Get to grips with the G-Cloud framework

Ultimate Guide to G-Cloud

Screenshot of the CCS public procurement gateway where G-Cloud is hosted

Everything you need to know...

G-Cloud 101

G-Cloud (RM1557.13) is a framework where supplier cloud-based solutions are made available through a front-end Catalogue called the Public Procurement Gateway (PPG). This is a change of platforms for the 13th iteration – up until G-Cloud 12 the framework had been accessible via the Digital Marketplace. G-Cloud is THE place to be, for companies who are thinking about selling their cloud-based solutions to the UK government.

The Public Procurement Gateway is a new procurement platform managed by Crown Commercial Service (CCS). CCS is an executive agency and trading fund of the Cabinet Office of the UK Government. Their role is to improve the government’s commercial and procurement activity.

What is G-Cloud?

The G-Cloud framework first opened in 2012 and has now reached its 13th iteration – G-Cloud 13. This latest iteration went Live for all suppliers and buyers in 2022.

It’s come a long way since its humble beginnings, and have seen big changes in recent years with G-Cloud 13. In total, there have been 13 calls for contract so far in which suppliers were able to list their services on G-Cloud. The G-Cloud framework is uncapped so, if the application is compliant, an unlimited number of suppliers can join the framework.

If you want more information on the current 13th iteration of the framework, you can watch our recent G-Cloud 13 webinar here.

We’re now waiting for G-Cloud 14 to open for applications, and it’s due to do just that in mid-February 2024. Watch our video below for more information on G-Cloud 14, or click here for our FAQs on the upcoming iteration.

Watch our recent expert session held by CEO Chris Farthing.

What is in scope?

The G-Cloud Lots

The G-Cloud framework is divided into categories (Lots) and suppliers can apply for one or three depending on what solutions they offer to the public sector. The Lots of G-Cloud have come a long way since their beginnings, with a lot of growth over the years! Currently, G-Cloud continues to have 3 main Lots…

  • Lot 1: Cloud Hosting (IaaS and PaaS)

    Cloud platform or infrastructure services that help buyers do at least one of the following: Deploy, manage and run software and provision and use processing, storage or networking resources.

  • Lot 2: Cloud Software (SaaS)

    This Lot is for applications that are typically accessed over a public or private network e.g. the internet and hosted in the cloud.

  • Lot 3: Cloud Support

    This Lot is for services that help buyers set up and maintain their cloud software or hosting services.

This lot structure was introduced for G-Cloud 9 and remains in place today (and, in our opinion, it was a welcome change!).

G-Cloud’s Lot 4

G-Cloud 13 sees the introduction of a brand-new Lot. Running separately to Lots 1-3, for end-to-end cloud services, it has some changes to the traditional G-Cloud makeup. Here are some key points:

It isn’t held within the PPG alongside Lots 1 to 3 – instead, it will sit on its own.

Direct Award will not be possible, and it will follow traditional framework bidding (not catalogue-style).

Lot 4 is a competitive application with capped places, requiring more work at the application stage

Lot 4 is for large-scale transition projects. This includes planning, setup, migration, security services, ongoing support and more. Suppliers in this Lot will have to provide all of these provisions, for larger projects.

 

G-Cloud Spend

Since its inception, there has been £16bn+ worth of sales through the framework with 40% of that spend awarded to SMEs. The majority of the business through G-Cloud has come from central government.

The G-Cloud uptake has been slower in local government and the wider sector. More needs to be done in engaging the wider sector in using G-Cloud, by CCS and GDS but also by suppliers themselves. If you are speaking to a public sector buyer who isn’t familiar with G-Cloud, make an effort to educate them and tell them about the benefits of procuring through G-Cloud. After all, local government is under the same pressure as central government to transform and meet citizen demand for its services.

 

Don’t just take our word for it – you can find the full spend breakdown on our G-Cloud sales dashboard.

Our G-Cloud experience

Here’s a little bit about our experience with the flagship technology framework

  • 7%+

    of total £12.8bn spend awarded to our clients

    We've worked with clients since 2013 to make sure they're winning contracts through the framework. With our clients accounting for a lot of big value contracts going through G-Cloud.

  • £1bn

    (at least) cumulative business won by our clients across G-Cloud and DOS

    Our amazing clients are still winning high value contracts. With our support, they've gone on to recently break the £1bn mark!

What you need to have ready…

Eligibility for G-Cloud

Although G-Cloud doesn’t impose numerous restrictions on suppliers, naturally it does have its own rules and regulations. Not every company can get on the framework. Here are a few no-no’s…

Suppliers must be cloud companies! – The first rule of G-Cloud (and no it’s not we don’t talk about G-Cloud) is: suppliers must be selling a cloud-based solution. No hardware solutions can be listed on the framework.

Suppliers must fit into one of the G-Cloud categories or Lots.

No ‘colocation’ services can be listed. For example, equipment the buyer rents from a supplier’s data centre can be listed.

G-Cloud is for off the shelf solutions! If you offer bespoke development this is not a framework for you. Instead of G-Cloud, you should be looking at listing on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) framework. For more information on the differences between DOS and G-Cloud check out our Ultimate framework battle: G-Cloud versus DOS infographic.

 

 

Accreditations and Information Security

To list on the G-Cloud framework, you don’t have to have any formal security certifications.

However, we often advise our clients that as a bare minimum they should look into getting Cyber Essentials Certified. Cyber Essentials shows an understanding and basic commitment to security.

If suppliers, want to go a step further than they can apply to get ISO271001 certified. ISO 27001:2013 is an international standard for information security. Another benefit to becoming ISO27001 is that it is actually a filter that buyers can use to whittle down their shortlist.

So, if you are looking to gain an advantage over a competitor then definitely get yourself accredited!

We couldn’t talk information security and not mention GDPR and G-Cloud. Before May 2018, CCS notified all G-Cloud suppliers that they would be updating the terms of the G-Cloud framework in line with GDPR.

There are now specific clauses within the G-Cloud framework agreement and call-off contract covering the supplier requirements in line with GDPR. We also advise suppliers to detail their information security processes and internal GDPR procedures within their Service Definitions.

 

Evaluation and award on G-Cloud

There are two ways buyers can evaluate and award a contract on G-Cloud.

Firstly, if after a compliant search the buyer ends up with only one supplier on G-Cloud that meets their needs, they can direct award. (One of the reasons we love G-Cloud!).

When buyers are faced with multiple suppliers that meet their requirements, a buyer can make the final decision in two ways:

One is to choose the supplier that meets the needs and that has the lowest price.

Two, and more likely to be used, is the M.E.A.T process or the most economically advantageous tender. This is where a buyer will evaluate multiple suppliers (usually around 3-5) against a set of predetermined criteria. As a supplier, you should be aware of the guidance around what buyers can and can’t ask you if you appear within their shortlist.

The Pubic Procurement Gateway buyers guide and the framework agreement outline four different types of criteria you can use when evaluating shortlisted suppliers under M.E.A.T:

Whole-life cost, cost-effectiveness, price and running costs. Technical merit and functional fit. After-sales and service management. Non-functional characteristics.

 

The final selection should be based on best fit rather than ruling out suppliers that don’t meet your current contract or an ideal set of terms.

Once a buyer has awarded a contract the winning supplier is notified. Best practice for buyers is to inform the unsuccessful suppliers and offer the reasons why they weren’t successful, so they can improve their bids next time.

After the contract has been awarded the supplier and the buyer complete what is called a ‘call-off contract’. This will include any specific terms the parties have agreed to. The call-off contract is then completed and signed. After this, the work can begin.

Check out more from our Knowledge Hub

See more

Webinars and Videos

Boost Your Public Sector Bidding Strategy

Short Reads

Why Completing Bid Retrospectives is Important

Webinars and Videos

Plan Your 2024 Framework Pipeline

The benefits of G-Cloud

There’s a lot to say about the value of G-Cloud. Here are some key takeaways…

 

For suppliers:

G-Cloud is open to cloud suppliers of all sizes. Previously, smaller suppliers may have found it difficult to invest time and resources in a long framework application process.

The simplified application process creates a fairer and more competitive marketplace

G-Cloud allows buyers to direct award a contract. This is great news for small suppliers of innovative solutions!

 

 

For buyers:

The framework has made it easier for buyers to find out about smaller suppliers who could best meet their requirements.

G-Cloud has sped up the procurement process and in doing so reduced the cost. The framework has had a massive impact on public sector procurement. For every £1 spent on the framework, £1 is saved.

G-Cloud has provided a standard basis for IT procurement, for example in contractual terms and conditions and by increasing transparency.

We could go on, but if you need further convincing here’s a breakdown of our 13 reasons to list on G-Cloud 13.

G-Cloud Software Listing Example

Have more success through G-Cloud

Our G-Cloud top tips

Applying for G-Cloud

Applying for G-Cloud is not easy, especially if you want to have a quality and compliant listing. Hopeful suppliers must make sure they dedicate the right amount of time and internal resources during the 35-day application window. Not sure how long it might take you to apply?  Our G-Cloud application roadmap gives you a good indication of how long each step of the process might take.

The G-Cloud application is made up of the following:

  • Pass/fail questions around background and compliance
  • Questions around your solution and service offering which make up the front-end of your listing
  • Supplementary Document:
  • Service Definition
  • Pricing document
  • Suppliers own terms
  • Optional SFIA rate card

Before we delve into each of these elements individually, remember each part of your listing should be crafted with your buyer in mind and be easy for them to navigate.

Your front-end listing

What makes a good listing?

Think about your product name – if it is branded, it is likely that a buyer will never find you. Searching for a product name isn’t a compliant way to buy on G-Cloud.

Take time over your service summary and features and benefits. These are your searchable terms.

Answer all the technical questions to the best of your ability. These sections are difficult to change later and relate to the filters on the framework. This means if a buyer has a longlist and wants to refine the search results to a shortlist and you haven’t included that you are ISO27001 certified, you won’t appear in the search results.

Consider whether you’re listing too many services. Can you cut down on how many you have? Listing more isn’t always a good thing. Quality can be better than quantity in a lot of cases.

 

Service Definition: After G-Cloud 9, CCS decided to make the Service Definition an optional document. However, this was short-lived and changed again, as from G-Cloud 12 Service Definitions were made mandatory (along with other changes made for the 12th iteration). So suppliers will have to include this document in their application. A Service Definition is a chance for suppliers to further detail the features of their service without word count restriction.

Take the time to create a great Service Definition, it could be the difference between you and another supplier. Here are ‘9 Steps to G-Cloud Service Definition Success’.

 

Pricing Document: Suppliers often struggle with the best way to present their pricing but you must get your pricing right for G-Cloud! The best pricing documents are the ones that:

Plainly state their costs. Aren’t over-designed Include all additional set-up or training fees. Do not switch currency mid-way through. Include examples.

Here’s how NOT to price your service on G-Cloud.

 

Terms and Conditions: Suppliers are required to issue their current terms and conditions. The service terms and conditions you provide can’t be changed while the framework is live. In our experience, most of the suppliers not doing any business on the framework have non-compliant Ts&Cs!

 

SFIA Rate Card: This stands for ‘Skills for the Information Age’ and relates to the cost of professional services relating to your product or service. This document is also optional, but it is always good for suppliers to include one to cover any future support a buyer may want.

As there are many elements to applying for G-Cloud, we recommend creating and using a checklist so you stay on track. Another tip is to go onto the framework and take a look at other listings to get some inspiration. For more advice on submitting for G-Cloud, here are our five key steps – with top tips!

 

Sales & Marketing on G-Cloud

Marketing on G-Cloud

Just listing on G-Cloud will not be enough to start making sales and get noticed by the public sector. You have to first get marketing!

Come up with a content strategy. Start researching your target market and begin creating content that resonates with them.

– Mention your G-Cloud listing on your website, maybe this is a dedicated page or even just a sentence on your product page.

– Start building up your reputation on social media and at events.

– Come up with a content strategy. Start researching your target market and begin creating content that resonates with them.

 

Selling on G-Cloud

Just like your marketing strategy, your sales strategy should also be tailored to the public sector. We always give suppliers some good recommendations of what to do during the application period – it’s just about getting on to the framework, after all.

Make sure you:

Zero in on a target buyer. Work out which departments or sectors could best make use of your solution and work on getting in front of them

Learn how G-Cloud works. Knowing how buyers can purchase through the framework will give your buyers confidence that you know what you are talking about.

Use the sales data! It is publicly available and is a great source of information regarding who is buying and what!

 

The G-Cloud framework is a crowded marketplace so to be one of the suppliers making sales on the framework you need to make sure you have a great listing and a G-Cloud sales and marketing strategy. If you aren’t selling, it isn’t too late to change that – you just need to find out why! Suppliers can edit their listings, as long as it does not materially change the provided service or product. There are some very valuable components to the G-Cloud listing that suppliers should be keeping up to date, and as we said, changing them if they’re not generating some form of success.

Want to better your procurement processes?
Let’s get to work.