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May 03, 2022

What type of supplier do you need?

Do you need someone to support, accelerate or enhance what you're doing?

In January I was interviewed about Create/Change’s ranking as one of the UK’s 50 fastest growing GovTech suppliers by Tussell and TechUK.

In the interview, I put this down to being clear about what we’re good (and not so good) at and understanding where we can bring real value to government. 

If you’re a supplier of consulting or managed services, working with government is very different to working with the private sector. This is for a number of reasons but I maintain that it’s primarily because you’re:

a) working on very hard problems
b) where the outcomes are often societally important, and
c) being paid with taxpayers money

It’s a different level of responsibility, so suppliers working with government should be very clear about what they’re really good at delivering, as opposed to just being clear about what they’d really like to sell.

But client/supplier relationships are a two-way street and it’s just as important that government is a good customer and able to select the right suppliers to ensure that the right outcomes emerge. 

In my experience, government buyers usually need one of 3 things from consultancies and service providers. So when selecting a supplier, here’s my (humble) suggestion about what to look for.

What’s your need?

1 Support 

You need more capability to support a mature programme that’s already delivering and you’ve got experienced, permanent staff in delivery roles.

Look for:

  • Good value for money
  • Flexible & easy to work with
  • Excellent account management
  • Ability to scale up, down or pause

2 Accelerate

You need to accelerate delivery of a specific outcome or you have a programme where you don’t yet have the conditions for success.

Look for:

  • Understanding of how government works and ability to navigate the 3 circles of success
  • Ability to engage credibly with senior stakeholders and help win hearts & minds
  • Ability to deliver outcomes while working with a lot of autonomy
  • Commitment to coaching and up-skilling permanent staff

This is what I think Create/Change is really good and where a lot of our value sits, so we optimise for this kind of work.

3 Enhance

You need to enhance delivery with a specific capability or technology that government doesn’t have (or doesn’t have yet).

Look for:

  • genuine research & innovation
  • committed to embedding this capability in government (i.e. they don’t see this engagement as a distraction from their core product development work)
  • experience of working with government (or partnerships with a supplier who has a lot of experience of how government works)
If you’re trying to decide what kind of supplier you need, talk to us – we’d be happy to give you an honest opinion.