Awarded to Mace & Menter

Start date: Tuesday 15 October 2019
Value: £7,000
Company size: SME
Policy Lab, Cabinet Office

User researcher required urgently for UK-wide trial.

5 Incomplete applications

5 SME, 0 large

15 Completed applications

15 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Monday 16 September 2019
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 18 September 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 23 September 2019 at 11:59pm GMT


Specialist role
User researcher
Summary of the work
We are looking for a user researcher to assist us with understanding and evaluating the progress of 3 simple prototypes which are being tested at Job Centres across the UK. You will visit 7 sites, and use a combination of observation and interviewing to understand & make recommendations for iterations.
Latest start date
Monday 7 October 2019
Expected contract length
2 months. There may also be the possibility of a second phase of work starting in January.
Organisation the work is for
Policy Lab, Cabinet Office
Maximum day rate

About the work

Early market engagement
Who the specialist will work with
You will report to, and work closely with, a Senior Policy Designer at Policy Lab. You may also work with other members of the Policy Lab research & design team.
What the specialist will work on
You will carry out research on 3 prototypes being tested in 8 sites. You will use observation, interviews and group discussions/retrospectives to understand how they are being used, their successes/failures, and what they show about the experiences of those accessing the service.

You will write a report after each visit, and make recommendations for improvements.

You may be required to conduct remote research (e.g. phone calls/Hangouts). You will be required to come to Westminster at the beginning and at milestones.

Site visits will mostly be conducted alongside a Senior Policy Designer. You may be required to undertake some visits alone.

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Policy Lab is based in London, and initial meetings would be at our office in Westminster. The project involves visiting 8 sites across England, Scotland and Wales, and most of your time will be spent at these sites. The sites are all Job Centres. You will sometimes be required to catch early or late trains outside of normal working hours.
Working arrangements
You will work to a Senior Policy Designer. They will accompany you on most, if not all, visits, but you may be required to undertake some of the later visits alone or with another member of the team. There will be 7 day-long site visits (+ travel), in addition to the other activities outlined.
Security clearance

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
The successful candidate will be expected to sign a NDA.

Skills and experience

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

Essential skills and experience
  • Have experience conducting research with vulnerable groups
  • Have experience conducting 1-1 and group interviews with users
  • Have the ability to understand, infer and/or ask questions about the participant's wider experiences, being able to consider them more broadly than just as a 'user' of a specific prototype
  • Be committed to conducting research confidentiality and with ethical integrity.
  • Be a good note-taker, and have the ability to synthesis notes into research reports and recommendations
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Have experience conducting observational research
  • Have experience evaluating prototypes, or working on a trial
  • Have experience conducting research/testing across multiple sites

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many specialists to evaluate
Cultural fit criteria
  • Be able to work both independently and collaboratively
  • Be able to take direction, and also to contribute new ideas and approaches
Assessment methods
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Interview
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is there a current incumbent?
Site visits for an earlier phase have previously been conducted by full-time permanent members of the Policy Lab team. There has not been a previous contractor on this project.
2. What level of clearance is required?
Clearance is not required, however the supplier will be asked to sign an NDA to ensure confidentiality.
3. What is the max budget for this task?
The maximum budget is £7,000. Please also note the weighting placed on cost when assessing suppliers.
4. To confirm – the maximum day rate that could be offered to an agency is £175 per day?
I assume you've calculated this from the length of the contract. Just to clarify, the length is listed as approximately 2 months because this is the period we would expect the work to take place over. It should be clear from the requirements that this is not intended to be a full-time job for the entirety of that 2 months. Therefore there is not a ceiling of £175 per day. You can use the requirements (e.g. 7 site visits + report writing) to propose a certain number of days work, and apply your day rate to that.
5. Will there be flexibility for the on-site visits, or have they been scheduled already?
They have not been scheduled, and they will be flexible. However, a number of people's availability does need to be coordinated, so the supplier should be able to have a good degree of flexibility.
6. Does the maximum budget of £7,000 include travel costs for the site visits, or are travel costs additional as we currently don't know the destinations?
Travel costs are to be paid by the supplier, so should be factored into your costings. There is 1 site in Scotland, 1 in Wales and the rest are spread around England, mostly in the Midlands and North.
7. Does the day rate need to cover the cost of travel outside of Westminster?
Yes, travel costs should be paid by the supplier so day rate/costs should include this.
8. Can you please advise if the £7000 is the total budget for the full 2 months and whether travel and subsistence will be paid?
£7,000 is the total cost for the project. It is a number of days spread out over 2 months (i.e. not full time for 2 months). Travel and subsistence should be paid by the supplier, so these costs should be factored in.
9. The brief seems to contradict itself on the number of sites. Please could you confirm if it would be 7 sites or 8 sites?
There are 8 sites but you'd only be doing site visits to 7 of them.
10. Do you know the locations of the site visits? If so, where are they?
There is 1 site in Scotland and 1 in Wales. The others are all in England, mostly in the Midlands & the North.
11. After each visit you have asked for a report. Would you be open to a slide presentation with findings and recommendations (as a show and tell/retrospective) instead?
Yes, we'd definitely be open to the report being in the form of a slidedeck. The format is not particularly important, but the important thing to note is that it is important to capture the detail as well as the analysis/overarching findings.
12. In terms of visits to Westminster, are you wanting visits to Westminster after each site visit is completed? As you only mention 'milestones' in the brief. What are these milestones?
No, the visits to Westmintster would not be that frequent. There should be one before the site visits begin, and one at the end to collate all of the findings.
13. Or are you open to remote catch-ups/presentation of feedback/recommendations?
We had envisaged two visits to us in Westminster (one before and one after the site visits), but these could be substituted for something remote. Please specify this in the bid if so. There would be no formal presentation of findings after each site visit other than the report (which is written, rather than an in-person presentation).
14. Is the budget including travel? As travel costs for this project could be a substantial proportion of the budget.
The supplier would be expected to pay their own travel, and this should be factored into the costs they propose.
15. Will the prototypes change between the site visits, or will these remain constant throughout the research period?
They will probably change. It is not likely they will change drastically, but it is the nature of an ongoing iteration process that we cannot foresee what the changes will be.
16. Please provide details for:

1. Locations for all 8 site visits.
2. The estimated time on site for these visits.
3. The number of mile stone visits.
4. The estimated time on site for these visits.
5. The number of days to allow for remote research.
6. The location for the remote research – Office/home.
7. Whether travel by train is mandatory.
1. The sites are spread across UK - 1 in Wales, 1 in Scotland rest throughout England
2. 1 full day each
3. 1 at beginning and 1 at end
4. See answer to 2 (same question)
5. No more than 1 in total, spread across meetings across the 2 months.
6. Either
7. Supplier is responsible for travel so it is your choice.
17. Who's responsibility will be to book the users at the site visit? And how many users will (on average) be engaged with per site visit?
The supplier books and pays for the visits. The number of users per visits will vary. It will be some 1-1 interviews/observations and some groups. Could be as few as 5 people or as many as 30 involved throughout all the research activities.
18. Who are the users (roles) who the prototypes will be tested with? In the essential skills you mention vulnerable users...are these users vulnerable? If so, please describe how they are vulnerable e.g disabilities, elderly.
The users are job centre employees and their customers. Many of the customers will be vulnerable e.g. some will be disabled
19. Do you have any detail on the total number of days you think will be needed or when the effort will be needed during the two month period? E.G Do you expect a need for a few days per week throughout the two months or a couple of weeks of full time effort at certain points?
The total number of days will be 1 day per site visit (+ any travel time required around this), + time for site visit write-up (perhaps 0.5 days per visit) + 2-hour in-person meeting at start and 2-hour meeting (in person or remote) at end + final report of recommendations (perhaps 0.5-1 day). You also asked another question alongside this which I will answer separately because there is not enough space here.
20. You refer to the 'bid' in Q13. You haven't mentioned a proposal. Therefore when do you foresee the specialist to express how they will go about the work – will this by verbally at the interview for instance?
Sorry if the language caused confusion. Suppliers will be assessed as advertised, using a combination of work history, reference and interview. The interview will be the supplier's opportunity to express how they will go about the work.
21. Are you following the DOS guidance when it comes to the scoring of the essential and nice-to-have skills? For example, 'per 100 response 1) what the situation was 2) the work you did 3) what the results were. Only provide one example for each essential or nice-to-have requirement.
In line with the guidance on shortlisting suppliers, the proof of skills and experiences will be scored as follows:

0 Not met or no evidence
1 Partially met
2 Met
3 Exceeded

In line with guidance, only 1 example is required for each.
22. Does the 7K budget exclude VAT?
Yes, this would include VAT.
23. Hello. Please can you confirm whether this role is inside or outside of IR35.
HMRC has a tool to help people determine their tax status:
24. You have advertised this as specialist role rather than an outcome. The data you will get back to score on will be the 'day rate' and you'll use this information to shortlist. We are not able to say how many days we think this work will take. Therefore a higher day rate will score less than a lower day rate. E.g £700p/d over 10 days = £7,000 vs £350p/d over 20 days = £7,000. Same cost to you but scoring is different possible ruling out people. Please could you say how we express total cost rather than day rate?
We will not be evaluating suppliers on day rate, just the total price. How you express your total cost will not be an evaluation criteria.