We’re saying goodbye to another eventful year for public procurement. Many changes have come into play (more of which we’ll see next year!). Many people have also debated the effectiveness of major frameworks such as G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes. It’s been a year of changing attitudes and processes.
In 2023, we’ve worked with many amazing technology suppliers to provide impactful solutions to the UK Government. We’ve experienced a wide range of highs and lows this past year. We’ve supported companies through Network Services and advised SMEs on how to best use the G-Cloud catalogue to win contracts. We’ll touch on all these areas more in this recap blog, as well as how Advice Cloud has evolved as an organisation over the year!
Going further than getting you listed
As the year wraps up, the UK public sector procurement landscape has changed significantly. Increasing complexity and competition within procurement frameworks are some notable ones. Suppliers must now achieve top scores to secure a place, signalling a need for exceptional quality and innovative offerings.
Additionally, the increasing focus on social value in procurement mirrors a shift towards responsible, community-oriented purchasing. This trend opens avenues for specialist advice and support. It ensures suppliers align their offerings with these evolving priorities.
Advice Cloud has adapted to these changes. We have evolved from simply helping organisations get listed on frameworks to becoming a strategic partner. We’re very proud of helping our clients win competitive places alongside some of the ‘big players’ in the market!
This year, however, suppliers have realised that getting listed on these routes to market is just the beginning. We’ve been saying it for years. Our work in 2023 has solidified our commitment to partnering with suppliers to improve their processes over time. We ensure competitiveness and compliance, which in turn will help to boost their internal capacity.
As we’ve said, it doesn’t stop at getting listed! 2023 saw us team up with suppliers in the bidding process. We have worked with many clients to qualify, strategise, and win high-value bids for UK Government contracts. This process has also seen intensified competition. AI tools and a growing number of market entrants partly fuel this. These developments offer opportunities for efficiency and innovation. They also present challenges, such as the risk of generic, non-specific responses.
This scenario underscores the critical role of external consultants and experts in providing tailored guidance, comprehensive proposal reviews, and stringent quality control. As suppliers strive to meet and exceed the heightened expectations in public sector procurement there is a clear need for support. Looking ahead, we see a continued evolution of these trends. It will likely increase the need for such specialised support.
We launched our new website!
In the early months of 2023, we launched our brand-new website. We worked hard to make sure our new content and pages reflected how we now support clients. As the world’s only GovTech Buyability™ Mentors, Advice Cloud focuses on collaborating with technology suppliers to improve public services. We prioritise the idea that getting listed on a framework is a good first step, but there’s a lot more work we can support you with to be buyable!
We gave you access to as much free advice as possible
This year we added over 35 pieces of new free content to our Knowledge Hub. This includes our revamped guides for Sales & Marketing and Social Media. It also includes our 2024 White Paper and many smaller, easily digestible blogs. You can find them all here in our expansive Knowledge Hub.
We also hosted 6 webinars across the year, with over 750 registrants. Our ‘Building an action plan for 2024’ webinar stole the limelight. Over 100 of you tuned in live to understand why we’re so excited about 2024. Now, it’s just a matter of days away! If you didn’t catch this one, be sure to give it a watch here.
2023 was a big year for face-to-face events. We host our Client & Partner Day in the first quarter of every year. This one was our first in-person event since February 2020 – 3 years! We had our great friend and advisor Jos Creese host our three panelists Neal Smith, Emilia Hogarth and Rob McMillan. It was great to finally see the others in the industry that we spent so much time working with through the screen.
Our CEO Chris Farthing and Managing Director Ella Grant have each spoken as guests at various webinars and events. Right at the beginning of the year, Ella spoke at techUK’s SME Online Forum. This particular one focused on social value in creating smart cities. Chris recently joined Stotles and techUK for a session on ‘How to unlock Central Government procurement in 2024’. And in October he appeared at APMP’s BIDx The Big One in Birmingham!
Developing our organisational values
We’ve been making changes to match the industry and lead by example in the procurement world.
Advice Cloud team members underwent various trainings. As a group, we attended a Carbon Literacy training in February. This required us to take individual and company-wide pledges to reduce carbon emissions.
We are working on our B Corp certification – we’re not there yet, but we are on our way to becoming certified! If you’ve been through this process, you’ll know a lot is going on behind the scenes right now. We’re excited to soon be part of a global business community that aims to balance purpose and profit. If you’re unsure of what B Corp UK is, you can learn all about the community here. In a nutshell, these organisations are committed to high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
The shift to a 4-Day Week
This is very new to us and as of today (Friday 22nd December) we are finishing up our 4th week of the trial! It’s been a move Advice Cloud have thought about making for a few years now. Last year we found a local study project with the University of Sussex, which focuses on having healthier and happier staff. Not only has this provided us with a helping hand, but we will also receive clear clinical results after the trial. We are in the midst of a 12-week trial, and we plan to continue through 2024!
Enough about us – what happened in the industry?
Moving away from the Digital Marketplace
This was a controversial move from Crown Commercial Service. Many suppliers and buyers claimed the old Digital Marketplace was much more user-friendly than the Bravo platform. With the move, we saw the loss of supplier transparency which was particularly missed! You can read more about this topic in CEO Chris Farthing’s LinkedIn post and comments here.
G-Cloud 13 Extension
On 20th June, CCS announced the extension of G-Cloud 13 by 12 months from 8th November 2023 to 8th November 2024. This had a huge negative effect on many suppliers. Suppliers listed on G-Cloud 13 cannot add new solutions or make changes to existing solutions while the framework is live. This includes increasing pricing, adding new features, and amending T&Cs. An extension of this iteration also means a delay to G-Cloud 14!
We surveyed suppliers to see what they thought of the extension – find our results and analysis here.
The New Procurement Bill
In slightly more positive news, we also saw the proposed changes to the Procurement Bill in October. The new legislation creates some barriers. It will become another change to the landscape that suppliers have to navigate. But ultimately, it should improve processes. Find Managing Director Ella Grant’s analysis of What the Procurement Act 2023 means for suppliers in our Knowledge Hub here.
A look forward to 2024 with Managing Director Ella Grant
“2024 is a G-Cloud year (which isn’t every year any more, sad face!) This means Advice Cloud gets to meet many innovative tech suppliers. Our work on G-Cloud is at a different scale to other frameworks and I’m always fascinated (this will be my 6th G-Cloud!) to hear about the amazing solutions that are new to the market. They can go a real way towards helping some of society’s biggest challenges. It’s the year at least 9 other CCS tech frameworks are opening. Some major ones include DOS 7, Management Consultancy Services 4, and Technology Services 4. We’re preparing to be busy and looking to beat the targets we set ourselves for the proportion of clients we help to get listed that are SMEs. This is very important to our purpose!
We’re also continuing to strengthen our progressive ways of working. We support self-management practices and hold team-wide business strategy sessions. Currently, we’re trialling a 4-day week and launching new people policies that will support folks through life’s ups and downs.
We wish a happy New Year to all our wonderful clients, past and present. And, of course, also to those who just like to read our stuff. Thanks for being with us!”
A final word from Chris
“2023 has been one of the most challenging years I’ve known for tech suppliers in Government. Rampant inflation with very little leeway to increase costs. Skills shortages. Cabinet office throttling the supply chain with its heavily enforced FVRA requirements. CCS seemingly moving the SME dial back 10 years. The return of BIG IT. I could go on! But, there is plenty of light shining.
This year saw the award of 4 major frameworks that we helped with. Network Services 3, Tepas 2, Cloud Compute 2 and HMRC/CCS DALAS. All clients we assisted on these were successful with many scoring 100% quality. Suppliers that have the energy to continue working in the Govtech arena have done well. Many of our SMEs are really getting to grips with Social Value. Learning how to position solutions and ways of working in the best possible light against the “Value-washing” from the traditional supply chain is a skill.
This year at TechUK’s Central Government Council, I have been especially impressed by my colleagues’ work. The focus across 3 key themes has bridged the gap between Gov & the supply chain with lots more to come! 2024 will bring us the long-awaited procurement reforms, a remarkable team effort led by Lindsay Maguire. I hope the ambitious programme isn’t hampered by poorly delivered tech. Here’s looking at the CAS tool, which has been a mini-disaster for buyers and suppliers.
Finally, I have to raise my hat to my amazing team at AC. This year, they have performed miracles in often bumpy conditions. They always do so with a smile and a relentless focus on customer success.
Wishing you the very best for the festive season ahead. Onwards into ‘Frameworkmaggedon’ of 2024.”