Last December, Stephen Allott, the Crown Service Representative for SMEs blogged about G-Cloud and the opportunities opening up in government IT for small, innovative suppliers. He laid out a five-point plan to help G-Cloud grow as fast as possible. On 29 January at the Sprint 14 event, Francis Maude set out the ambition to spend a further £100 million with SMEs offering digital services by the next General Election.
It’s important for us to keep talking about how we are taking G-Cloud forward and about how it will transform the experience of public sector buyers and their suppliers for the better, ensuring that all departments deliver great digital services for users.
Build the customer base
G-Cloud has the potential to reach an estimated 30,000 buyers across the public sector. Yet research carried out by the 6 Degree Group suggests that nearly 90 percent of local authorities have not heard of G-Cloud.
Of course, any transformational change of the scale that G-Cloud can deliver may be scary. We’re speaking to buyers to find out how we can communicate with them better and to really get to the bottom of their concerns about using G-Cloud and then address those issues head on.
We need to help buyers and all those people involved in the procurement process to understand how G-Cloud can save them both time and money. We’ve begun this by publishing a clearer guide on how to use G-Cloud and will support this by publishing further advice and help on the major issues that buyers raise with us.
We also need to increase awareness of G-Cloud across the wider public sector. Going out to more events to speak to our target audiences will help, and we are already doing this in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government.
But one of the most effective ways of spreading the word about G-Cloud is not by us talking about it, but for others to hear from their peers who have successfully used G-Cloud. There are many positive stories to tell, and we will be publishing some of the experiences of buyers across the public sector in the coming months.
Build the supplier base
We have a great pool of suppliers on G-Cloud already. Their support and suggestions of ways to improve what we are doing are not only very welcome but critical to the success of G-Cloud. This is a competitive market – we want all suppliers to be able to compete on an equal footing and have have done a lot to remove barriers and make it easier for suppliers of all sizes to bid for government contracts – there are 84 percent SMEs on G-Cloud. We are working with various trade bodies and organisations to continue to ensure we attract the best and most innovative suppliers from across the UK.
Build the product catalogue
There are over 13,000 services available via the CloudStore, provided by 1186 suppliers. We will continue to build the product catalogue to ensure it meets user needs. We need to continually improve our understanding about what the public sector needs in order to deliver great digital services to its users.
But it is not all about numbers. We also need to ensure quality and that the services that fall within the terms of the framework. We are carrying out a systematic review of all services and have, so far, deleted around 100 that do not qualify. We will continue to check new services as part of the assurance process.
Debug the processes
We are always looking to make improvements to processes and to address problems as they emerge. One particular issue we are working on at the moment is security accreditation. Security accreditation is required for all services that will hold information assessed at Business Impact Level profiles 11x/22x, 33x and above. But of course, with the new security protection markings that are being introduced on 1 April, that will change. We will be publishing clear guidance on how this will affect accreditation of G-Cloud suppliers and services soon.
A new digital marketplace
Finally, we’re excited to be looking at how a new and improved CloudStore, can act as a single space for public sector buyers to find what they need on all digital frameworks.
This new digital marketplace will be built entirely around user needs and will meet the Digital by Default Service Standard. It’s very early days and a full delivery strategy is still being mapped out and we will keep you informed about progress regularly.