Important Changes to the GCloud should have been considered earlier
GDS has blogged that the next iteration of the GCloud, the 9th, will feature a major re-structure and they are about to finish a buyer and supplier survey on lot structures. They promise the tender for G9 will be out in March and it would appear that this major re-think has driven the delay to the usual tender frequency.
Given the GDS mantra of “what is the user need?” it seems entirely appropriate to restructure the framework to fit with real world users’ ‘norms’ and expectations. Most buyers, especially those outside of ICT, don’t think of services in the GCloud’s current four categories, they think of them in terms of outcome. Generally I think that one of the GCloud’s greatest strengths is to transfer some of the buying power and intelligence from procurement teams to end users, so anything that enhances this and makes the process more open is to be applauded, even if it is a little late.
However I think more criticism is due in relation to the GCloud procurement process. It is a shame that GDS and CCS are only working on it now, apparently to enable easier comparison between listings and the audit trail to support the buying process which is so crucial to the GCloud.
My concern relates to uptake and usage of the GCloud. The government has spent in the region of £35bn on ICT since the GCloud’s inception in 2012. Some delay in pickup of this relatively radical concept was to be expected. Yet despite the introduction of a (G) Cloud First policy in 2013, GCloud spend is now at c.£1.7bn, so around 5% of the total spend. Now this may be under-reported by GCloud vendors but it is clearly a tiny proportion of the total and GDS/CCS should have worked harder to address this sooner.
In particular, the lack of a means to compare and record a buying decision and create an audit trail was and is still a real roadblock for procurement teams. In contrast the best procurement eEvaluation systems drive the use of a robust methodology as well as the evaluation software itself. Had GDS and CCS applied a little of this concept they could have set out a user friendly methodology and tool which would have removed this roadblock.
Of course I am glad they are addressing these points now, better late than never. But for me the failure to think through all of the buying process until now is indicative of some of the tension between GDS and CCS which I think has impeded the success of this great concept.