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Using G-Cloud in your search for your next ticketing or CRM system

Often the first step into procuring a new ticketing or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can be the most daunting. Even if you’re ready to start researching products, you might not want a sales conversation right away. Your time is precious, and maybe you need to establish the lay of the land before speaking to suppliers/providers. Once they know you’re looking for a new product, it can result in an avalanche of calls and emails from well-meaning sales people.

In this article, you’ll learn how G-cloud can be used to give a head-start in finding your next ticketing or CRM system.

During the initial research phase it’s easy to find out about the different features and services each product offers. Companies proudly advertise these on their websites, essentially it’s their window-dressing and unique selling points. All too often, however, they become less forthcoming when it comes to pricing structures. In many cases this is because they don’t offer a flat rate, or pricing is bespoke to each organisation. It is, of course, in their interest to get you on the phone to start a conversation. But do you really want to go into that initial call without even a ballpark figure for your eventual quote?

No one wants to feel like they are wasting time on a call only to discover a product is way outside their price range. Therefore, even a rough figure for what you might spend on a new system is fundamental to helping you decide if you want to approach a company.

And this is where G-cloud comes in…

What is G-Cloud?

G-Cloud is a framework that forms an agreement between the government and a variety of cloud-based suppliers. It can facilitate and speed up the procurement of digital technology.

In order to be part of the framework, all G-Cloud suppliers have confirmed information about their company and the way they work. They have also supplied details about the services that they offer. This includes cost, security protocols, and details of where they store data.

This means that if a supplier is in the framework, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has done some significant legwork on behalf of public sector organisations.  This usually means the procurement process is much quicker, and you can focus on making sure the product is suitable and cost-effective for your organisation.

How could G-Cloud fit into my procurement process?

G-Cloud can give a real boost when you are starting to search for a new system. It can give you an early indication of pricing and aid in your pre-sale research. You can use it to quickly and efficiently arm yourself with the information you need to confidently enter the more formal sales process.

The marketplace can give you a head start in learning about how suppliers talk about their product and their services. This often means you can go into your first call with some valuable questions you already need answering.

It can also give you some key phrases and terminology related to the type of product you are looking to purchase. With this information and Google, you can hunt out other similar products on the wider market – you can be sure that if one company uses particular terminology, so will their competitors.

These are all good ways that organisations, both public and private, can use a tool like G-Cloud to get a real head-start on procurement.

Should I be worried if a company I want to work with is not on G-Cloud?

In a word, no!

G-Cloud aims to connect the public sector with a very specific group of products, namely cloud-based systems. It particularly favours products that use a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

Software as a Service is essentially a way of delivering an application over the internet. Typically, a SaaS product isn’t installed directly onto your system, but is cloud-based and accessed via an internet browser. This method means you do not need to buy or maintain any specialist hardware to operate the product or store your data.

Not all companies adopt this model, however, for a variety of reasons. Others might choose not to use G-Cloud as they are focused on serving the private sector.  Therefore, you may well find that the right solution for you is not included in G-Cloud. In this case you should approach them through a standard procurement process.

Using G-Cloud as a non-public sector organisation

Whilst the CCS designed G-Cloud framework for use by the public sector, it can still be useful to organisations in the private sector. The Digital Marketplace is a publicly available catalogue of all the suppliers within G-Cloud.

Even if you’re not able to procure a service directly through G-Cloud, you can certainly browse this information as part of your research. The information provided can give you a good product and services overview, often with more detail than you might find on the supplier’s own website. And, perhaps more importantly, they will also give an indication of what their services might cost.

You can effectively use the marketplace as the first step in your comparison of  Cloud-based and SaaS suppliers, before expanding your search to include the rest of the market.

Using G-Cloud as a public sector organisation

If you work in the public sector, you are exactly the sort of person that G-Cloud was designed to help.

Finding the software you need through G-Cloud, you can research your options and procure services directly through the framework. Both are likely to save you time and money.

You are not obliged to use G-Cloud. Indeed, many potential suppliers are not eligible to be part of the framework. But even in this scenario, it can be part of your initial research before going through a traditional procurement process.

Beyond G-Cloud

G-Cloud can give a real boost when you are starting to search for a new system. But it certainly shouldn’t be your last step. The marketplace can help you with headline information about certain suppliers and the direction of your search, but it can’t tell you if a supplier is right for you. And remember, it only includes information about viable suppliers who have applied to be part of the framework.

Once you’ve narrowed down your search using the marketplace, you will still need to do further research and due diligence. But now you’ll have a better understanding of which cloud-based products might be cost-effective and suitable for your organisation.

And whilst it can’t replace all your research, or conversations with suppliers, it will prepare you for that process. This allows you to kick off your sales conversations with more confidence. And, possibly most importantly of all, save you a lot of time in the process.

Next steps:

If you are interested in accessing G-Cloud, you might want to read the G-Cloud Buyers Guide before browsing the G-Cloud Digital Marketplace.

If you are just starting your procurement process, you might want to check out our article on Discovering the right ticketing & CRM tech for you. It even features a handy Functionality Checker to help you define what you are looking for in your new system.

And, of course, if you are eligible for Arts Council England funding and  want to discuss how to approach your procurement process with an independent specialist, do get in touch. We’d be more than happy to chat through your options with you!

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up for our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

Original article written by Phil Lofthouse, March 2022.

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