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Marketplace shift re-designs government ICT services procurement

Hundreds involved in re-scoping ICT services definitions for new digital marketplace
Massive SIMS engagement poised to transform government ICT procurement.

Massive SIMS engagement poised to transform government ICT procurement.

A massive market engagement which could change the face of ICT services procurement in New Zealand is nearing its conclusion.

The Department of Internal Affairs has for months been engaging with services providers and agency service users to specify new categories of systems integration and managed services to be available through the department's new procurement marketplace.

Chris Webb, GM commercial strategy and delivery told Reseller News 135 individuals  (83 suppliers and 52 agencies) and 43 organisations (21 suppliers and 22 agencies) had been involved in the effort to bring the services into the new platform.

Webb said DIA had been moving as quickly as it could and now expected the new services, including changes to the marketplace, to be up and running within three months.

Webb described the effort as an iterative co-design process the most visible part of which was a series of document drops on the Government Electronic Tenders Website (GETS).

Consultations were conducted face to face, in writing and through co-design "hackathons".

"We wanted as many voices and lenses as possible," Webb said. "We are mindful that we are not prescribing solutions and more, not picking winners."

The drop documents contained DIA's initial understanding of the service definitions and invited the industry and agencies to deliver their feedback.

While some still wanted agencies to specify exactly what was required, Webb said DIA wanted to stop creating tight specifications for what it "thought looked good". 

"We are avoiding that," he said. "It has consequences and limits thinking and innovation."

The new service descriptions also had to address the biggest generational change in ICT - the adoption of cloud services.

Webb said a lot of smaller local service providers play in that cloud and multi-cloud area and were included in the discussions.

One of the attributes or design principles was that on-boarding had to be open.

"It has made it easier for smaller companies to engage with government," he said.

Part of the engagement covered commercial terms for provider on-boarding into that marketplace, which will involve an initial procurement to qualify, meaning providers will no longer need to wait for a formal GETS announcement to engage.

After that agencies could focus on their needs and the problem to be solved rather than running a series of tender processes.

"It is like a general marketplace but complying with the government's rules of sourcing," Webb said.

In effect, the SIMS market engagement, is taking government ICT procurement away from the legacy Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) model which defined a detailed set of practices for IT services management.

"We've had an IT managed services (ITMS) environment in place for a while and were ready for a fresh look," Webb said.

"We also recognised there are a lot more services in those categories now and we needed to respond to new use cases."

In effect, the ITMS model needed to be "matured" but still be there for those who needed it.

Cloud is also not just direct consumption, but also includes other models such as platform-as-a-service (PaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud orchestration services.

Another area included in the services to be offered is the tool-sets.needed to manage and support cloud environments, he added.

"Those are what we are deploying into the digital procurement platform, or marketplace," he said.

Software is already in the marketplace but the SIMS process will start to expose and open up the services channel too.

Webb said the current marketplace was a minimum viable product but user testing was under way for a  "reskinned" platform with new features and functions to support the services category. 

Government ICT procurement is bi-modal right now but the end goal is that all current supplier panels will eventually be on the marketplace.

Webb said half a billion dollars of business currently goes through the all of government panels, with over 160 suppliers involved, 76 per cent of which were local firms.

"We want to continue to grow that and support local providers and make it easier for them to engage," he said.