If you operate in a public sector or government organisation, we’re sure there will have been numerous occasions in the past when you’ve had to design surveys and collect data, whether that was for internal or external research projects, or both.
We also know that compared with private sector organisations, you typically have to work within a tighter framework of restrictions and compliance, which includes who you purchase services or products from, or partner with externally.
Public sector procurement rules
Above a set financial threshold, if you’re buying supplies, services or works for central government, a non-ministerial department, executive agency, non-departmental public body or wider public sector bodies such as local government, health and education, you need to follow the procedures laid down in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 before awarding a contract to suppliers.
Besides helping to generate greater value for money, savings and transparency during the buying process, these government procurement guidelines were established to help organisation’s run faster procurements, with less red tape, and with increased focus on obtaining the right supplier and the best tender in accordance with sound commercial practices.
Having such rules in place also helps to maintain standards throughout the public sector purchasing process, which is similarly the case when it comes to buying in more specific areas such as cloud services, which is what we are going to discuss next.
G cloud explained
G cloud refers to the government digital marketplace.
The g cloud procurement initiative was established by the UK government to encourage the adoption of cloud services across the public sector and provide a secure platform where these organisations could go to find technology or people for digital projects.
G-cloud is a framework of approved supplier services where organisations can make purchases via the Digital Marketplace (formally CloudStore) without having to go through a lengthy procurement or tender process every time. Organisations also gain the assurance that any supplier on G-Cloud has been properly vetted and meets the necessary standards before they are allowed to join up.
How the G-Cloud Digital Marketplace works
Before starting their search for suppliers on the government g cloud platform, organisations are encouraged to work with those who will be using the service including buying specialists and technical experts to prepare a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘wants’, which includes assessing security requirements. This makes it easier to identify the best search category, keywords and filters to use.
Once you have this you’re ready to use the Digital Marketplace platform:
1. Search for suppliers:
Users are encouraged to select a category and then refine their search using keywords and the filters that are provided. Searches can also be saved, so you can log out and return to them at a later date if required.
2. Export your results:
You can export your search results to keep a record of the services you’ve found as a spreadsheet or comma-separated values (CSV) document, with key data such as:
Supplier names and contact details
Service names, descriptions and prices
Links to detailed service description pages on the Digital Marketplace
3. Assessing services:
While your overall objective is to choose the service that best meets your budget and requirements, if you’re faced with multiple suppliers that meet your needs, there are two ways in which you can evaluate them and come to a final decision:
One, is to select the supplier that meets the needs and has the lowest price.
The second is to explore the M.E.A.T which stands for 'most economically advantageous tender process'. This is where a buyer will evaluate multiple suppliers (usually around 3-5) against a set of predetermined criteria. The Digital Marketplace buyers guide and framework agreement outline our different types of criteria you can use when evaluating shortlisted suppliers under M.E.A.T:
- Whole life cost, cost effectiveness, price and running costs
- Technical merit and functional fit
- After sales and service management
- Non-functional characteristics
It’s also worth noting that your final selection should be based on best fit rather than simply ruling out suppliers that don’t meet your current contract or ideal set of terms.
Once you’ve identified your preferred supplier and awarded them a contract, that winning supplier is notified. It’s also best practice for buyers to notify the unsuccessful suppliers and offer reasons as to why they weren’t successful, so they can improve their bids the next time around.
After the contract has been awarded the buyer and the supplier need to complete what is called a ‘call-off contract’. This will include any specific terms the parties have agreed. Once the call-off-contract is completed and signed, the work can begin.
SmartSurvey and G-Cloud
Having quickly established a foothold and then progressed to becoming a popular online survey platform for public sector and government organisations, SmartSurvey soon became an approved supplier on the 'G-Cloud Digital Marketplace' too.
In fact, we’ve gone on to become the leading data collection provider for the public sector, where we currently work with 65% of central government departments and nearly a third of all UK councils. This is also backed up by the latest G-Cloud market report, which lists us in that top position by both spend and quantity of contracts.
Other reasons why we’ve become increasingly popular in this sector include:
We’re are ISO27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus accredited and GDPR compliant, meaning we can offer clients the highest levels of data security assurances.
We can provide a ringfenced solution that ensures your data is not transferred outside of the UK.
Our software is powerful, yet really simple to use and able to meet any survey or data collection requirement.
We offer a dedicated and truly customer centric approach to sales, service and support
We work with a diverse number of government and public sector organisations, ranging from government departments and local country councils, to leading public sector organisations across a wide range of disciplines. Some highlights include our work helping the Department for Education to improve the quality and security of their data collection and assisting the General Medical Council with driving up their stakeholder engagement, to transforming the survey and data collection process for Dundee City Council and Norfolk County Council. You can find out more about our work in this sector, as well as a fuller list of our government and public sector clients, by visiting our 'gov.uk surveys' page.
Given the sheer range of disciplines that fall under the remit of government and public sector organisations, the number of different survey types they need to carry out can be diverse ranging from anything such as social services surveys, public consultation surveys, visitor feedback surveys and budget consultations, to community survey, neighbourhood and crime prevention surveys. Fortunately, the agility of our survey platform enables it to be used in a wide variety of ways and for different purposes, while providing significant benefits. For a more detailed picture of how our survey platform can be used across public sector and government services, why not take a look at our Government surveys page.