Helping the public sector to buy digital services with confidence

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is the largest public sector procurement organisation in the UK, with thousands of customers in a range of sectors.

The organisation holds a privileged position. It is fortunate to have so many customers who are willing to offer feedback about its work so that CCS can learn and improve day by day, year by year.

Digital services are a key part of the Crown Commercial Service offer and the organisation continues to strive to make sure its agreements are the best they can be, so that its customers feel empowered through them and are able to buy with confidence.

But CCS can only ensure this by listening to them – by seeing procurement from their perspective and learning from their lived experiences. The organisation sees real importance in enhancing capability for those buying digital services. It wants customers who buy digital, data and technology services from across the public and third sector to enhance their commercial and technical awareness – that’s how they’ll get better value from the work CCS does.

It’s a lesson the organisation started learning following CCS’s launch of Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) in 2016. DOS is the route to market for application development services to support the digital transformation agenda.

But it became clear buyers were posting non-compliant or poorly worded requirements, being challenged by suppliers and experiencing delays as a result. CCS encouraged its colleagues to talk with users, and where extra support and guidance was needed it was designed around their needs and provided.

This work continues today through the CCS Buying Digital Community. This is a network of digital buyers, which meets several times a year, allowing the team at CCS to listen to customers’ experiences and perspectives and offer advice on how to get the best from agreements such as DOS.

These gatherings allow buyers to learn and become more knowledgeable in a safe environment alongside their peers. CCS shares best practice together and learns from each others’ challenges and solutions. The Buying Digital Community is always honest and so important to the work undertaken at CCS; it really does help the team to support buyers’ journeys and the organisation says it is a privilege to be part of it.

Past topics of discussion include assessment methods, guidance for successful pre-tender engagement, how to choose a route to market and wellbeing.

To join the community and find out about upcoming events, sign up to the Knowledge Hub group by following these instructions, or if you have any specific questions for CCS about buying digital services in the meantime, visit our website and get in touch.