Digital and technology skills

Commercial and procurement

Securing services and products that are fit for purpose and give best value for money.

Commercial awareness is about:

  • procuring or commissioning and managing services from third parties
  • securing the best value for money
  • selecting fast routes to market
  • understanding relevant procurement frameworks to be able to give guidance to buyers

Some relevant roles: supplier and contract managers, buyers, commissioners, technical architects, service managers, senior leadership roles

Technical understanding

This involves:

  • having a broad understanding of the technical aspects of the product or service
  • being able to express the user needs in terms of outcomes and product/service vision

Using procurement frameworks

This involves:

  • accessing services from a range of relevant frameworks (eg using the Digital Marketplace) to enable multi-vendor contracting and support ‘framework first’ principles
  • awareness of the expanding range of digital and technology procurement frameworks
  • acting as an IT service broker to match your organisation with the services it needs

Best routes to market

Awareness of commercial and procurement policy

Understanding all policy relevant to procurement and commercial management in order to take the fastest, most appropriate routes to market.

This involves:

  • familiarity with relevant frameworks
  • following the terms and process of each framework

Purchasing to meet user needs

This involves:

  • advising on the best and fastest way to purchase or commission
  • understanding if it’s viable and meets the user and business needs

Regulatory compliance

Procurement regulations

This involves:

  • knowing obligations under EU procurement regulations and internal government rules
  • ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations

Meeting standards for digital and technology procurement

Understanding and applying relevant government standards and policies in the course of digital and technology procurement or commissioning (eg the Open Contracting Data Standard and Cyber Essentials Scheme).

Open data and open standards

This involves:

  • providing advice and guidance to support ‘make or buy’ decision making
  • engaging with suppliers and product owners to ensure that procured technology and digital services follow government recommendations (eg using open standards and open data whenever possible and moving away from proprietary products and systems)

Agile and procurement

This involves:

  • recognising how procurement can support rapid, iterative development so that it does not become a blocker
  • working closely with delivery teams from the outset of a project, ensuring that the right approaches are chosen

End-to-end contract management

This involves:

  • understanding all contractual stages of digital services, from ‘design and build’ through to ‘support and maintain’
  • managing the end-to-end lifecycle of contracts, including:
    • requests for information (RFI) and requests for proposals (RFP)
    • selection, mini-competition and tendering processes
    • maintaining the contract once it’s in force


Following governance procedures

This involves:

  • understanding how governance can support rather than get in the way of service delivery
  • following appropriate governance procedures

Following spend approval processes

Understanding and following departmental and government-wide investment and spend approval processes

Learning resources:

The Service Design Manual includes:

The Civil Service blog has an entry looking at ‘How do you rate your commercial skills’. It also has a collection of links to relevant Civil Service learning opportunities in ‘Courses to improve your commercial skills’.

The Digital Marketplace blog gives updates on the online store for finding and comparing cloud-based services for your public sector organisation.