The Digital Marketplace made the buying process simpler, clearer and faster for the Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies. Stephen Perrins explains how.
Describe your role
I’m a category manager within the Suffolk and Norfolk Constabulary procurement unit. I’m responsible for all ICT purchases across both constabularies.
Explain the project
Both Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies needed new websites as our old ones weren’t very user friendly and they were difficult for our teams to update. Our costs were increasing each year because most new plug-ins that were being developed weren’t compatible with our systems.
To begin the buying process, we put together a list of requirements for our new sites. We needed:
- to be able to build smaller, supporting web pages inhouse
- to use the same content management system for both constabularies
- the option to update the site when new technologies and features are developed
- a system with open source software
We felt that if we had the above features in place, the new sites would meet user needs.
We used the Digital Marketplace to search for suppliers who could meet these requirements. After creating our long list, we created a short list of 3 suppliers. We then evaluated them further and awarded the project to Reading Room Ltd.
Describe the challenges you’ve overcome
This was the first time we’d used the Digital Marketplace so getting used to a different way of buying was a challenge. We knew of other government departments who’d used it to find specialists to work on similar projects so we were confident we’d be able to find someone who met our requirements.
How using the Digital Marketplace made things simpler, clearer and faster
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. The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) recommended we kept it open for 3 weeks but as time wasn’t an issue on this occasion, we kept it open for 6.
Explain your savings
GDS champions open source products which means that we no longer need to pay for expensive software licences. This will save us more than £20,000 over the contracted 2-year period. We expect that we’ll make further savings as we won’t have to develop new applications to plug into the sites anymore either. Instead, existing applications will be compatible.