G-Cloud 9: we’re moving from discovery to alpha

G-Cloud 9 Discovery

We recently completed the discovery for G-Cloud 9 and have now moved to the alpha stage.

We wanted to take the opportunity to think about what public sector cloud technology procurement should look like. Our focus was to better understand Digital Marketplace users and their needs for buying and selling cloud services and technology.

Who we talked to

During the discovery we spoke to organisations and individuals from across the country to get a clearer understanding of their buying and selling needs. We spoke with people from both local and central government working in sectors such as healthcare, education and policing.

What we learned

Here’s an overview of our findings.

Users want better guidance

Users told us that although there is already G-Cloud guidance information online, it is often difficult to find as it exists in more than one location. Some users told us that knowing who to contact with questions about this was often confusing, as they weren’t sure if they should contact the Digital Marketplace team or the Crown Commercial Service team.

Going forward, we will be looking at how we can make it easier for G-Cloud users to easily find relevant guidance information. In particular, we will be focussing on how we can improve the user journey around this.

It’s difficult for buyers to find the product or service that matches what they need

Searching the G-Cloud catalogue frequently returns unexpected results. Users have to learn how to search effectively as searching is not intuitive. There is no shared terminology for the way G-Cloud products and services are being described. Suppliers often describe the same types of services in a variety of ways. This inconsistency in language makes it more difficult for buyers to find what they need. Suppliers told us that they resort to guesswork to find the keywords buyers are using when searching for services.

We’ll be looking at new ways we can improve this process so it’s clearer to all users. We want to understand how users describe the technology they are looking for to help them to find the right services through search.

The way products and services are organised doesn’t always match the way users think about them

We learned that the current way in which products and services are categorised (Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, Software as a Service, Specialist Cloud Services), does not always align to the way buyers and suppliers talk about these technologies. For example, a buyer may know that they need hosting to migrate data to a cloud-based service, but may not necessarily think ‘I need IaaS’.

We’ll be exploring how the current categories are being used, and whether these should change to be more in line with how users define their services.

Comparing and evaluating suppliers has become difficult

Buyers are finding it difficult to compare service listings and evaluate the differences between similar services. As a result they are using manual methods of comparison, which is time consuming.

We’ll be looking into how we can make it easier for users to compare services. This will mean understanding what information buyers are using to evaluate different services.

Existing G-Cloud functionality doesn't help to create an audit trail

Buyers need to create an audit trail as a part of the procurement process. They are frustrated that they have to resort to a manual process of taking screenshots and creating spreadsheets to do this. Buyers would like a simple solution within G-Cloud which would facilitate maintaining an audit trail.

We’ll be conducting research to understand what information is being captured to create audit trails.

What we’d like to do next

During the alpha phase we’ll be exploring new solutions to resolve the current challenges users are experiencing. We’ll also continue with our research to better understand where we can further improve the user journey.

We rely on our users to help make our products better, if you’d like to help us get this right, get in touch.

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  1. Comment by Stuart Sutherland posted on

    As a regular Digital Marketplace user, these developments sound very interesting and helpful.

    Do you have any idea about the timeframe for the G Cloud 9 framework to launch? I'm very interested in potentially buying services from a couple of suppliers that aim to be present in GC 9 and I'm keen to know how long I may have to wait, if that's possible to know at this stage.

    Best wishes,

    • Replies to Stuart Sutherland>

      Comment by Laura Flannery posted on

      Hi Stuart,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We anticipate that G-Cloud 9 will open for supplier applications in the first quarter of 2017, and go live in the second quarter of 2017.

      We'll share more specific dates in January.