Why G-Cloud is here to 'widen the playing field' for SMEs

As G-Cloud 6 goes live, Dan Sutherland, CEO of Carrenza, discusses how G-Cloud has simplified the selection and bidding process for public sector work and has opened up new and exciting opportunities for SMEs.

There is no doubt in my mind that G-Cloud has helped to widen the playing field and open up public sector opportunities to SME suppliers like Carrenza and at the end of the day that was what it was designed for.

G-Cloud’s "quicker, cheaper and more competitive" cloud services to quote Francis Maude, will also help the Government to meet its "digital by default" strategy and service standard.

That despite making up half of suppliers, SME's only account for 10.5 per cent of sales doesn't surprise me. Many of the services currently offered by SME's are speculative, they allow SMEs to test demand while they invest in their ability to deliver.

I suspect when G-Cloud 6 is released it will show the successful suppliers offering many more services than they did under G-Cloud 5. It's also very easy to get onto the framework, but it’s not very easy to be ready to sell things; processes need to change, services need to become compliant, significant investment is needed.

These are barriers to SME suppliers that they have to commit to getting over, that's expensive and it takes time.

Selling to government customers is not the same as selling to commercial ones. It's not initially about talking to people, relationships, or traditional business trust. That comes later, after you have delivered.

Getting that first win with a given client is about making your services easy to buy by ensuring that they meet or exceed the requirements laid down. My team have put a lot of effort into looking at what Government wants to buy and tailoring a public sector offering accordingly.

Some suppliers have missed this point, and instead have just taken the services they already sell, and offered them via G-Cloud and looked at it in terms of ‘if you build it, they will come'. What they should be doing is investing in their product to make sure it does the job government needs it to do.

For vendors, the current structure of G-Cloud means that we have to be smart. We retain our relationships by being good at what we do, and by being fairly priced, not because our customer can’t get away.

The focus on collaboration follows the principle that there is enough work here so no good vendor is going to starve. For the customer, effective collaboration ensures service continuity and cost effectiveness. It’s a good thing.

Changing the way Government procures its services is also a long-term process, but it should show progression, if the numbers look like this in a year, it will be more of a problem.

Overall; this kind of change is not only time consuming, it is organic and it relies on the flexibility and ingenuity of all parties working together to develop the processes and build the products that government wants to buy.

In the long run it will reap real benefits both for government and the citizen in delivering cheaper, more agile services.

For vendors, those who embrace the process and the paradigm, it offers the chance to build long lasting and valuable commercial relationships.