Kevin Todd, Commercial Agreement Lead – G-Cloud, CCS, provides insight into G-Cloud, a cloud computing services framework for use by the UK public sector
When G-Cloud was launched in 2012, Crown Commercial Service (CCS) aimed to provide a transparent, competitive marketplace to let government customers buy off-the-shelf hosting, software as a service or other, similar products quickly and easily.
Seven years on, we think we’ve done that: more than 31,000 services are available to customers and the platform’s adoption across central government and throughout the wider public sector has been a real success.
A total of £5.2billion has been spent through G-Cloud during its lifetime, generating greater value for the taxpayer than it would have done had those budgets been spent through other procurement channels.
Of that sum, more than £2 billion has been spent with the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which drive innovation in commodity-based cloud services.
July 2019 saw the 11th iteration of G-Cloud successfully go-live, with the highest number of suppliers awarded a place on the agreement, some 4,200 of which 90% were SMEs.
Impressive though these figures are, our ambitions for G-Cloud are not focused on the overall scale of its offer, instead, they are targeting an increase in business awarded and business opportunities through more attractive propositions for buyers. We aim to achieve this by increasing the quality of services available under G-Cloud and driving competitive prices against a range of comparable services. We also want to continue making the Digital Marketplace easier to use for both buyers and suppliers.
As G-Cloud is refreshed annually it allows new suppliers to join the framework and it allows existing suppliers to add or refresh their services – essential in a rapidly developing market. This feature also enables CCS to react quickly to customer and supplier feedback so we can implement day changes needed to keep G-Cloud relevant.
The last significant change instigated by customer demand was in G-Cloud 9 when we increased the term from a maximum two years to two+one+one, however, CCS recently ran a customer survey to capture feedback and suggestions for consideration in future iterations of G-Cloud, the results of which are currently being analysed and will inform our next steps.
The annual refresh is also important in allowing us to help support government policy priorities: a really important feature which keeps the platform relevant and leads in ways that are beyond price.
A powerful example of this is the recognition that slavery remains an issue within supply chains. G-Cloud is now being seen as a tool in removing it from those supply chains which serve the public sector.
In September 2018, the government announced new steps designed to ensure its supply chains are free from offences of slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. It’s essential and right that we help with this effort. UK central Government spends around £52 billion per year buying goods and services and the wider public sector represents an additional £203 billion annual spend. The government must use its buying power to keep modern slavery out of public sector supply chains, especially in high-risk sectors.
So G-Cloud 11 allows suppliers to upload copies of their modern slavery statements. This function was introduced to make the process easy for both suppliers and customers. We believe it was an essential update in the context of the government’s policy on this matter and it provides a more straightforward way for customers to assess modern slavery and for suppliers to communicate their position. Such a statement is mandatory for all suppliers with an annual turnover above £36 million and optional for others. The statements are presented in the Digital Marketplace for buyer evaluation.
Vital to G-Cloud’s success is maintaining a low barrier for entry – it helps suppliers looking to be awarded onto the agreement. This, along with a digitised and easy application process, encourages a varied range of suppliers. Together they offer a wide range of services which can be refreshed annually to the benefit of the market.
This ‘light touch’ approach to the application process allows innovative suppliers to provide their best offers in a compliant and forward-thinking manner.
We have also defined an easy to use and repeatable buying process, underpinned by the Digital Marketplace. Services can be identified through a familiar search process and shortlisted based on predefined filters.
We wouldn’t claim that G-Cloud 11 is perfect, but we know we can improve it further by listening to customers and suppliers. The team at CCS are proud of how far G-Cloud has come in the last seven years, particularly the how it is shaping the supply chain and changing lives for the better in ways that go well beyond price.
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