What is G-Cloud 13?
G-Cloud 13 is the newest iteration of the G-Cloud framework, launched in 2012, which is used by the UK Public Sector to locate and procure a diverse range of cloud-based computing services. This government framework is open to businesses of all sizes who operate within the digital information and technology sectors and is due for renewal in September 2022. Indeed, almost 40% of the total spend thus far has been with SMEs, driven by the government’s commitment to spend £1 in every £3 with small to medium enterprises.
Thus far, over the previous twelve iterations, the spend for this framework has totalled over £9bn, with upwards of £965million being spent on G-Cloud 12 alone. This framework continues to appeal to both buyers and suppliers due to the front-end “directory-style” layout and the ability to use both mini-competitions and direct work awards to procure services more efficiently.
Previously, the G-Cloud framework has been separated into three distinct lots; Cloud Hosting, Cloud Software and Cloud Support. However, as the documentation for G-Cloud 13 is yet to be released, many across the sector are left speculating on how changes will be addressed within the newest framework format. To date, the biggest area of spend continues to be Professional Services, with huge growth in the current iteration, G-Cloud 12, for Cloud Software.
Why is it important?
As this framework services the whole of the UK Public Sector, from local authorities to the NHS and everything in between, suppliers of all sizes see it as critical to be involved. There are over 52,000 listed organisations who can buy from the Digital Marketplace, presenting a huge number of captive buyers to work with. Although, to add some additional context, ten organisations, including the Home Office and HMRC, have accounted for just under half of the total spend (47%) for G-Cloud 12 thus far.
Many cloud-based products services procured within the public sector pass through this framework, however the uptake from smaller local government sectors has been slightly slower. It is thought there could be a push for a higher engagement from these buyers with G-Cloud 13 – more buyers, potentially leading to more work and a higher spend.
What has changed from G-Cloud 12?
This is the £9bn question… As of yet, few announcements have been made as to how much will have changed from the application process of G-Cloud 12. There have been several market engagement activities thus far, with supplier surveys and customer feedback influencing the newest framework requirements.
The CCS has specified that there will be a focus on improving the end to end buying journey and T&CS, greater inclusion for the provision of day rate cloud support services and a drive to increase competition in the buying process itself. Conversation surrounding these changes could signal more structured mini competitions moving forward, reducing the amount of direct awards.
The push to increase barriers to entry for the framework can already been seen in the Digital Specialists and Programmes framework (an iteration of the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework), where there is definite intent to narrow down the overwhelming numbers of suppliers.
Additionally, due to the ever-changing nature of public sector procurement, the latest policies will need to be included within G-Cloud 13; expect a focus on social value and prompt payments.
What do I need to consider when bidding for frameworks?
A main point that we always raise with clients is that winning a place on a framework is one thing, however this does not automatically guarantee you work from it. To do this requires additional time, planning and keeping your finger on the pulse to make sure you don’t miss out on any chances to bid for mini competitions.
However, the G-Cloud framework operates slightly differently in that services are openly advertised to all potential buyers, with a kind of “shop window” style directory. Contracts can then be awarded via mini competitions or direct awards, with buyers able to browse through contract solutions from many different suppliers. This allows for a quicker and more competitive process, but it also means that it is be even more critical that your profile attracts buyers from the off. Visibility is absolutely crucial as this framework has previously been uncapped thus far – although of course this remains to be seen with G-Cloud 13. As long as an application is compliant, an unlimited amount of suppliers can join.
The G-Cloud framework requires suppliers to complete an extensive application form, similar in direction to a standard selection questionnaire document, and indicate the individual services they can provide. G-Cloud 12, as it stands, presents each individual solution profile with an introductory section, a brief synopsis of the service provided. These blurbs, created by the suppliers at the time of application must reflect key needs of the buyers, as much like search engine optimisation, these few sentences will direct buyers to your solutions through search terms.
Buyers can, at present under G-Cloud 12, filter results based upon solutions presented based upon their key criteria, and with over 38,000 listings from more than 5,200 suppliers currently live for this framework on Digital Marketplace, getting straight to the point will pay off, quite literally.
It has been noted however, with previous G-Cloud versions, the criteria given by the buyer may not always appear applicable to the solution they select, often presenting a “square peg, round hole” conundrum.
Suppliers will also give standard rates for the individual services they provide on this service profile page, along with other basic company information. There are several areas where buyers cannot question suppliers, such as requesting services out with those advertised or negotiate on pricing; if these things aren’t automatically clear on your service definition, the buyer is highly unlikely to work with you.
Are you eligible to apply?
Although there is not a restriction on the number of suppliers that can be on the G-Cloud framework as it stands, there are a few key areas to note when deciding whether it is the right fit for your business. Suppliers must of course be selling a cloud-based solution, no solely hardware-based solutions are allowed within this framework.
In addition, suppliers must be able to fit their services into one of the lots allocated on the framework (these are yet to be announced for G-Cloud 13). Should your services be more along the lines of providing bespoke and adaptive solutions to additional digital requirements, there are two additional frameworks which may be a better fit; the Digital Specialists and Programmes framework, currently being tendered, or the Digital Outcomes framework, anticipated for release in early 2022.
In its current iteration, the G-Cloud 12 framework itself doesn’t require suppliers to have any specific security certifications, however this could also be updated with the release of G-Cloud 13, with credentials such as Cyber Essentials being now seen as mandatory in certain circumstances.
How can Thornton & Lowe help me get to access this framework?
Whilst the specifics of the G-Cloud 13 requirements are yet to be known, there are several areas that Thornton & Lowe can support you with to ensure once the tender is released, you are in the best position to win work.
We offer expert bid writing and big training services, in order to support on both the application forms and upskilling your team to ensure they are ready to bid successfully. Understanding the latest advancements in procurement best practice could be the ideal way to begin preparations for the release of the G-Cloud 13 framework. Equipping yourself and your team with this key knowledge will ensure you approach all new tenders with clarity and confidence moving forward.
To this end, we offer detailed bidding masterclasses, including Bidding for Beginners course and a 2 Day Bid and Tender Writing Masterclass. Both of these courses have been developed around industry best practice and direct input from procurement teams, creating a rounded learning approach.
Our team of highly experienced bid writers can assist you to complete the necessary applications and ensure the key evidence you may require to be compliant for the G-Cloud 13 framework are in place. With several team members having in-depth experience of winning work from these frameworks, we approach these contracts from a position of knowledge, understanding and success.
Thornton & Lowe can help you add significant value to your offering, showcasing your services to the best of your abilities in order to win work on this acutely competitive framework.