G-Cloud 101

G-Cloud (RM1557ix) 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.

Digital Marketplace

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 11th iteration – G-Cloud 11 (check out the background and the history of the framework here). There have been 11 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.

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. Currently G-Cloud 10 has 3 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 new for G-Cloud 9 (and, in our opinion it is 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:

  • Lots 1 Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Lot 2 Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Lot 3 Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Lot 4 Specialists Cloud Services (SCS)

Alongside Lot redesign, CCS implemented some other notable G-Cloud changes since the 9th iteration.

G-Cloud spend

Since its inception, there has been £5.19bn worth of sales through the framework with 44% 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 10, 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.

 G-Cloud Spend data

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

£308m+G-Cloud business won by our clients.
6%of total £5.19bn spend awarded to our clients.
£3.5m+of G-Cloud services bought with us leading or supporting various projects.
238individual Public Sector bodies have bought our clients' services.

Eligibility

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:

  • 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 datacentre can list
  • 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 inforgraphic.

Accreditations and Information Security

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.

G-Cloud security category filters

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 blog ‘G-Cloud 9 data security: beyond the lollipop lady’.

We couldn’t talk information security and not mention GDPR and G-Cloud. In the run up to the 25th of May, 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 10 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

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:

  1. One, is to choose the supplier that meets the needs and that has the lowest price.
  2. 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 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:

  • 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 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.

The Benefits

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 to 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 are 10 reasons why you should be on G-Cloud 10.

 

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 10 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.

Download our recipe for a sizzling G-Cloud listing!

Your front-end listing

G-Cloud 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?

  • Think about your product name – if it is branded, it is likely that a buyer will never find you. As 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.

Supplementary Documents

  • Service Definition

For G-Cloud 9, CCS decided to make the Service Definition an optional document. However, we always recommend suppliers include one, as our recent analysis of G-Cloud 9 suppliers showed that 29% of suppliers with no sales had a missing service definition. 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’. Remember, if you are already on G-Cloud but didn’t upload a Service definition, there is still time!

  • Pricing Document

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:

  • 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

If that’s not enough, here’s how NOT to price your service for G-Cloud.

  • Terms and Conditions

Suppliers are required to issue their current terms and conditions. On G-Cloud 9, 50% of vendors with ZERO sales have non-compliant T&Cs. The service terms and conditions you provide can’t be changed while the framework is live.

  • SFIA Rate Card

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.

The main thing is for your listing to be compliant and optimised for sales.

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.

Download our G-Cloud listing best practice guide!

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!

Our Strategic Adviser Lindsay Smith says there are three parts to an winning G-Cloud Marketing Strategy:

  • Focus – Targeting the right buyers, understanding their motives and knowing when to give up on prospects that aren’t right for you.
  • Completeness – What buyers look for in your listing and the importance of making sure your listing and website are aligned.
  • Get Marketing – How you can use the assets you already have to engage with public sector buyers.

If that’s all a bit too in-depth for you, here is a few things to to get you going:

Download our setting a G-Cloud sales and marketing strategy report!

Selling on G-Cloud

Just like your marketing strategy, your sales strategy should also be tailored to the public sector.

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 buyer 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 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!

Download our G-Cloud infographic!

G-Cloud 11 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…