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Don't resent the effort, embrace the opportunity

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Twice a year I breathe a huge sigh of relief, punctuating those two rather stressful periods in my professional tendering life when I am responsible for completing our latest application for the Government’s G-Cloud framework. I should be used to it by now, given that Redcentric has made it into every iteration of G-Cloud, most recently G-Cloud 7. But I suspect I try to forget just how all-consuming it can be: it takes a lot of time and effort, not just in the days running up to pressing the ‘Submit’ button, but in the weeks and months beforehand: analysing feedback, noting specific user requests, reviewing definitions, tweaking pricing, identifying new service opportunities, closing the gap between customer needs and wants and supplier offerings, so much homework, research and applied thought before we even start the formal application process.

Curiously, my experience is not universal within my peer group. Despite the immense commercial opportunities offered by G-Cloud, the biannual selection exercise is often resented as a box-ticking burden, just another example of the public sector bureaucracy that G-Cloud was meant to sweep away from the procurement landscape. It is seen, in short, as a task to be endured and got through. I, on the other hand, have only ever seen it as something to capitalise on, an iterative process that disciplines you to examine what you’ve done and see how you can best take things forward. So my team is constantly asking, how can we do things better? What do people want that we’re not giving them yet? How do we need to improve a particular service to be a better fit for the end user’s requirements? Do we need to refine our definitions and revise the service composition? And we’re being met half way by our clients and by government too. The latter has invested heavily in enhancing the overall buying interface and procurement teams are becoming clearer in defining their needs and understanding what they’re buying. There’s lots of goodwill on both sides and as a supplier organisation that has already delivered over £10m of services under G-Cloud, we’re not going to change our very forensic, diligent approach.

So, for G-Cloud 7 we have introduced a number of brand new solutions, including Managed Database as a Service. In our discussions with clients and prospects and our further research into the marketplace, we identified a clear desire for practical help around MS SQL and Oracle, a viable alternative to the large system integrators who have traditionally dominated that space. It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point, where we can confidently offer it up via G-Cloud, but it’s an opportunity we can pursue now because of the dynamic nature of the application process. Besides, reviewing everything every six months seems to accord with the fast-moving nature of today’s technology: we don’t have to wait for a year or two years to innovate, we can do it now.

So when I’m breathing that big sigh, it’s not the relief that goes with a resented task being done and dusted, it’s the relief that comes with knowing we’ve made the best possible case for our framework inclusion – and that we will reap the fruits of that sustained effort. There’s a saying about life that you only get out of it what you put in. Works for G-Cloud too.

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