5 reasons why many in the public sector still don't use G-Cloud

The G-Cloud framework, along with the many other framework agreements, was developed to level the playing field for procurement, especially for smaller players who were often forced out by the large incumbents. The removal of “cosy” relationships between suppliers and purchasers would allow public/private sector business to be conducted on purely objective terms, delivering better value and a better quality of service to the taxpayer.

But the G-Cloud framework, among many others, continues to see much lower adoption than it should, with many major procurements still bypassing the framework agreements altogether. But why is this?

1. “No one likes change” – Change is uncomfortable, risky and unpredictable. But change is also necessary and inevitable. While most people naturally resist change, they will accept it if they understand why it is necessary. The government needs to make a better case that the changes introduced by the frameworks are worth it.

2. “It wasn’t built here” – Ultimately, many in the public sector still like to work with their own systems and people. In some sectors there is still a general mistrust of private companies, or the ideological feeling that profit should never touch the public sector.

3. “We have strategic suppliers already” – The framework agreements are seen as artificial barriers to doing business, because that is exactly what they were designed to be. But this ignores how people actually do business. Ultimately, people want to do business with people, not frameworks. Trust is an important factor in choosing a supplier which cannot be determined in a framework alone.

4. “Each framework is costly to review” – Given the complexity of each framework agreement, no public sector organisation would risk signing up to one without their lawyers reading it first. G-Cloud’s Framework agreement spans 62 pages for example. Why would you invest in legal advice for each and every framework when you can simply pay the same lawyer just once to write your own terms?

5. “How do we know if its genuinely the right approach?” – Building on the last point, each framework must be individually assessed to determine if it offers good value. This is a time-consuming process which many organisations simply don’t want to do, so they leave the frameworks on the shelf.

Do any of these seem familiar to you?

We believe these issues are not insurmountable, and the goals of the frameworks remain something to strive for. However, the frameworks need to be better at efficiently and objectively matching government buyers with appropriate suppliers. We believe this can be better achieved by reducing the overall number of frameworks to simplify the market for buyers, overhauling the online marketplaces (with a particular focus on their matchmaking capabilities) and introducing a sustained communications campaign to educate the public sector on how to get the best out of them. By doing this I believe the frameworks can have a much more positive future.

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