Best Practice - Procuring cloud through an agile framework: the G-Cloud example
The UK’s G-Cloud is the seventh iteration of a collection of framework agreements that allows UK government departments and public sector organisations to buy offthe-shelf, pay-as-you-go cloud solutions from a list of preapproved vendors through an online store (the Digital Marketplace) without needing to run a full tender or competitive procurement process; No OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union), Invitation to Tender (ITT), Request for price (RFP), request for quote (RFQ), request for information (RFI) or negotiation necessary.
This approach has brought agile, iterative techniques into procurement with regular refreshes and updates and a maximum contract duration of 24 months. A new iteration of the G-Cloud framework is released about every 6-9 months. This allows the regular inclusion of new suppliers who are OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) compliant. The G-Cloud aims to promote transparency and make it easy to introduce new suppliers to the UK public sector market which can compare all supplier products and companies listed side by side in an on-screen catalogue. The catalogue showcases supplier’s service information, including service definitions, pricing and supplier’s terms and conditions.
As of January 2016 G-Cloud provides access to over 21,000 services. It has achieved cumulative sales of £1bn (€1.3bn) of commoditised cloud based services predominantly SaaS, some 75% to central government, and more than half coming from SMEs. Potential suppliers can apply to sell services when a new version of a framework is published on the OJEU. On average, an OJEU will be open for 6 weeks, every 6 to 9 months. The information required includes a short service description, key product features and benefits and pricing details which remain fixed for the duration of the iteration.
Suppliers using G-Cloud do not need to be based in the UK to apply, but need to agree to the terms of the framework agreement and call-off contract, which are governed by the law of England and Wales. Scaling up this approach for use across the EU requires harmonisation of those agreements.