How G-cloud fails SMEs and government procurement pros alike

As purchasing managers gear up their teams for the procurement of Christmas (buying Christmas items),…...

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As purchasing managers gear up their teams for the procurement of Christmas (buying Christmas items), those in the public sector have a conundrum. In trying to encourage more small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers, one of their most important instruments, the cloud computing initiative ‘G-Cloud’, isn’t fit for purpose. This is according to a new report in Computer Business Review (CBR).

Now in its tenth iteration, G-Cloud, devised to improve access for SME suppliers, seems to be struggling. Latest figures show that just 56% of total sales by volume went to SMEs, meaning that 44% went to a small number of giant corporate contractors.

The CBR report finds two key problems. 1 – the platform doesn’t function in a manner that aligns well with the way SMEs generate business. 2 – it doesn’t support the preferred ways that government customers select their suppliers. It is also difficult to navigate, unwieldy, and its search engine is modelled on Google. It fails to match contracts to the most appropriate suppliers.

The article suggests:

  • Improving filters – many common business terms are not listed, so procurement pros can’t find the solution they need. There is no category, for example, for ‘change management.’
  • Include a list of industry definitions – too many terms, e.g., ‘digital transformation’ mean different things to different people. A common definition for the terms used on G-Cloud would solve this.
  • Search results should be ordered – G-Cloud doesn’t appear to prioritise its results, making it almost impossible for procurement staff to shortlist the most appropriate suppliers.
  • Link service categories to real-world developments – SMEs are known to be tech innovators, but it currently takes years for emerging IT trends and terminologies to appear on the platform.

Core procurement duties – cost reduction, sourcing savings, category management, tail spend management, etc., must still be fulfilled. But if SMEs are to get an equal chance in government procurement, the CBR article concludes, “reform is urgently needed.”

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