How to buy Digital Marketplace services fairly

How to avoid bias when buying services.

When you buy services through the Digital Marketplace, you have to be fair, open and transparent. You can only award contracts to suppliers who meet your needs. To find the most appropriate supplier for your project, you need to:

  • write clear requirements
  • set the criteria that you’re going to evaluate suppliers against
  • publish your requirements and criteria so suppliers can decide whether to apply for the work (for digital outcomes, specialists and user research participants services only)
  • search for your requirements on the Digital Marketplace (for G-Cloud services only)
  • only evaluate suppliers on the evidence they provide

There are many types of bias you must avoid when you buy services.

Types of bias

You can’t make a decision on suppliers based on:

  • experience, for example if you or a colleague has worked with a supplier before
  • familiarity, for example if you’ve heard a supplier’s name before
  • recommendation, for example if someone tells you a particular supplier is good or bad
  • solution, for example a desire to buy a specific product
  • availability, for example if you know before you publish your requirements that a particular supplier is free from a certain date
  • recent awareness, for example whether you worked with a supplier recently
  • similarity, for example whether they talk and behave in the same way as you
  • prior knowledge of the price, for example if you know how much a supplier’s service costs before you evaluate

Evaluating suppliers against specific criteria

When you evaluate Digital Outcomes and Specialists suppliers, you must use the scoring scheme. This outlines how you will score suppliers and what they have to do to achieve each score. It leaves no room for unintended bias. Read more about how to evaluate.

At least 3 members of your organisation must score suppliers. You must:

  • give individual scores for each criteria
  • only use the evidence the supplier provides

You can take context into account, for example if they did a good job in an easy situation or a bad job in a hard situation, but you can’t:

  • take an average of the evaluation team’s scores
  • ignore the scoring scheme or apply any bias

Use the scoring template when marking suppliers.

You must keep a record of every stage of the buying process, including scoring suppliers.

Go to the Digital Marketplace.

Published 19 April 2016