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Audit surveys suppliers on language in Digital Marketplace



Effort to assess suppliers' attitudes reflects criticism that buyers often fail to make clear what they need from a procurement

The Digital Marketplace team has declared its backing for an initiative to assess suppliers’ attitudes to the way business opportunities are presented on its procurement website.

It has come in response to concerns that some of the Digital Outcomes and Specialists opportunities published are incomprehensible to all but a few incumbent suppliers, making it more difficult for competitors and for smaller companies to break into the market.

GDS has tweeted its support for the approach taken by web projects specialist dxw in organising a vote on specific aspects of the way the Digital Marketplace describes business openings.

“We can only help to build capability with your help,” the Digital Marketplace team said. “We look forward to seeing the data from dxw’s audit.”

Harry Metcalfe (pictured), founder of dxw, said in a recent blogpost that it has been frustrated by the standard of opportunities published on the Marketplace, and has built the Great British Digital Outcomes Armchair Audit tool to convey what suppliers see as the shortcomings.

It asks respondents to vote on the clarity of several selections of text from opportunities, including relevant sections from the guidance for public sector buyers published by the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Metcalfe said the project is aimed at compiling statistics that could be used in future discussions with the Digital Marketplace team. These could be fed into the talks on the creation of the DOS3 framework (Digital Outcomes and Specialists), scheduled to go into operation next year.

Improving procurement

“Hopefully, by making this information open and making it available to suppliers, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and GDS, we can make a useful contribution to the ongoing process of improving procurement for digital services,” Metcalfe said.

“We hope it will give some clarity about what the common problems with opportunities are, and set the scene for a discussion on ways to solve them.”

He told UKAuthority that he believes the current problem derives partly from buyers failing to follow the guidance, and partly from its own shortcomings.

“A lot of it reads like it was written by digital folk for digital folk,” he said. “It does not quite clearly state what the needs of the users are.”

Metcalfe also suggested there could be a case for a permanent team from CCS and GDS to provide hand support for buyers in writing the opportunity documents.

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