It is strange that although a primary aim of the G-Cloud programme is to save money for the tax payer, when anyone mentions G-Cloud success, or failure, they look first at the sales figures and then list the vendors who have made the most money. Is it me, or are they missing the point?
Don’t get me wrong, as a private sector businessman with an equity share in my company I’m all for making profit and I’d be happy for our company to top that sales list. Perhaps if we were to charge more for our cloud collaboration service we might! I suppose, when it comes down to it, sales are much easier to quantify and report on than savings. So, to put the record straight, it might help to clarify the areas where our G-Cloud clients have made savings:
Savings on procurement costs:
Quite often public sector organisations have a need to securely share and discuss information with staff members across their business or stakeholders in other organisations. A good example is supporting the development of shared services across one or more local authorities or government departments. Due to the organic nature of these public sector money-saving initiatives it does not make sense to pay for supporting ICT services until they are needed, making pay-as-you-go cloud computing an ideal solution.
So, let’s say you only need 50 user licenses to start with, but have aspirations to grow. Are you really going to be able to justify the internal cost of a full tender process? Would your short-listed vendors be happy to travel to several on-site benchmarking meetings and answer 20 pages of questions about their COTS products for such a relatively small order? Unlikely! This is where the G-Cloud process wins for everyone concerned. According to two of our new clients who tried this route it is fast, efficient and relatively stress-free.
“When you consider we were able to identify, evaluate, select and deploy a new online collaboration service in less than two weeks, the efficiency of the G-Cloud procurement route speaks for itself. This achievement would not have been possible using more traditional ICT procurement routes.” - Mike Germon, Deputy Pensions Manager, Devon County Council
“Discussing our buyer experiences with work colleagues, the G-Cloud certainly makes ICT procurement simpler, faster and cheaper. The flexibility of the call-off framework also makes it very easy for us to expand licenses as the need to support new shared services arises.” - James Mackenzie, Projects Officer, Havant Borough Council
Savings on ICT costs:
The easiest time to quantify savings on hardware and software is when public sector organisations replace an existing product or support infrastructure, allowing a direct cost comparison to be made. Although we are starting to see signs of such swap-outs we need to remember many government departments are still under the grips of pre-existing long-term legacy contracts which will delay any large scale swap-outs. In all of our G-Cloud sales to date, Kahootz has been purchased to support a collaboration project that could not be facilitated by an existing in-house ICT solution.
So, at this time, all we can do is to show relative cost savings by comparing Kahootz licencing with other competing vendors on the CloudStore, for example those that offer IL2 accredited collaboration services, such as Microsoft Office 365/Sharepoint and Huddle.
I think it’s true to say that most organisations we sell to already have Sharepoint and are looking for something they can use to work with external stakeholders and is easier to implement, customise and support. Helpfully, Huddle recently reported in the press that they believe they provide a 20% saving over Sharepoint and have provided a product comparison. Most informed buyers appreciate that Huddle only offers a fraction of what’s available in Sharepoint, but that can sometimes seem attractive.
Given the strength of Huddle’s marketing, without exception, all of our G-Cloud IL2 prospects have also considered Huddle, so perhaps this is the best savings comparison for us to make. Huddle Professional is listed on the CloudStore at a flat rate of £15/user/month which, given the strict terms of the G-Cloud Framework Agreement, is their only valid price point. Based on that monthly fee, I estimate Kahootz is already saving our growing number of G-Cloud clients a collective total of £461,975/year, delivering an 81% saving over Huddle! I am, however, glad to report that during MEAT (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) evaluations, although cost was a key issue it was not the only plus point for our service. Kahootz was perceived by users as extremely easy to use and they liked the additional built-in collaboration features such as: questionnaires, blogs, custom databases, quick polls and powerful reporting tools. You could say, they quickly deduced “Kahootz provides More for Less!”
Savings on implementation costs:
As a self-service cloud collaboration service, Kahootz can be used out-of-the-box without training or the expensive on-boarding charges that are normally associated with on-premise ICT implementations. G-Cloud clients, therefore, can be up-and-running with zero additional cost knowing that they only need to budget for our pay-as-you-go licensing fees which are clearly listed within Kahootz. Some of our G-Cloud clients have chosen additional optional services, such as site branding and on-site consultancy workshops, to ensure that they can fully exploit what Kahootz has to offer.
When in Kahootz, users quickly learn that it is extremely easy to configure the content and layout of each individual online workspace to provide a sense of context and purpose, for other team and community members, without the need for additional consultancy. This approach not only eliminates future unknown costs, it also empowers staff to innovate new ways of working, making them more involved and productive.
Savings on wasted opportunity costs:
Over the last 10 years we have witnessed many potential public sector users fail to procure a quick tactical solution because of the disproportionate duration and cost of public sector procurement processes. Unsatisfied and discontented project team members were then left to struggle with emailing file attachments, posting data sticks or resorting to un-accredited free file-sharing sites. They also had no way to work together productively unless they met in person. This was less than ideal!
With the availability via the CloudStore of pan-government accredited cloud commodity services, such as Kahootz, employees of public sector organisations are now empowered to purchase and implement cloud services ‘bottom-up’, paying for only for the services they need, as and when they need them. This innovative procurement approach not only provides better value for money, it also avoids the frustrating delays and barriers of more traditional ‘top-down’ “.. it’s coming soon …” implementations.
So, in conclusion, with the combined cost savings on procurement, licensing, implementation services, improved efficiencies and increased competition, we think that the G-Cloud team is more than delivering on their stated primary objective of saving money for the tax payer.