Public Services > Central Government

dxw takes aim at quality of Digital Marketplace opportunities for SMEs

David Bicknell Published 10 January 2018

Survey claims 71% of opportunities reviewed by dxw did not adequately explain what problem was to be solved, and 74% did not clearly describe user needs


A survey by public sector small and medium sized enterprise (SME) dxw claims to have identified a lack of clarity in a majority of Digital Marketplace opportunities.

The survey reviewed opportunities published on the Digital Marketplace over a three week period in October 2017. In its results, respondents said that 71% of them did not adequately explain what problem was to be solved and 74% did not clearly describe user needs. Just 13% of published opportunities were rated as generally good by most survey respondents, while 65% were rated as generally bad.

dxw said it carried out the survey as part of a campaign to improve government procurement which will see its managing director Harry Metcalfe meet the Government Digital Service (GDS) to share the results. Metcalfe hopes that providing objective evidence that highlights common problems with framework opportunities will lead to a more constructive discussion on ways to solve them in the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework (DOS3).

“It seems very likely that the quality of writing in opportunities is putting off SMEs who are more than capable of undertaking these projects,” Metcalfe said. “Many opportunities are unclear and some are essentially incomprehensible - except perhaps to the incumbent supplier. Clearer opportunities will ensure there is a wider, more diverse pool of suppliers, which will provide greater value for money for the public sector and better services for users.

“We carried out the research alongside our client work, which has limited the time we’ve been able to spend on it, so it should not be considered rigorous. However, we hope it provides a general sense of the problem and makes a useful contribution to the ongoing process of improving procurement of digital services.”

The survey’s results also found that 77% of opportunities require six or more essential skills; 71% did not clearly explain the pre-tender market engagement, if present; 68% did not have a clear summary of work; 65% did not adequately explain why the work was being done; 45% shortlisted five or more suppliers; and 32% did not clearly describe the budget. 



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