Sue Robb of 4Children talks to Julie Laughton and Alison Britton from the Department for Education about the role of childminders in delivering the 30 hours free entitlement.
Ease the pain of procurement
The length and complexity of UK procurement processes make purchasing new software and services a costly affair. In fact, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEPR), procurement in the UK is 90% more expensive than in the EU.
Their research found that the the average cost to a UK public authority of attracting each bid from a potential supplier is £1,260. That makes the UK the fourth most expensive place in Europe for organisations going out to tender. It also means that a competitive procurement process, that involves a variety of suppliers, is more costly for organisations looking for the best possible fit for their project.
This is one of the reasons more and more organisations are looking to reduce costs by buying services through a framework such as the UK government's G-Cloud. Procurement frameworks lower the cost of buying services by speeding up and simplifying the procurement process. Vendors are screened when they apply to be part of the framework – allowing organisations to buy services without needing to run a full tender process. Rather than putting out an invitation to tender and hoping that suitable vendors respond, you can browse all of the suppliers and choose the most suitable package. Here at Zengenti we recognised the benefits this increased choice offered customers and joined G-Cloud in 2012. In that time we’ve seen it grow in popularity with organisations that want to bypass a lengthy tender process and we have just been accepted onto the latest iteration of the framework, G-Cloud 9.
Following the creation of G-Cloud, the UK government announced that it was adopting a "Cloud First" policy for public sector IT projects in order to save money and increase efficiency. By using services that are hosted in the cloud, often known as "Software as a Service", you avoid the costs associated with setting up, securing, and maintaining your own hosting infrastructure.
Service providers can run servers and data centres at a lower cost than individual organisations because of the scale at which they operate. You, the customer, benefit from these cost savings as well as the more flexible payment model. It can help to think of cloud services in terms of renting rather than owning a house. When you rent a house you are free to occupy it, decorate it, and use how you like – without being responsible for the upkeep of the building. Cloud services are similar in that you rent the "service" – often on a monthly basis – without being responsible for the upkeep of the infrastructure that it relies on.
Rather than needing to find the budget to buy and host a new piece of software upfront, you can can spread the cost over the lifetime of your project. This allows you to be more agile – trying new services without needing to go through a lengthy and expensive procurement process.
We're finding more and more organisations are choosing cloud services, whether they’re purchased through a framework or a traditional process. In recent years, we've seen an increasing number of our customers – both public and private sector – opting to use the cloud version of our Contensis content management system. As the public become more tech-savvy and their expectations grow, organisations are understandably keen to spend more time providing a fantastic service and less time worrying about servers. Because we handle the installation, updates, and support for Contensis Cloud, our customers are free to focus on what they do best. Teams can concentrate on providing a better user experience, creating more useful content, and building better self-service platforms rather than fending off DDOS attacks and setting up load balancers.
Other organisations are making further savings by taking a more innovative approach to procurement. This includes getting together with similar organisations to pool resources and expertise. We recently won a contract to supply Contensis and our professional services Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, and Hertfordshire Constabulary as part of a joint project between the three forces.
Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary have used a shared CMS since 2009 and all three forces use the same intranet. The trio have similar aims and objectives, such as improving their customer’s access to police information and meeting increasing demand for self service, so require the same set of tools to achieve their goals. This makes it relatively simple for them to redevelop their websites and intranet using the same systems and technology. By sharing resources the forces are aiming to make significant cost savings and improve efficiency, which will allow them to offer an improved quality of service to the public, stakeholders, and their partner agencies.
It’s never been easier to cut your procurement costs while finding a supplier that’s the right fit for your organisation. Cloud services offer a way for organisations to get the services they need while bypassing the lengthy tender process associated with huge one-off purchases. Whether you use G-Cloud or opt for a traditional tender process, thinking outside the big metal boxes of servers and hosting infrastructure can free your team to do what they do best – provide a fantastic customer service.