G-Cloud 101: What you need to know

Published on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 16:45
Written by Erin Hunter

Launched in 2012 to much fanfare, G-Cloud was designed by the government to provide a much-needed service encouraging public sector bodies to transition to procuring through the cloud.

However, there has been a lot confusion in the public sector about exactly what it is (combined with a healthy dose of industry cynicism), and how best to use (and benefit) from it. It hasn't helped matters that it has been rebranded multiple times, with another mooted name change soon from CloudStore to Digital Marketplace.

But, regardless of branding, G-Cloud is here to stay. With more than 1,200 suppliers on board already, and more than 13,000 services offered across 4 'Lots' G-Cloud is only going to get bigger, and more critical to the public sector.

While the number of suppliers available seems overwhelming, it's positive for the public sector because it gives SMEs the opportunity provide their offerings to a much wider audience within the public sector, an area which was traditionally limited to the multinational behmoths. G-Cloud levels the playing field, and these smaller vendors shouldn't be discounted, as they can offer more attractive pricing and products than larger vendors selling similar wares. Buyers, in turn, benefit from a much broader offering of products and services in one place, with clarity of pricing not traditionally seen in the public sector.

However, this will require a change of mindset for procurement departments. Traditionally accustomed to negotiating with every supplier on price, it may take some adjustment to not bartering for every service.

The vast majority of products included have a set price because what you're procuring is a known commodity, and had to run through a standard process to be included in the G-Cloud framework providing buyers with a degree of reassurance. But the waters can get muddied if you're aiming to procure professional services, so it is vital that you are clear on what you expect in terms of deliverables from vendors, so there is no confusion on the value and return you expect to receive.

This broad spectrum of service offerings presents a great opportunity for the public sector, who should be looking to take advantage of cloud-based services in a risk-free way, and look for vendors who enable users to try before they buy – giving buyers the ability to ensure that they know exactly the service that they will get, and have more flexibility for future expansion.

One of the greatest benefits of the cloud is that it democratises services, and means in most instances, that users can trial new services, without an immense up-front cost. In addition, cloud-based services offer users access to significantly more powerful computing and service capabilities – opening up more opportunities to effectively address and deliver tangible results. Used in the right way, the procurement of these services through G-Cloud can result in the bottom-line efficiencies and savings so lauded in the public sector.

While G-Cloud may not be perfect, it is the future of Government procurement and something that the public sector should embrace sooner rather than later.

Rosslyn Analytics has recently been included in the G-Cloud framework, and offers its spend analytics services to the public sector for free.

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