G-Cloud (RM1557.12) is a framework where supplier cloud-based solutions are made available through a front-end Catalogue called the Digital Marketplace. G-Cloud framework is THE place to be, for companies who are thinking about selling their cloud-based solutions to the UK government.
The Digital Marketplace, and all the frameworks included in it, is 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.
The framework was first open in 2012 and is now in its 12th iteration – G-Cloud 12. With the 12th iteration opening for supplier applications in Summer 2020, it’s currently running until September 2022 (due to a one year extension). The knock on effect being that we now wont see G-Cloud 13 until around then too.
It’s come a long way since its humble beginnings, and even between G-Cloud 11 and 12 we’ve seen progress and positive change to procurement with the framework. There have been 12 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 to get more information on the twelfth iteration of the framework, you can watch our recent G-Cloud 12 webinar here.
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 has 3 Lots:
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
This Lot is for applications that are typically accessed over a public or private network e.g. the internet and hosted in the cloud
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, in our opinion it was a welcome change!). After consulting suppliers following G-Cloud 8, CCS decided that the old Lot structure should be changed.
In previous iterations G-Cloud had four Lots:
Since its inception, there has been £9bn worth of sales through the framework with 39% of that spend awarded to SMEs. The majority of the business through G-Cloud has come from central government. This could be in part due to the governments commitment to spending £1 in every £3 with small businesses by 2020, and G-Cloud provides easy access to a range of smaller suppliers.
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, suppliers should be making an effort to educate them and tell them about the benefits of procuring through G-Cloud. After all, local government is under the same pressures 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.
Although G-Cloud doesn’t impose number 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:
In order to list on the G-Cloud framework, you don’t actually 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! If you want some more information on ISO27001 and how it affects the framework, check out our previous blog ‘G-Cloud 9 data security: beyond the lollipop lady’.
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 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.
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:
The Digital Marketplace buyers guide, and the framework agreement outlines four different types of criteria you can use when evaluating shortlisted suppliers under M.E.A.T:
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 buyer is to also to notify the unsuccessful suppliers and give them reasons as to 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. The call-off-contract is then completed and signed, after this the work can begin.
There’s a lot to say about the value of G-Cloud. Here are some key takeaways…
We could go on, but if you need further convincing here’s a breakdown of our 12 reasons to list on G-Cloud 12.
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:
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
This is what we mean when we say front-end listing. This is what a buyer will see when your service is returned in search results.
What makes a good listing?
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’.
Suppliers often struggle with the best way to present their pricing but it is vital you get your pricing right for G-Cloud! The best pricing documents are the ones that:
If that’s not enough, here’s how NOT to price your service for G-Cloud.
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!
This stands for ‘Skills for the Information Age’ and relates to the cost for professional services relating to your product or service. This document is also optional; but it is always good for suppliers 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 are five key steps – with top tips!
Our Strategic Adviser Lindsay Smith says there are three parts to an winning G-Cloud Marketing Strategy:
If that’s all a bit too in-depth for you, here is a few things to to get you going:
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:
The G-Cloud framework is a crowded marketplace, so in order 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. And, if you aren’t selling it isn’t too late to change that, you just need to find out why! In fact, suppliers can edit their listings during that G-Cloud iterations lifecycle (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 they’re not having any success.
G-Cloud 12 is now live. If you are scratching your head wondering why you haven’t made a sale, here are 5 reasons why you might not be selling on G-Cloud…