G-Cloud is ‘relatively straightforward’, says HS2 CIO

By Sooraj Shah
03 Sep 2014 View Comments
A cloud in the shape of a G

The CIO of, potentially, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the UK, HS2, has claimed that using the G-Cloud is a "relatively straight forward" process - rejecting claims from some in the public sector that it was difficult to use. 

James Findlay, who is also "technology leader" at the Department for Transport, is heading the IT team of the HS2 proposal, and claimed that he was the first person to use G-Cloud.

"I was the first user of the G-Cloud ever, and I've never had any challenges with it and neither have the organisations I've worked in," he told Computing.

Others within the industry, such as Camden Council CIO John Jackson, had previously hit out at G-Cloud for being too complicated. They had said that there were a number of challenges for the programme to overcome before it could be labelled a success.

Jackson's comments followed a report published in December 2013, which found that almost 90 per cent of local authorities hadn't made a single procurement using the G-Cloud, and that more than three-quarters did not know what they'd use it for.

His views were echoed by Sophie Rawlings, head of information management and ECM programme lead at the Department of Health (DoH), who said there was a long way to go before the G-Cloud becomes an easy-to-use vehicle for procurement.

But Findlay disagreed. He told Computing that there had been some significant enhancements in the past six months or so by the Government Digital Service (GDS), particularly around the user interface and search engine.

"It is an iterative process which is getting much better. Most importantly [the government] has opened up business that was previously never really available to small and medium-sized enterprises," he said.

Camden Council's Jackson had also suggested that G-Cloud's terms and conditions can raise some issues, but Findlay believes that this is also a relatively straightforward process.

However, he now thinks that the biggest challenge is that businesses are "spoilt for choice" in terms of the number of products and services on G-Cloud.

"That's why GDS has been doing some excellent work on some of the filtering, so you can really narrow it down to get to the services you're really looking for," he said.

"It has come a significantly long way from where it first started and from a buyer perspective it has been pretty straight forward for the procurement team within HS2," he added.

HS2 used the CloudStore to procure services from INOVEM's Kahootz cloud collaboration platform. The deal will support 300 Kahootz users across different HS2 divisions, helping them to build online workspaces as part of early stage consultations and collaborations with stakeholders and suppliers.

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