SMEs can offer the best value for money
Therefore, even if a small business can offer the best value for money solution, it needs to be certain it can go the distance before committing to the project. The idea of a long, drawn out process can put some businesses off the idea of public sector contracts, but for businesses that provide IT services, particularly cloud-based services that will already match the requirements sought after by public bodies, implementation time may not be such a big concern.
A short cut for IT service providers
The Government has committed to all new and redesigned public services conforming to the 'digital by default' service standard, estimating potential public sector savings of more than £1.7 billion each year. This initiative represents a significant opportunity for IT service providers that want to enter the public sector market. The new G-Cloud initiative encourages all public sector bodies to purchase IT products and services on a 'pay as you go' basis from several accredited suppliers, rather than entering into long contracts with single large IT providers. Small IT businesses that can offer their services on this basis are in a unique position to benefit from this recommended format.
With the G-Cloud format, public sector bodies are encouraged to purchase required services from a range of different providers, mixing and matching as necessary. This approach means that public bodies can benefit from a combination of niche products, from different specialist providers and at different preferential prices. Not only does this approach drastically reduce expenditure, but it allows more businesses to benefit from public contracts, stimulating the economy, facilitating innovation and supporting local businesses.
The G-Cloud framework's online marketplace 'CloudStore' catalogues more than 13,000 cloud based services. If an SME IT service provider has a cloud based service that it wants to available to public sector bodies on the CloudStore, the service goes through OJEU tendering beforehand. This simplifies the process and shortens the time it takes for future deals to become operational. The public sector organisation can therefore avoid the overheads of further tendering and can purchase directly from
SMEs with no delay.
Whilst there has been a lot of uptake from central government bodies, local authorities have been under utilising the CloudStore. Despite this, SMEs have netted 57% of the total spent through G-Cloud. Local authorities are committed to supporting local businesses and are under aware of the effectiveness of G-Cloud at realising this opportunity to do so.
G-Cloud represents a short cut for smaller IT firms that offer cloud-based services to penetrate the public sector market without having to go through some of the longer procedures needed to secure contracts. If local businesses want to expand into public sector contracts, they need to make the most of this this key market.
Go for it
The local IT SME community has a responsibility to support local authorities in fully utilising G-Cloud and advertise its availability. Making G-Cloud a successful platform will further demonstrate how effective the mid market in the UK and the rest of Europe is in supporting the public sector. This will lead to increased governmental commitment to support the SME community by creating further access to public sector contracts, for a wider range of service providers.
- Simon Shorthose has been ReadSoft UK's Managing Director since 2009.
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