Will Huge Economies Of Scale Open To The Crown Be Impossible To Achieve Due To Lack Of In-House Expertise?
To government bodies the advent of Cloud offers the chance to achieve huge economies of scale, computing procurement from a long, expensive process in which each project must be individually forged reduced to a far swifter choice between easily customisable off-the-shelf solutions.
Conversely however, it also creates a new kind of challenge – one in which civil servants must come to terms with a method of acquiring the solutions that flies in the face of best practice as they knew it and adopt a completely different mindset to the one they were previously employed to pursue.
One of the key challenges around the adoption of Cloud services is that public sector computing has historically been outsourced by departments and placed in the hands of large corporate providers. As a result, there has been a steady reduction in the available skills and in-house expertise not only around ICT, but also surrounding the process of purchasing on-tap services, leaving traditional procurement teams struggling to come to terms with the new way of doing business.
This lack of available specific expertise is being highlighted at a moment in time when government departments are increasingly discovering that they don’t need technical capabilities in-house. With the nitty-gritty of maintained platforms increasingly handled by expert providers, instead they face the need to improve the capacity of personnel to understand how Cloud technologies can be applied to and assist in the delivery of business aims.
It’s a challenge that stakeholders are already working hard to meet, but across the public sector there is pressure to build teams with both deeper understanding of what the new generation of technologies can offer and also how to adopt and implement them in a productive manner.
We expect to see increased focus on this area over the coming months as the public sector comes to terms with procuring IT in a different way. Whereas previously, departments would prepare lengthy project specifications and tender documents, then wait for the solutions to come to them. Today’s civil procurer can buy pre-approved solutions off the shelf without the need for a lengthy public bidding process, and adjusting to this shifting scenario will be a key requirement of 2013.
So will bridging the knowledge gap prevent public sector organisations from making the savings that G-Cloud offers? As matters stand the framework is re-advertised every six months – meaning that new solutions and providers become available on a regular basis – and there is some evidence that this is creating confusion for traditional procurers.
However, while the need to adopt new approaches to procurement may have slowed the uptake of Cloud based solutions in the short term, SCC’s experience working with public sector clients has shown us that the stakeholders driving civic computers recognise the issue and are readily deploying the resources required to bridge the knowledge gap and catch up fast.
Every significant change creates uncertainty together with a requirement to learn new skills, and G-Cloud is no different. If the IT industry continues to work with public sector clients, providing guidance and expertise on each new issue as it arises, the potentially huge savings offered by Cloud will become an increasingly more frequent reality.
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