The National Archives

The National Archives website, Discovery and Alpha that reimagines our whole offer.

Incomplete applications

22
Incomplete applications
21 SME, 1 large

Completed applications

39
Completed applications
31 SME, 8 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Friday 2 August 2019
Deadline for asking questions Friday 9 August 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Friday 16 August 2019 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Overview
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work We need an expert partner to explore, shape, co-create, build and test, in public, a prototype for a new www.nationalarchives.gov.uk website, shaped by user needs. We need a fresh eye and fresh thinking, to select and take advantage of technical possibilities, as we co-create a service that meets user’s needs.
Latest start date Tuesday 1 October 2019
Expected contract length 6 months
Location London
Organisation the work is for The National Archives
Budget range £500,000

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done What would we create if we started completely anew with The National Archives website, to realise the vision in our new strategy, Archives for Everyone? Inspired by alpha.gov.uk, we are aiming to build and test, in public, a prototype for a new www.nationalarchives.gov.uk website, shaped by user needs, following service standard principles and using modern technologies.
This is not intended to be an instant replacement for our existing website. In Alpha, we’re looking to trial new approaches and tools, simplify key transactions, help people learn how to use our collection, as well as attract new people to The National Archives.
Problem to be solved Our website is vast, confusing, inconsistent, hard to change and expensive to maintain. People looking to access our collection can search our catalogue and records held by other archives (22m entries), or use a transactional service (to obtain a copy or image of a record, register as a reader etc.). Most users arrive from a Google search to somewhere in the catalogue. They are baffled, lacking the mental model they need to use a large archival catalogue for research. To “help” we have 450(!) research guides and other content. Interpretive content, designed to attract new audiences, is disconnected and scattered.
Who the users are and what they need to do We have a large body of audience and user needs research, including the challenges users face working with the archive and their appetite for pay-for services.
• As a researcher I need to find out whether the archive holds records relevant to my enquiry, learn what they are, and access them, so that I have evidence to support my claim.
• As a regular archive user I need to frame sophisticated queries using my knowledge of the collection and its catalogue, to order records so that, when I arrive at Kew, I’m able to quickly get on with my research.
Early market engagement We have done some initial analysis of the market and of the applicability of the technologies available, particularly on AWS. It’s clear there are lots of people who know much more than we do about how to take best advantage of cloud capabilities, so we are looking for experienced help.
From our research we believe modern technologies offer the potential to fundamentally rethink how we deliver our website, for example using static content management, search services such as Elasticsearch, and modern development frameworks.
We have investigated no-sql and graph databases. We are interested in the potential of knowledge graphs. We are generally open minded about linked data. We have looked at schema.org and we are a strong supporter of the archival extensions to that vocabulary. We are more sceptical about the Records in Context initiative but open to persuasion. In previous projects we have used RDF (HTML5+RDFa and JSON-LD) for our metadata. We are passionate about having good URLs. We have investigated the IIIF standard and tools, which we think are a good fit for our digitised content. We recently started running an IIIF content server.
Any work that’s already been done We have started pre-discovery work to prepare for this project. We have been looking at evidence and analysis, stakeholder engagement, and technical. The technical investigation has tasked an in-house team to explore:
opportunities for our data that encompasses both the evidence and interpretative content we hold about the public record;
rethinking our URLs, moving to a resource-based scheme that fully reflects our catalogue and catalogue references;
capabilities of commodity cloud architecture to achieve as light and pliable a tech stack as we can manage, using HTML5 documents with embedded semantic information;
investigation of Elasticsearch advanced capabilities, including with graph data
Existing team A small team is already working on the project, alongside other commitments.
We have most in-house strength in terms of user research. We have:
x3 user researchers and will allocate at least one researcher full time to this project;
a strong lead front end developer who will be technical product lead;
some data analyst capability;
many experts about our collection and catalogue.
We anticipate needing: a technical architect; developer/s; designer/s; content designer/s; web-ops engineer/s; analysts; help with delivery management.
Our in-house design and technical expertise will support, co-create and supplement this work, the partner will lead on reimagining our approach.
Current phase Discovery

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place The Digital Services team is based at The National Archives, Bessant Drive, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
Working arrangements We prefer to have a partner who co-locates with the Digital Services team at The National Archives in Kew.
Security clearance Baseline check (blue) security clearance will be required to co-locate at The National Archives.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Skills and experience
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Essential skills and experience
  • Have expertise in the Government Service Standard and using the Service Manual
  • Have expertise of challenging the way things are done and exploring new ideas
  • Have expertise in building prototypes and testing different ideas
  • Have expertise in the design and development of large scale resource-based architectures
  • Have expertise in selecting and using cloud based technologies to deliver an outcome
  • Have expertise in HTML5 and the application of CSS and JavaScript via progressive enhancement
  • Have expertise in developing pliable front ends that allow for continuous evolution through A/B testing etc.
  • Have expertise in usage and user information (analytics) for personalisation and metrics
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Have understanding of archives and archival practice
  • Have expertise in smart approaches to manage static content at scale in the cloud
  • Have expertise in graph data
  • Have expertise in Elasticsearch and its application to a graph-oriented approach

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 5
Proposal criteria
  • Examples of undertaking a technical and build approach that is in line with the Government Service Standard
  • Examples of challenging the way things are done and exploring new ideas
  • Examples of building prototypes and testing different ideas
  • Examples of the design and development of large scale resource-based architectures
  • Examples of selecting and using cloud based technologies to deliver an outcome
  • Examples of using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript for progressive enhancement
  • Examples of developing pliable front ends that allow for continuous evolution through A/B testing etc.
  • Examples of analysing usage and user information (analytics) for personalisation and metrics
Cultural fit criteria
  • Have a collaborative working approach, e.g. working with in-house technical and other digital specialists
  • Have an approach to facilitation and supporting teams to explore and learn new technologies
  • Have project management and experience of successfully using agile project methodologies
  • Have examples of delivering transition, knowledge transfer and handover of code
Payment approach Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

50%

Cultural fit

20%

Price

30%

Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Would you consider splitting it into a UX discovery and prototyping piece? If not would you accept joint bids? We will not split the project. We are not averse to receiving joint bids, however for the avoidance of doubt we will only enter into a single contract for the work with a supplier who is listed on the DOS Framework; any corporate setup or subcontracting should be made clear in the submission and would be the responsibility of the contracting entity.
2. What is the average time taken to pay suppliers? As stated on our website at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/commercial-opportunities/information-for-our-suppliers/ : "The National Archives aims to reduce invoice payment times to ten working days. All valid goods and services invoices are paid as soon as they have been authorised by the officials responsible for the contract."
3. Is your preference/expectation for full-time co-location for the duration of the project? Would you consider the provider working off-site with visits/meetings to support the project both face-to-face and via technology method? You state a preference for co-location in Kew. How strong is that preference? (This is a consolidation of numerous similar questions we have received). Our preference is for supplier staff to work as much as possible at The National Archives’ premises. We are open to suppliers working offsite, however we are keen that the supplier benefits from our knowledge and skills especially in the area of user research. Please describe what you would put in place to ensure collaborative working, communication and knowledge sharing despite not being co-located. You may also consider whether it would be possible for one or two members of The National Archives’ team to co-locate to your offices.
4. Can you confirm what phases of the project the current identified budget and timeline is intended to cover? From reading this opportunity I believe this to include Discovery and Alpha. Yes, Discovery & Alpha.
5. A key requirement is helping users find content on your site. Are you open to us applying for this tender and working with a 3rd party search specialist to help support the search requirement of this project? We would expect the contract to be with us as the single supplier and we would manage this relationship. We believe bringing excellent digital design and development skills together with specialist search skills will bring the best results for The National Archives. We would be open to you applying to this tender and working with a 3rd party search specialist to help support the search requirement of this project. We’re keen to benefit from the expertise of specialist sub contractors. For the avoidance of doubt, we will not split the project and will only enter into a single contract for the work with a supplier who is listed on the DOS Framework; any corporate setup or subcontracting should be made clear in the submission and would be the responsibility of the contracting entity.
6. The Proposal Criteria ask only for previous examples of the skills, experience and approach you require. Please clarify if and how you will require proposals to cover the supplier's proposed approach to working with you on this engagement. At this stage, we should/will evaluate and shortlist on “examples of the skills, experience and approach”, as we have said in the evaluation criteria. We anticipate shortlisted suppliers explaining how they will work with us on this engagement, as part of their presentation – and we will assess that under “cultural fit”.
7. You note you have worked on pre-discovery work, do you have any documents you are willing to share at this stage? For example, do you have any documents on the current size of your site, or any draft information about the different types on content you currently have on your site? Documents will be shared with shortlisted suppliers.
Our website is 21K+ html pages plus 34m record descriptions in Discovery.
Mainly html pages, asp applications, Discovery, videos, podcasts, some legacy flash applications.
1.1m users per month on average viewing 9.5m pages
We offer 160+ digital services.
40% of visitors use Discovery. 75% arrive from google into catalogue description page with little context of where they are. 68% of them bounce
350 research guides to help navigate the archive
60+ interpretive resources. Some contain c.300 html pages, some built year 2000+ are unresponsive or inaccessible
26% of online users have accessibility requirements
8. You note you have worked on pre-discovery work, do you have any documents you are willing to share at this stage? For example, do you have any documents on the current size of your site, or any draft information about the different types on content you currently have on your site?
ANSWER SLIGHTLY AMENDED
AMENDED
Documents will be shared with shortlisted suppliers.
Our website is 21K+ html pages plus 34m record descriptions in Discovery.
Mainly html pages, asp applications, Discovery, videos, podcasts, some legacy flash applications.
1.1m users per month on average viewing 9.5m pages
We offer 160+ digital services.
40% of visitors use Discovery. 75% arrive from google into catalogue description page with little context of where they are. 68% then bounce
350 research guides to help navigate the archive
60+ interpretive resources. Some contain c.300 html pages, some built year 2000+ are unresponsive or inaccessible
26% of online users have accessibility requirements
9. What would TNA be hoping to achieve by using a graph-oriented approach? E.g. what kind of queries would you hope to resolve? In essence, the ability to link, group or retrieve objects of whatever kind (documents, webpages, people, places, events) in any number of meaningful contexts: by topic, by provenance, by named entity, by popularity, by similarity etc.
10. What type of data would be modelled using graphs? Do you have any samples available? All kinds of data, both structured and unstructured, ranging from the content of documents and their metadata, through databases and webpages, to user behaviours and interactions.
11. Does TNA have a preferred format for graph data (e.g. RDF triples)? No, there is no preferred format and we would like to explore different evidenced approaches.
12. Does TNA have a preferred data store for graph data (e.g. triple store or labelled property graph). Has any been implemented yet? No, there is no preferred data store and we would like to explore different evidenced approaches. No data stores have been implemented in production, but we have experimented with labelled property graphs.
13. When you mention graph data in Elasticsearch, are you explicitly referring to their Graph API (https://www.elastic.co/guide/en/elasticsearch/reference/current/graph-explore-api.html) ? No, we are not explicitly referring to the Elasticsearch Graph API, although we would be happy to look at this option with other suggestions.
14. Do you have a timeline for the shortlisting and choosing supplier process? Will there be an opportunity to meet face-to-face to explore this project in more detail with you? Our anticipated timetable is:
23 August - notify shortlisted suppliers
28-30 August - face-to-face meetings (subject to availability of shortlisted suppliers)
20 September - deadline for written submissions
23 and 24 September - presentations 23 and 24 September
27 September - contract award
15. What timescales are you working to for informing downselected suppliers, submission of proposals and scheduling of presentations? Our anticipated timetable is:
23 August - notfiy shortlisted suppliers
28-30 August - face-to-face meetings (subject to availability of shortlisted suppliers)
20 September - deadline for written submissions
23 and 24 September - presentations 23 and 24 September
27 September - contract award
16. Can we ask what supplier team profile the budget has been based on? The budget has been set to accommodate a variety of different possible supplier team profiles, depending on where bidders have most strength and their approach to delivering work. We are looking for a supplier who can work with The National Archive's in-house team, bringing both a fresh eye and technical capability in areas where we have less experience (e.g. cloud based search tools).
17. You mention pre-discovery work has been undertaken. Have any external suppliers been involved with this work to date? Pre-discovery work has been entirely undertaken by the in-house team. We are working on a set of "week one" briefings for the chosen supplier, covering issues like users, brand, services, the catalogue, to help bring them rapidly up to speed in the domain.
18. In the 'why is the work being done' section, you mention you want to 'simplify key transactions', are you able to provide examples of these? The key transactions generally relate to searching, ordering, viewing and copying documents held at the archive. The current site has lots of starting points, but for an example see: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/visit-us/researching-here/how-to-order-view-and-copy-documents/. Within this we have in mind some specific transactional user journeys we are aiming to improve, such as “Registering as a reader” at: https://secure.nationalarchives.gov.uk/login/yourdetails and also "Copying documents”, at: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/record-copying/. In addition there is an unrelated service in terms of the user group, “Request a search for a certificate of British citizenship 1949-1986”, at: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/contact-us/request-a-search-for-a-certificate-of-british-citizenship-1949-1986/
19. Will Value for Money be evaluated as part of the price section? Value for money will be evaluated as a combination of price and quality criteria, as laid out in 'Evaluation weighting' in the published opportunity.
20. Do data sources exist already? If so can you please describe these different data sources at a high level, incuding the nature of the data source in terms of terms of 1) volume 2) variety (i.e..CSV, relational database, unstructured data) 3) Velocity ( i.e. how often the data sources update, weekly batch, overnight, daily, hourly, near real-time, real time)? The data sources already exist. High level: the main data sources are brought together in a search service ("Discovery"), providing access to 32m records descriptions , held by TNA (16m descriptions) and 2,500+ regional UK archives. TNA's catalogue is managed in a relational database (SQL Server), exported to MongoDB which holds all data for the "Discovery" search service. Whilst in a relational database, catalogue data is best thought of as being hierarchically arranged, semi-structured, document orientated, mixed content. The frequence of updates (velocity) is, in aggregate, low, with daily updates to only a small proportion of the total data held.
21. What is the current technical estate for National Archives? At present the technology estate delivering the website is on premises hardware and software, managed entirely in-house. This consist of a mixture of Microsoft Windows Servers running Server 2008-2016, .NET Framework and .NET Core apps with SQL Server DBs, and MongoDB for the Discovery search service. Wordpress is used for non-catalogue website content. Some legacy applications are running classic ASP. We are in the process of migrating to PaaS, SaaS and IaaS services in AWS cloud.
22. Do you consider social network analysis to be part of your graph data approach? We are interested in the ability to link, group or retrieve objects of whatever kind (documents, webpages, people, places, events) in any number of meaningful contexts: by topic, by provenance, by named entity, by popularity, by similarity. So social network analysis of historical figures might well be relevant, as might the trends and interests of our users (though only in an anonymised, aggregate form).
23. In the fourth essential skill, can you please elaborate what you mean by 'resource-based' architectures? Architectures that adhere to the RESTful style. We think REST is the right architectual paradigm to deliver a website focused around resources such as documents, records, webpages and other "things" (people, organisations, places, events).
24. What are the different document types (Textual PDF, Scanned PDFs etc.) that need to be supported in the new platform? Also, please share total volume and average document size that need to be supported. The majority of the content is catalogue descriptions of records held by The National Archives or other archives in the UK. This is semi-structured document orientated content stored in databases. Only a very small proportion of the archive has been digitised, so users rely on record descriptions. We do provide access to ~9m digitised documents through the website, which have been scanned and are stored as images and served PDFs. The filesizes vary considerably, up to several MBs. Some of the typewritten content has been OCRed.
25. Please share high level details of technology stack in current landscape. At present the technology estate delivering the website is on premises hardware and software, managed entirely in-house. This consist of a mixture of Microsoft Windows Servers running Server 2008-2016, .NET Framework and .NET Core apps with SQL Server DBs, and MongoDB for the Discovery search service. Wordpress is used for non-catalogue website content. Some legacy applications are running classic ASP. We are in the process of migrating to PaaS, SaaS and IaaS services in AWS cloud.
26. Does scope includes extracting information from archived files using various NLP and Cognitive techniques? Or information retrieval already happening, and now need to be modeled in a search index & graph database & made to be consumable through modern techniques? Whilst NLP, NER and similar techniques are of interest for longer term investigation, it is important to remember that only a very small proportion of the archive has been digitised or transcribed. Therefore, we are more interested in better exploitation of existing descriptive metadata held in the catalogue.
27. As part of prototyping phase, please elaborate on key functional capabilities (from end user perspective) which are desired (like key word search, natural language search, graph assisted search, recommendation, analyze documents, cluster etc.). We are interested in all potential improvements to the user's experience. At this stage we imagine the emphasis will be on precision rather than recall (search) and better contextualisation (search, browse, navigate, explore).
28. Alpha.gov.uk seems to be archived – can you share the correct link? https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/*/alpha.gov.uk
29. Can share any other inspiration the team has identified when originating this initiative? Other than alpha.gov.uk, we like how several broadsheet national newspaper websites mix different content types, such as "news" "comment/opinion". We think Trove (https://trove.nla.gov.au/) has some good ideas. We are also very interested in the work and outputs of the W3C Credible Web Community Group (https://www.w3.org/community/credibility/).
30. Who do you see as your competitors? What are some best in class examples of web experiences that your team looks at? We do not have competitors but try and benchmark against other national archives. NARA redesigned their website, with similar goals (https://www.archives.gov/open/redesign/about.html). We like the participatory ideas of Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC) "digilab" (https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/services-public/Pages/digilab.aspx). We managed the development of the Arabian Gulf Digital Archive, which evidences excellent ideas (https://www.agda.ae/en). We have family history researchers, whose expectations are set by ancestry.co.uk and/or findmypast.co.uk. However, our collection bigger and more complicated, we don't have name rich search transcriptions, access relies on our catalogue. The commercial services frame user's expectations (that everything will be digitised and searchable) that we need to manage.
31. Have you done persona development? If so can we get some sample data. Can any pre-discovery work be shared with us? We have been working on some user profiles which we will develop. They include:
Family historian – first time user
Family historian – repeat user
Student – first time user
Educator
Academic
Professional researcher
Other personal interest- first time
Other personal interest – repeat
Invested loyals
32. Do you have current usage stats surrounding how the current information is being consumed and through what medium? Yes. We have compiled a detailed service catalogue including usage information. The main use of our website is people accessing record descriptions through the Discovery search service (500k users per month, 3m page views). After that "help with your research" (300k users per month, 750k page views) and "research guides" (300k users per month, 630k pages views) are the next most used parts of the website. Most users (70%) arrive from a Google Search. There is a large amount of interpretative content, with varying levels of use. As regards devices around 46% is desktop, 36% mobile and 17% tablet.
33. Are there any defined / required features for the Alpha site? Not at this stage although we imagine helping people to search the catalogue will be a major area of focus.
34. Who are your new target users you are looking to attract? We imagine trying to attract people who have a general interest in the past and are curious to learn more, without having a specific research question they are investigating.
35. Is there any Data Migration in scope? Who would be handling data migration if required? Data migration is likely to form an inevitable part of Alpha, but in particular centred around databases - so ETL type. How the migration is conducted is open to discussion.
36. What data models or machine learning models exist to categorize and tag the data? We have experimented with various techniques, including topic modelling, querying by example using training sets, and analysis through editorially curated query (which is the system currently in use).
37. What does the current upload process look like? The Discovery search service is based on data stored in MongoDB. This is an aggregation of data from different sources. There are a variety of different upload processes from different contributing data sources. We do not need to replicate these processes for the Alpha.
38. What data statistics / analytics do you have about the users who access your site? Are there any initial insights into what areas you would improve first? The main use of our website is people accessing record descriptions through the Discovery search service (500k users per month, 3m page views). After that "help with your research" (300k users per month, 750k page views) and "research guides" (300k users per month, 630k pages views) are the next most used. In terms of areas to improve, we know that most users (70%) arrive from a Google Search somewhere into the catalogue. We would like to provide a better initial experience that guides people into learning how to research/use our collection, and potentially to visiting us, in a clear way.
39. What is the current technology stack? Are there any implications into technology selection due to the implementation of the current technology? At present the technology estate delivering the website is on premises hardware and software, managed entirely in-house. This consist of a mixture of Microsoft Windows Servers running Server 2008-2016, .NET Framework and .NET Core apps with SQL Server DBs, and MongoDB for the Discovery search service. Wordpress is used for non-catalogue website content. Some legacy applications are running classic ASP. We are in the process of migrating to PaaS, SaaS and IaaS services in AWS cloud.

We do not want to limit selection of technology to those we currently use.
40. What web browsers/devices are in use in the actual physical National Archives (assume older browsers/devices we normally don’t support) – what upgrade plans do they have? The standard build of Staff PC runs Windows 10 with Internet Explorer 11 but also has Google Chrome 76 installed. However these applications would be externally accessible and all our web applications must meet guidelines documented here: https://github.com/nationalarchives/front-end-development-guide/blob/master/development-guide.md
41. Are you looking to create APIs as part of this Alpha project? Are you aiming to create open APIs (like Met Museum) that third parties can use and access? Yes, we expect the outcome would be an API driven set of services, however, this is Alpha phase so we are not expecting a complete suite of full services so much as the opportunity to experiment to find approaches that work best.
42. Are there confirmed accessibility requirements? The accessibility requirements are described in our development guidelines, here: https://github.com/nationalarchives/front-end-development-guide/blob/master/development-guide.md
43. Has any research or design work been already completed to test 'Natural Language' search? Not as such, although we have done some analysis of past webchat data in order to extract topics and align these with FAQs / common answers.
44. Will the Alpha be open to multi modal content exploration in formats such as Voice, AR VR? Voice may be relevant to some users in some contexts. In addition, there are exciting opportunities for interpretative content using AR and VR but, in this project, the main aims are to address some of the basics, in terms of service design, really well.
45. Your Discovery APi is available, are there any other APIs that might be relevant for exploration or reuse within the Gov uk ecosystem? We are still gathering information from our other systems that may have relevant data. We have not carried out an assessment of the relevance of other APIs in the government ecosystem.
46. The ISAD link to the catalogue entry standards is timing out – is there another source of this information? ISAD (G). https://www.ica.org/en/isadg-general-international-standard-archival-description-second-edition
47. Have you completed any domain mapping of the archives content structure? We anticipate making significant progress in this area before the contract is awarded but do not have anything to share yet.
48. How are collections curated? Is any of the curation process automated or manual? There are archival principles and standards for how we manage the collection, including the catalogue. As the archive of the UK government, record creators (i.e. government departments) decide what records are "historical public records" and should be transferred to TNA. Records are described using catalogue descriptions which are provided to the archive by the record creator. This is largely a manual process. The management and curation of the catalogue is managed by the Cataloguing and Taxonomy team. Volunteers also improve catalogue descriptions of records, where descriptions are poor. On the website, the Digital Services team curate and manage website content.
49. What content security measures such as watermarking or rights usage tools are used? We charge for access to some digitised content. At present we do not use technical controls to uniquely identify files downloaded or apply digital rights management.
50. Where would the site need to be hosted? We anticipate hosting this in AWS in the eu-west region.
51. Are there compliance/security restrictions we need to be aware of? All applications are penetration tested, but besides commercial considerations, none of the data being served by the system is sensitive.
52. What integrations would this website need to consider? We are keen to publish resources using friendly URLs and open APIs to encourage reuse of our data.
53. What web browsers does this need to support? Are there specific requirements you have? This is covered in our development guide, relevant section linked here: https://github.com/nationalarchives/front-end-development-guide/blob/master/development-guide.md#testing-user-goals-across-browsers-devices-and-contexts
54. Do you have a preference regarding Content Management System selection? We are interested in Static Content Management as a potential approach to this, but will take advice on content management.
55. Do you anticipate a requirement for personalisation of experience? We are very interested in exploring personalisation, particularly if it enables us to adapt the user experience in relation to the user's level of experience and the strength of their mental model for working with the archive. We know that the user needs of new users can be quite different from the needs of experienced researchers.
56. Are you open to considering other cloud vendors besides AWS, e.g. Google Cloud Services, Azure? We are cloud vendor agnostic. Our current in-house experience is heavily based on using AWS. Strategically we are aiming for a high level of portability between cloud vendors. Given we are currently using AWS, at this stage we would expect suppliers to make the case for change, if they are proposing a change, by identifying a set of clear benefits to The National Archives.
57. What is the nature of existing archive storage, e.g. all within existing Wordpress/MySQL DB with links to document/image storage of digitized material? For reasons of migration? General website content is a mixture of storage in Wordpress and on our web servers. Digitised records are currently stored as sequences of files with filenames and other metadata stored in our MongoDB database and images stored in S3.
58. How much importance do you allocate to speed of rendering and interactions? Do you have ideal benchmarks for this? We know that having a fast and responsive service is very important to users. We do not have any benchmarks for this.
59. For mobile, do you have any requirements for offline access? No
60. How do you leverage the registered users currently? do you have a specific goal relating to this group moving forward? Our mailing list of includes over 100k people who subscribed from the website. Subscribers are sent details about news, events and exhibitions. Separately users can register to order records to physically view, or to obtain a copy of a record on Discovery. These services are disconnected, there is no single customer database. We would like to develop relationships with our existing users, and attract new people. We want more people to come and visit the archives at Kew, attend an event, see an exhibition, or view records. We are interested in exploring participatory models of user engagement, including participatory membership.
61. What is your current partner strategy (e.g. Ancestry.com) and how do you envisage incorporating this content moving forward. Our commercially licensed content is out of scope for this project.
62. Will the scores from the evidencing round be taken through to final evaluation? Or will they only be used for the purposes of shortlisting suppliers? If they will be, what proportion of the overall evaluation criteria will they make up? The evidencing round (this round) and the final evaluation are each standalone. The scores for this round will only be used for shortlisting suppliers for the next stage.
63. Are you looking for an organisation with previous GDS experience or just individuals within the bid to have GDS experience? Organisational or individual experience of the GDS is not a requirement. Our requirements mean following and having experience of GDS led digital government standards, specifically the Government Service Standard, the Service Manual and the Technology Code of Practice.
64. Is there any expectation this service is to be accessed through Gov.uk? No. The National Archives is exempted from GOV.UK and operates its own website, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.
65. Is this service expected to be exempt from gov.uk guidelines? Whilst the services are not part of GOV.UK, we are expected to fully comply with the Government Service Standard, Service Manual and Technology Code of Practice. In general we aim to follow the GOV.UK guidelines, albeit that some guidelines, for example regarding the visual design, are not applicable.
66. For the first evaluation round (evidence), what would TNA expect to see from an answer for it to be deemed 'exceeding' and score 3 marks? This depends on the section to which you are responding: in general terms, however, in order to receive a score of 3 we would expect to see a very strong example where you demonstrate going above and beyond your initial brief, or have used highly creative and innovative methods, to achieve an outstanding result.
67. As per DOS guidelines, 'You should only provide one example for each essential or nice-to-have requirement', are TNA only requesting one example per skills and experience questio Please follow the DOS guidelines: one example per skill and experience.
68. In the essential skill 'expertise in the Government Service Standard and using the Service Manual', does this mean passing the GDS Service Standard assessment across Alpha, Beta and Live? Yes
69. Are TNA able to provide access to users for the purpose of User Research throughout the Discovery phase? Yes
70. What is the expected timeline and steps for procurement between the first stage and the project starting on the 1st October? Our anticipated timetable is:
23 August - notify shortlisted suppliers
28-30 August - face-to-face meetings (subject to availability of shortlisted suppliers)
20 September - deadline for written submissions
23 and 24 September - presentations 23 and 24 September
27 September - contract award
71. Would it be desirable for the supplier to have experience moving forward to deliver Alpha and Beta phases on previous projects? There is no requirement for the supplier to have had experience of moving projects from Alpha to Beta, the offer includes transition from Discovery to Alpha. Previous experience of delivering an Alpha is desirable.
72. Are TNS [sic - assumed TNA was meant] providing a full time Product Owner to this project? Yes
73. Can TNA organise access to the internal/external stakeholders throughout the project? Yes
74. It is stated that the current phase is 'Discovery'. Can you please confirm that that the Discovery phase hasn't started yet? We have undertaken some in-house Discovery work to prepare for a supplier to join us. It is anticipated that the 'Discovery' phase set out in our offer will start in October 2019.
75. Are there any major deadlines throughout this project? Work is expected to commence 01/10/2019 and a working alpha prototype must be delivered by March 2020.
76. Would TNA accept proposals offering alternative commercial models such as Fixed Price or Time and Materials? No
77. Can you move straight into Alpha without an airgap? We hope this will be possible.
78. Is the budget listed excluding VAT? No
79. You mention in the existing team section that you have some data analyst capability. Is this type of work in scop for the Discovery and Alpha? If so, would it be beneficial for suppliers to have the ability to provide such capability in addition to your own? Yes, and we would expect the preferred supplier to also have data analyst capability to draw on.
80. Will access to existing data sources be available from day 1 of Discovery? If not, when will this data be accessible? Yes, access to the existing data sources will be available from day 1 of Discovery.
81. Do you either require or prefer that public sector examples are cited rather than private sector examples? Or, if we have a relevant private sector example, will it be given equal consideration to a public sector example? All examples, from the public or private sector, will be assessed on their merits in relation to the relevant criterion.
82. How long do they think/perceive an ideal discovery would take? We anticipate Discovery of 2-3 months and Alpha of 3-4 months, which must total, for the avoidance of doubt, to 6 months for both phases, from 1/10/2019.
83. Do you expect data science capability do be required as part of this project? We anticipate a preferred supplier potentially having data analyst capability to draw on.
84. What “help with delivery management” do you require? Is this a capacity or a capability shortfall? We imagine the supplier will have a Delivery Manager as part of its proposed team.
85. Is there a requirement for the new service to take on the design (look and feel) of a gov.uk service, or is there flexibility given the nature of the content/service? This is an exciting opportunity in terms of visual design. The National Archives has recently undertaken a rebranding exercise. The new TNA brand is distinct and very different from the cross government branding seen on GOV.UK, and also from the current design of the www.nationalarchives.gov.uk website. We expect the supplier to apply and help develop The National Archives new brand as part of reimaging our whole website offer, including the design / look and feel. There is lots of potential to help shape and evolve this.
86. Can you share the Archives for Everyone strategy at least High level goals, objectives and KPIs? The National Archives is an essential resource for our democracy, a public good and an asset for future generations. Our plan to be inclusive, entrepreneurial and disruptive. The inclusive archive builds trust and tears down barriers to access, participation and understanding. It harnesses talent from diverse backgrounds. The entrepreneurial archive creates and realises value at home and across the globe. The disruptive archive changes everything. Constantly adapting, it rethinks and reshapes its practice to meet its contemporary and future challenges.
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/our-role/plans-policies-performance-and-projects/our-plans/archives-for-everyone/
87. Can you share any of the feedback responses from the survey you have on the site? A survey this year indicated that most website users found what they were looking for, but 30% said they were not able to do so. Also, although 58% found it very easy or quite easy to find what they needed, 22% found it neither easy nor difficult, and almost one in five found it quite or very difficult. Most users only use the website once, suggesting a return visit is likely driven by need. 64% of respondents were too far away to visit Kew regularly so the website is their primary interaction with The National Archives.
88. You currently have different sites for written and image... are you looking for a solution so combine or is the focus on the document archive? Yes. The current website is divided into silos, such as the catalogue/Discovery search service, research guides, image library, blogs, podcasts, online exhibitions etc, which we really want to break down. We want to create a much more integrated and joined-up user experience that more seamlessly meets user's needs. Essentially, the ability to link, group or retrieve content of whatever kind (documents, webpages, people, places, events) in any number of meaningful contexts: by topic, by provenance, by named entity, by popularity, by similarity etc, with well designed user journeys.
89. Do you have longer 5-10 year strategic plans for the National Archive that this Alpha project would need to fit into? Our new business strategy, Archives for Everyone, was agreed by Ministers earlier this year. It is a four year strategic plan based on a 12 year view of the horizon. The National Archives website redevelopment is a key part of realising our new strategy. See: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/our-role/plans-policies-performance-and-projects/our-plans/archives-for-everyone/
90. What do you see as Phase 2? At this stage the aim is to move on to a beta development, in 2020/21.
91. What do you define as a successful Alpha completion? What data/feedback do you want to get out of the completion of this phase of work? That we have tested our riskiest assumptions - that we can massively simplify our service offer reducing the amount of content whilst delivering a better user experience, enable active user participation, successfully integrate our on-site and digital experience, and provide high quality content (podcasts about historical events etc) that helps attracts new people to engage with us.
92. Are there any current insights into user’s current issues with the site? Are the issues mentioned in the brief purely from the business? Our research shows that users can be baffled and overwhelmed when working with the website. Users are typically seeking information but they lack the mental model they need to search the archive's catalogue. They imagine we've digitised everything, when in fact we've only digitised a tiny amount. We have created a lot of help and guidance - too much to easily comprehend. Underlying this is a basic challenge - archival research is quite difficult. Using an archive is a skill you learn and develop - a bit like learning a musical instrument. We would like to support users to learn.
93. From the brief, it is confident that the structure of the data is mentioned to be in good order – what’s currently holding you back from providing adequate search functionality? Users lack the mental model they need to search the archive's catalogue. An archival catalogue is a hierarchical descriptive inventory, that aims to maintain how records were organised by their creator. This helps contextualise the records, so you know what they are evidence of, and provides users with a finding aid. Necessarily, different parts of the catalogue are different, because they reflect different record-keeping practices by creators. Thus archival research is quite difficult. Using an archive is a skill you learn and develop - a bit like learning a musical instrument. We would like to support users to learn.
94. Who would own the technology stack post-alpha? Who would be able to support the stack from your side? It is expected The National Archives (the Crown) will own the bespoke parts of the technology stack post-alpha and we would aim to support it in-house.
95. What from GDS are required to use? For example, does Whitehall need to be leveraged? The service is not intended to be part of gov.uk and will not need to be integrated with the Whitehall Publisher. That said certain GDS standards will apply, such as the Government Service Standard and Service Manual.
96. Will the aim be to integrate with gov.uk systems? Not at present.
97. Who are the additional users the NA are hoping to attract to use the archive? There is a very large number of people who are interested in the past, in history, heritage and culture, but who lack specific research questions to engage with the archive's collection themselves by searching our catalogue or using our reading room. We would like to facilitate access to the archive for this much bigger group of people, in ways they find interesting and engaging. We imagine doing this through curation and story telling, putting the past into context, through our amazing records. Our cold war theme and exhibition is a good example.
98. What can you share to give an idea of the monetisation or commercial model that would be part of the NA Vision. For example who might NA partner with to bring NA content to 3rd parties more easily. In this project we are looking at our own website offer for users / consumers, rather than to 3rd party partnerships. In particular, we are investigating a purpose based, participatory membership offer. This may or may not include a content offer, as part of a membership subscription.
99. Is there research around what are users are willing or not willing to pay for? We have a good understanding of our current users and their willingness to pay. We have less understanding of pricing elasticity and potential wider demand.
100. Your data entry catalogue entry goes to Page level. What level of catalogue would your users require- is the intention to design for words and phrases to the level of IIIF? This is an area for further investigation.
101. Is the NA used predominately by the UK or is it a global audience? If global, are there plans for multi language? The audience is global. We would not want to close off the possibility of other languages, although there are no plans for additional languages at present.
102. Is there a requirement to support additional languages? We would not want to close off the possibility of other languages, although there are no initial plans for additional languages within this service offering.
103. The proposal criteria seem to repeat much of the evidence asked for the first stage. Can we ask what additional information you will be expecting in the proposal stage specifically? Details of what is required at the proposal stage will be shared with shortlisted suppliers. In general terms, written proposals will be asked to cover the work criteria already given about the opportunity (as published, ‘About the work’, Work setup’, ‘Skills and experience’) in greater detail than at this initial stage; the cultural fit criteria; a relevant case study, work history, and reference; a full explanation of fees.
104. You mention in question 6 you will assess how suppliers will work with you under cultural fit. Where will you be asking for and evaluating suppliers approach to delivering the outcome? E.g the work that will be done, timelines, team etc. Suppliers shortlisted following this initial stage will be assessed for cultural fit, by written proposals and presentations. At this stage we are seeking evidence of your/your organisation’s skills and experience; you may wish to address team experience at this stage, as well as evidence that your approach can meet our requirements.
105. In order to compare suppliers like for like, how will price be evaluated? (e.g total cost, day rates, blended day rate etc.) Specifically, how will the split between Discovery and Alpha price be assessed? Price information will be requested from shortlisted suppliers and is not required at this stage.