G-Cloud buyers' guide
- Government Digital Service
- Part of:
- Digital Marketplace buyers and suppliers information and Central government efficiency
- 24 September 2013
- Last updated:
- 22 May 2017, see all updates
How to buy cloud services on the Digital Marketplace.
Digital Marketplace overview
The Digital Marketplace helps you find cloud technology and specialist services for digital projects. You can buy through 3 frameworks (agreements between government and suppliers).
You can buy:
- cloud services (for example content delivery networks or accounting software) through the G-Cloud framework
- digital outcomes, specialists and user research services through the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework
- physical datacentre space through the Crown Hosting Data Centres framework
Buying services through these frameworks is faster and cheaper than entering into individual procurement contracts.
All public sector organisations, including agencies and arm’s length bodies, can use the Digital Marketplace. Check the list of approved organisations to see if you’re eligible.
What you can buy on G-Cloud
You can use the Digital Marketplace to find and compare cloud hosting, software and support (for example content delivery networks or accounting software).
There are around 20,000 cloud services on the Digital Marketplace. These services are split into 3 categories or ‘lots’:
- cloud hosting, for example content delivery networks or load balancing services
- cloud software, for example accounting tools or customer service management software
- cloud support, for example migration services or ongoing support
Who the suppliers are
All G-Cloud suppliers have:
- confirmed information about their company and the way they work
- added information about the services that they offer
Read about how suppliers have been evaluated.
View the list of G-Cloud suppliers.
How to buy
When you use the Digital Marketplace, you must buy fairly.
To buy cloud services you must:
- Prepare your requirements – a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘wants’ – and get approval to buy what you need.
- Search for services on the Digital Marketplace using keywords.
- Review services and use the filters to create your shortlist.
- Compare services to find the cheapest or best value for money.
- Choose your service, award and sign the contract (or ‘call-off’).
- Publish the contract on Contracts Finder.
- Complete the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) benefits form.
If you award a contract through G-Cloud, make sure you keep a record of all the buying process stages. You must be able to show a clear audit trail, including searches you’ve carried out, filters you’ve used and how you’ve compared services.
1. Prepare your requirements and get approval
Working with both procurement and technical professionals can help you decide on the high-level requirements and how long your project will take. You can also talk to suppliers before you start to help you refine your requirements.
You should consider the:
- funds you have available to buy the service
- technical and procurement requirements of the project
- criteria on which your choice will be based
Identify what the ‘must-have’ requirements are and what the ‘wants’ are to help you define the search terms to use. A very broad search (for example ‘hosting’) will return a list of several services. Use this first stage to understand the technologies that are:
- a good fit for your project
Read the government service manual guidance on choosing technology.
If you’re buying for central government, you have to go through the digital and IT spend controls process first.
2. Search for services
Next, use the Digital Marketplace to search for services that meet your needs. You can add keywords to create a list of services that meet your ‘must-have’ requirements (for example content management system and open standards) and those that could also support your ‘would-like’ needs (for example Firefox support, content rating and link management).
To see all the services that meet your requirements, try using different search terms to make sure you get the most complete set of results possible (for example ‘document management system’ and ‘content management system’).
- blog post on search tips for more guidance on finding the service you need
- guidance on choosing technology
3. Review services to create your shortlist
Create a shortlist by using the filters, and by reading the short descriptions provided by suppliers. You can find more service details in the additional documents.
Each service listing includes a:
- terms and conditions document
- pricing document
They may also include a service definition document.
The price shown on the service listing page is the cost of the most common configuration of the service. Pricing is normally volume-based, so you should always look at the supplier’s pricing document to work out the actual price of what you’re going to buy.
Use the government’s Cloud Security Principles to help you understand how secure suppliers’ services are.
Make sure you consider the information suppliers have provided in context. For example, don’t exclude a supplier based only on the ISO certification they have. You must understand what the certification covers and who awarded it to the supplier.
You should also:
- make sure a service meets your security requirements before you sign a contract
- involve people with risk management and technical security expertise in the buying process
4. Compare services
There are 2 ways to review your shortlist: lowest cost or most economically advantageous tender (MEAT).
Spend some time going through the service descriptions to find the services that best meet your needs based on both requirements and budget. You can contact the suppliers and request more information about what their service offers.
Your assessment of suppliers throughout the process should always be as fair and as transparent as possible. You shouldn’t unfairly exclude any services without referring back to your project requirements.
For a MEAT-based assessment of suppliers, you must use the criteria in the table below, but you can decide what detailed characteristics you use and how you weight them.
|Criteria number||Award criteria|
|1||Whole life cost: cost effectiveness; price and running costs|
|2||Technical merit and functional fit: coverage, network capacity and performance as specified in relevant service levels|
|3||After-sales service management: helpdesk, account management function and assurance of supply of a range of services|
5. Choose your service and award a contract
If only one supplier meets your requirements, you can award the contract to them without doing anything else.
There will usually be a number of services on your shortlist. If all these services meet your requirements and are very similar, you can choose one based on lowest cost alone.
The cheapest option will normally be obvious, but you might need to:
- look at combinations of different suppliers
- get specific information about volumes
The final choice should be based on best fit rather than ruling out suppliers that don’t meet either your current contract or an ideal set of terms.
If you need any clarification to help you make your final decisions, you can ask suppliers directly.
The G-Cloud framework isn’t like most other frameworks because it includes the suppliers’ terms and conditions. Buyers enter into a contract with suppliers to accept their terms and conditions, for example service price.
The buyer and supplier must both sign a copy of the contract before the service can be used. The maximum length of a G-Cloud contract is normally 24 months. You can extend a contract by 1 year and then a further year but the digital and IT spend controls team will have to approve it first.
If there’s any contradiction between the contract terms and conditions and the framework terms and conditions, the framework terms will take precedence. In a contract, the terms and conditions and prices are all agreed when you sign the framework agreement. A copy of the contract must be signed by all interested parties (the buyer and supplier) before the service can be used.
6. Publish the contract to Contracts Finder
You must publish all completed contracts on Contracts Finder.
7. Complete the CCS savings form
CCS works with departments and organisations across the public sector to improve service delivery quality and ensure every commercial relationship provides value for money. That means it has to record savings and monitor the ongoing performance of the G-Cloud frameworks.
Choosing the right G-Cloud legal documents
The latest iteration of the G-Cloud framework is G-Cloud 9. That means you need to use the G-Cloud 9 templates and legal documents.
Latest G-Cloud legal documents
The latest G-Cloud legal documents are the:
Previous G-Cloud legal documents
Some previous G-Cloud legal documents include the:
Extending your G-Cloud contract
Contract awards on G-Cloud normally last for up to 24 months. After this, you’ll need to re-evaluate your needs and the services on offer on the Digital Marketplace. If your requirements haven’t changed, you can repeat your search and check that no other services are available.
If you’re a central government organisation, you can only extend your contract if the:
- spend controls team says you can
- supplier gives you an ‘additional exit plan’ to approve at least 8 months before the contract ends
You can read more about additional exit plans in the G-Cloud 9 contract.
After your contract expires
If your project scope and needs remain exactly the same, you can go back to the Digital Marketplace and use the same searches you used before. That way, you can check that no new services are offered that may be better value for money. You can then enter into a new contract but must keep records to prove that your assessment has been fair.
If you have any questions about the G-Cloud framework or the buying process, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published: 24 September 2013
Updated: 22 May 2017
- Updated to reflect changes to the new G-Cloud 9 framework, for example new 'lot' structure.
- First published.
Related guides: Digital Marketplace suppliers' guide Digital Marketplace buyers' guide G-Cloud templates and legal documents The G-Cloud framework on the Digital Marketplace Terms and conditions of Digital Marketplace frameworks G-Cloud suppliers' guide