Why is G-Cloud yet to fully achieve its objective?

The G-Cloud is the government’s appstore, designed to make it easier for the public sector to buy software. It is also a strategy to cut the costs. There is a long way to go as the public sector is generally a juggernaut that has to be turned in small increments.

So take up has been fairly low. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by an IT supplier has revealed that less than 1% of the £440m spent on IT by 26 county councils was invested in services on the G-Cloud public sector app store.

Of the 26 county councils, only Dorset (2), East Sussex (2), Kent (1), Norfolk (1), Nottinghamshire (2), Oxfordshire (1), Staffordshire (1) and Warwickshire (2) bought services on G-Cloud.

In this guest blog Luke Mansell partner at Information Services Group (ISG) explores why G-Cloud is yet to fully achieve the objective.

Making the G-Cloud work

By Luke Mansell

“Since its inception in 2012, the G-Cloud initiative has been widely adopted by the supplier community but has seen a slower than expected uptake from buyers. Set up to simplify the procurement of IT by public sector bodies, it aimed, among other things, to reduce the public sector IT bill by £120m a year..

Of the £175.5m sales awarded to date via the G-Cloud platform the vast majority – around 80% – has been awarded by central government departments and agencies. So what is holding the smaller agencies, and in particular local government, back?

With the G-Cloud designed to bring about IT cost savings of 20-25%, it would appear as though purchasing products and services through the Government’s CloudStore digital marketplace is the obvious choice.

Yet purchasing cloud solutions via the G-Cloud is a new experience for many and local authorities, like any organisation looking to adopt a cloud strategy, require the right support to enable them to do so successfully. This involves everything from determining the readiness of their applications to be migrated to cloud and managing the risks of holding public data on the cloud, as well as creating and managing the business cases and governance that support and deliver genuine savings.

Some local authorities may have been working with the same provider for many years, or be tied into lengthy contracts. The use of legacy systems is still widespread within local government and will inevitably cause some delays in adopting the advantages of purchasing through the G-Cloud. Therefore, it may be some time yet before we reap the anticipated benefits of this initiative – which has only been in existence for just over two years.

The G-Cloud initiative is unquestionably well placed to benefit the public sector by saving money and driving efficiency. A shared set of resources made available through this digital marketplace will streamline the procurement process significantly and benefit all those involved – both buyers and suppliers.

The real challenge, however, lies in promoting a greater awareness of the innovation and cost-effective solutions that the G-Cloud can offer. Pursuing this objective is the final piece in an otherwise well-formed jigsaw, and driving home the benefits of the G-Cloud to local government should be a priority.

The key to ensuring successful integration of G-Cloud into sourcing practices across the country is putting in place the right education and support, with both suppliers and procurement specialists working toward building migration strategies. The initiative, still in its infancy, could have a hugely positive impact across the public sector. Although there is no doubt that it will take time to change habits and get used to new ways of working, this is an achievable goal.”