The divisive Digital Services framework will be a thing of the past from the start of next year as the government unveils its "entirely new" redesigned successor.
The replacement framework will be called Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS), a name the government claims better reflects what is being supplied.
The Digital Services framework has come under fire throughout the course of this year, and back in February, a group of suppliers teamed up to speak out about its failings. They claimed the framework tenders for projects according to an individual's skills, not those of the supplier as a whole, meaning projects are logistically difficult to deliver.
The government responded to the claims throughout the year and admitted there were failings. The "entirely new" DOS framework aims to remedy these concerns.
"[In February] we knew a great deal needed to be done to improve the Digital Services framework, and we have been working towards this ever since," the government said on the Digital Marketplace blog. "The new framework is not merely a third iteration of Digital Services 1 and 2, it's an entirely new approach – a redesign. Renaming it Digital Outcomes and Specialists reflects that.
"User research and feedback from our recent regional events tells us that a significant number of public sector buyers find framework names confusing. We want to move away from using frameworks as brand names. The frameworks should sit behind and inform the Digital Marketplace service rather than being an integral part of it.
"Buyers will simply need to know there's a single place – the Digital Marketplace – that they can go to buy what they need."
But it admitted that the need for a clear name is important from a supplier point of view.
"We realise it's important for suppliers to know which framework they need to apply to based on the services they want to offer to government," the blog said. "The name should therefore relate to what the supplier can sell through the framework. In the case of the Digital Services framework, the name was based on what was being built – 'digital services' – and not what was being supplied, – 'a digital outcome or digital specialist'.
"Suppliers said the Digital Services framework was too focused on 'body shopping'. Supplier feedback said that they wanted more opportunities to supply entire digital outcomes, not just the opportunity to supply individuals to fill the gaps in government teams. The framework is now focused on supplying these digital outcomes and the new name reflects that."
Digital Services 2 will remain in place until its successor takes over "in early 2016".
Harry Metcalfe, managing director of Digital Services framework supplier DXW, was one of the vocal suppliers who spoke up about the problems with the framework back in February.
Speaking to CRN, he said news of the DOS framework is "very positive".
"The name change is good – it is a good statement of intent on what they want this framework to achieve," he said. "All the signals they have given about minimising the process to get on the framework in the first place and moving more of the emphasis on assessing particular suppliers at the stage where you have a project – that's a very good thing."
He said he is "very pleased" that he, along with a small group of other suppliers, spoke out about the challenges suppliers had with the Digital Services framework.
"I think it was something that needed to be said," he said. "I wasn't the only one thinking those things. It has been a team effort."
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