressing the reason for G-Cloud’s existence. In the name of yielding better understanding, it would be more appropriate to ask not what is G-Cloud, but why is G-Cloud? You will be relieved to know that the answer is perfectly simple. G-Cloud was founded for the purpose of streamlining the public procurement process for buyers and suppliers alike.

In the Cabinet Office’s review on Accelerating Government Procurement, they identified that there is excessive waste built into the existing traditional procurement process from inception through to award. This includes: excessive amounts of guidance with too much variation, duplication and confusion over different terms; elongated timescales both pre-OJEU and during the procurement; serial-processing, inefficient engagement with suppliers; input-based specifications vs. outcomes and risk aversion.

At this point, any readers with experience bidding for a contract will be nodding their assent.

In contrast, according to some sources the experienced G-Cloud buyer and supplier can complete the entire procurement process in just 24 hours. In light of this, G-Cloud has been a revolutionary step in procurement innovation.

“In terms of speed, we’ve found that G-Cloud is a quicker, more efficient route to market than buying from any other framework.”

  • Andrew McHattie, Procurement Lead, IT Modernisation Programme at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency

The Benefits

Through the G-Cloud, the public sector is able to buy digital cloud-based services ‘off-the-shelf’ in what is often referred to as a pay-as-you-go approach. This avoids lock-ins to expensive contracts and facilitates innovation, flexibility, as well as time and cost-effectiveness.

The benefits of G-Cloud include:

  • It is quicker and cheaper to use than traditional procurement processes.
  • G-Cloud is re-tendered regularly, so it is always up to date with the latest suppliers, services and information.
  • It is easy to register and apply to participate in the G-Cloud framework.
  • There are no hidden charges; prices, terms and services are transparent.
  • Many services are often available to try at no cost.
  • There is a bigger range of suppliers than any other framework
  • Buyers can contact suppliers directly with any questions or information requests.
  • There is no ‘lock-in’ – all services state up-front how you get in and out.
  • The G-Cloud eradicates the need for contract negotiations, an OJEU or ITT.
  • With G-Cloud, SMEs can compete with larger companies on a level playing field.

“The benefits of using the Digital Marketplace included being able to offer a faster solution for both our buyers and suppliers. In the past, our buyers and suppliers have commented that traditional procurement methods are slow and expensive.”

  • Neil Higson, Dstl R-Cloud Project Manager at the Ministry of Defence

Moreover, since its inception G-Cloud has generated sales of over £2.8bn, 48% of which was awarded to SMEs, which demonstrates that G-Cloud can be a valuable resource across the board, for suppliers of varying sizes.

The G-Cloud is expected to open for new suppliers to register their services and apply in April. You can keep up-to-date with the latest news from the Digital Market Place team or just drop us a line and we will let you know what you have to do and when.

New Office!

We have, until recently, been collocated with Westminster City Council, a few yards from the Capita head office and a stone’s throw away from the Cabinet Office and multiple other Government Ministries. It was a great location and one that enabled us to regularly meet with our clients whilst they were in the area.

However, as Westminster City Hall is being closed for refurbishment we have taken the opportunity to expand, moving into a larger office directly opposite Waterloo station.

Our new address is:
Mercury House
109-117 Waterloo Road
London SE1 8UL
Telephone: 0207 960 2801

Some of the team – especially Stan, Sally, Nick and Kevin will continue to operate mostly from their home offices but the new space will create the opportunity for some of the team to get together regularly and to collaborate and work as a team to help our clients win even more business.

Office space in London is expensive and we are recruiting at the moment so it’s going to get very cosy when we move one more desk and person into the office but we all get on very well so I’m sure that we will manage.

All clients old and new, please give us a call and come by for coffee, as you can see, we have a lovely (shared) lounge space that we can use. We’d love to see you!

November’s Quality Assurance Satisfaction Score

Feedback and Lessons learned from our clients are at the heart of everything that we do. We take the post assignment feedback, review it as a team and then incorporate any lessons learned into our processes or knowledge base as part of a Continuous Service Improvement regime.

The result is a consistently high level of service and we are pleased to announce that this month’s Quality Assurance TQM is once again in the mid nineties (94% to be precise). You can find out more about our initiative here


October’s Quality Assurance satisfaction score

Last month DeNové began a new initiative to ensure transparency in the quality of our deliverables. The new monthly Quality Assurance survey underpins the customer-centric approach valued at the company and the satisfaction delivered alongside this.

Building on this, we are pleased to be able to publish this month’s TQM score which stands at a steady and impressive 95%. 

The analysis of continuous new data from the Quality Assurance surveys has brought several findings to light and we are adapting our internal processes and procedures to reflect this feedback.

Additionally, clients have highlighted that more support would be beneficial for the commercial element of their submission. With the team deploying the relevant in-house skills needed, DeNové will now focus more on assisting in framing the clients’ commercial offering.

More about the quality assurance score and the methodology used can be read here.