Awarded to Digi2al Limited

Start date: Monday 20 January 2020
Value: £9,696,620
Company size: SME
Royal Navy - Programme NELSON.

Digital Services Partner to develop digital and data products and UCD services.

24 Incomplete applications

18 SME, 6 large

28 Completed applications

15 SME, 13 large

Important dates

Monday 4 November 2019
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 11 November 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 18 November 2019 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
A core team to conduct agile, UCD product development through Discovery, Alpha, Beta and Live, support improvements to NELSON's organisational structure and nurture the Navy's Digital Leaders of the future. With a total contract value available for the flexible and rapid provision of additional teams to deliver digital outcomes.
Latest start date
Monday 9 December 2019
Expected contract length
2 years
South East England
Organisation the work is for
Royal Navy - Programme NELSON.
Budget range
Initial commitment for a baseline level of service, over 24 months, amounting to £845k Inc VAT. Broken down as follows:

£211k in FY19/20.
£422k in FY20/21.
£211k in FY21/22.

In addition, a total Limit of Liability (LoL) of £9.69m inc VAT over 24 months to spin-up agile teams as demand requires. This total LoL, including the core team commitment above, is broken down as follows:

£2.1m in FY19/20.
£4.1m in FY20/21.
£3.4m in FY21/22.

About the work

Why the work is being done
Programme NELSON leads Digital Transformation delivery within the Navy. In response to increasing demand for rapid application development across a range of Royal Navy domains, NELSON requires a digital services partner that can rapidly deploy a range of application development services to deliver specific digital and information outcomes. These User Centred Digital products will shape the way the Navy transforms for the future.

NELSON also needs to transition to a more sustainable organisational footing. With a requirement to scale into a highly credible and exemplar digital delivery team.
Problem to be solved
NELSON is accelerating its growth having stimulated cultural change and generated an increasing demand that involves letting multiple contracts at pace. Resulting in a bottleneck that delays delivery, reduces benefits and undermines cultural change.

NELSON needs both a core team and scale-able resource, responsive to incoming funded projects that can be run with a light touch as its responsibility and influence grows across defence. In sum, the needs are:

a. Provide a flexible on-demand digital service to support the requirements capture of digital applications through the discovery phases of the digital life-cycle.

b. Rapidly spin-up digital delivery teams to develop applications to meet user needs to time and cost.

c. Support NELSON in knowledge transfer, developing digital leaders and building in-house digital capabilities to be an exemplar digital centre-of-excellence.

d. Enable NELSON to transition to a more sustainable organisational footing with a more efficient means to secure it's position in the mid-long term. This will involve improving mechanisms to deliver at scale.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a Navy user, I need better ways to access, understand and use my data, so that I can do my job better.

As a developer, I need standard guidance and components for building applications for NELSON, so that I can build applications quickly, deploy them easily, and keep the experience consistent and easy to use for users.

As NELSON Royal Navy officers, civil servants, and other suppliers, I need assistance and guidance on managing and scaling the programme, so that we can expand rapidly, while delivering reliably and managing increasing interest and expectations for application delivery.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Programme NELSON is 2 years old with a data platform for ingesting data and deploying applications. Several UCD projects are underway with both internal teams to the Royal Navy and external partners. Early versions of a design standards toolkit and boilerplate app are published to open source, with a public facing standards website also published.
Existing team
Current core team consists of two senior leaders and three civil servants, with confirmed expansion over the next year. Current third party service provision totals 70+ specialists, including a core platform build and maintenance team, data scientists, and infrastructure support. These rainbow teams work within a "one team NELSON" and a learning culture.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Semaphore Tower, Portsmouth Naval Base, Portsmouth, PO1 3LT
Working arrangements
We would like the supplier to become a digital delivery partner integrated into the NELSON team.
This requires a minimum presence of 3 days a week in the office. On other days working from home is permissible but a general presence is encouraged. (Some roles, e.g. management will require more in office time).

Staff working on projects may have need to travel to conduct user research activities.
Security clearance
SC clearance required at minimum. DV an advantage in certain roles.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
The following DEFCONS (latest editions) shall apply: 5J, 76, 502, 513, 515, 516, 518, 520, 522, 526, 527, 529, 530, 531, 534, 537, 538, 550, 566, 602B, 604, 608, 611, 642, 658, 659A, 660, 694.

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
  • Supplier has ability to develop digital services in both discovery and alpha.
  • Supplier has capability to develop digital services using a range of Open Source Technologies (list available on application).
  • Supplier has experience of delivering services in an agile user centred way in the public sector.
  • Supplier is able to provide User Research, Design, Technical Architecture, Business Analyst, Data Engineer and Front End Development skills.
  • Demonstrable experience of User Research methodologies, and researching across a wide variety of contexts.
  • Demonstrable experience of effective recording of discovery outputs, Alpha developments, and handovers of User Centred Design work across teams.
  • Demonstrable experience of managing multiple multidisciplinary teams, at scale.
  • Demonstrable experience of creating an agile environment within a learning organisation in which groups are nurtured to become high performing teams.
  • Demonstrable experience of Knowledge Transfer to up-skill key non digitally native team members.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Have experience of using data to enable the delivery of digital services and of creating data products and services.
  • Experience of military environments.
  • Experience in communicating value of digital and technical projects to a non-technical audience.
  • Experience in the following general toolsets: Linux, Atlassian, Google Suite, O365.
  • Experience of carrying out user centred design in classified environments.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Evidence services that have been developed, the approaches adopted and the issues encountered/resolved.
  • Evidence of working collaboratively in a multi-supplier environment or strategies that will be used.
  • Approach and methodology, including experience of the essential and nice to have skills and experience.
  • Description of how you have been able to scale up development teams quickly to meet customer demand, with reference to previous work.
  • How the supplier's approach or solution meets our goal.
  • How the supplier has identified risks and dependencies and offered approaches to manage them.
  • Team structure and resourcing models, including experience of working alongside clients in co-located, integrated teams.
  • Ability to create effective supporting governance to nurture agile team working at scale.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation and other suppliers.
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions.
  • Value better use of data and user centred design best practises.
  • Have a no-blame culture and encourage people to learn from their mistakes.
  • Take responsibility and embrace accountability for their work.
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members.
  • Sensitive and mentoring approach to Knowledge Transfer.
  • Challenge practices and behaviours that do not support Digital Transformation, working constructively to improve them.
  • Make a positive impact quickly and respond to feedback.
Payment approach
Time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Work history
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. The second essential skill required to support the NELSON Digital Service Partner states “Supplier has capability to develop digital services using a range of Open Source Technologies (list available on application)”. I would be grateful if you could provide the list of Open Source Technologies please.
Common Open Source technologies including but not exclusively: Apache NiFi, Apache Hbase, Apache Hive, Apache Phoenix-SQL, Scala, Hadoop File System, Python, React-JS, Docker, Jenkins.
2. 2. Can the authority clarify the steps to get to contract signature in December and what the timescales are?
The following steps are expected to be required to complete this procurement process:
Closed to Submissions - Mon 18 Nov
Shortlist Suppliers, notify & feedback - circa Tue 26 Nov
Shortlisted Supplier Proposal Presentations - circa Thu 5 Dec
Downselect & Feedback - circa Tue 10 Dec
Award Contract - Shortly After.
3. For the question related to providing roles and skills, are we required to provide a single example where we have provided them or can we give several examples?
Please provide multiple examples if you feel it will illustrate the desired skills and behaviours more effectively. You are not limited to one example but be aware of the word limit.
4. Will the Digital Services Partner help in defining a Future Operating Model for Programme Nelson Digital Services?
The future operating model is already defined at a high-level. However, there is still ample scope to inform the detail beneath this. The Digital Partner will help shape the approaches, outputs, and outcomes and will be expected to contribute to a learning and constantly improving organisation that aspires to be an exemplar digital team.
5. Please confirm that the digital environments (e.g. networks, storage, servers, cloud services etc.,) and software development tooling will be provided to the SDP as GFx.
Yes, access will be provided to the environments and tooling as required. For example we provide G-Suite, Atlassian Software and Slack to name a few.
6. Are you able to give an indication of the potential size and composition of digital development teams?
The Government Digital Service (GDS) provides guidelines on the composition of teams for product development. NELSON uses GDS guidelines as a key reference.
7. What would the interaction be between the supplier's core team and the existing team of two senior leaders and three civil servants?
Initially it is expected that there would be daily interaction with the senior leadership team. NELSON is scaling to meet demand, including an uplift of permanent military and civil service personnel. Ongoing, close interaction is likely to pivot to include other NELSON employees as digital services are developed in their respective domains.
8. Can you please confirm your understanding of the roles required for the Core Team?
Roles for the core team include Delivery Management, Office Management and Senior Professional Leads.
9. Is the intention for the supplier's core team to formally programme manage Project Nelson, prioritising future development projects and providing Agile coaching for existing staff?
No, however opportunities to work with the Delivery Support Office and shape improved ways of working are encouraged as NELSON scales.
10. Is there an incumbent currently managing the delivery of Project Nelson?
11. Can the Authority confirm who is currently providing these services?
As this is a new opportunity this question is not applicable.
12. Can you please provide a list of your open source technologies, as per the requirement on question 2
Common open source technologies include: Apache NiFi, Apache Hbase, Apache Hive, Apache Phoenix-SQL, Scala, Hadoop File System, Python, React-JS, Docker, Jenkins
13. Is there a current or future ‘design, develop, operate’ model for Programme Nelson?
Within the RN's Digital and Data Strategy we have articulated a Target Operating Model. That strategy will be provided to all suppliers at the Industry day event and on request until Mon 18 Nov.
14. How many people a potential supplier is expected to provide and what is their roles breakdown?
We will not define or prescribe the scope of the team required, rather we will set the desired outcome and allow an empowered team to self organise to deliver. Government Digital Services guidance on team membership during different phases of delivery will provide a guide on roles and responsibilities for service delivery.
15. Is this requirement subject to be Purdah, in terms of the anticipated start date?
No. Purdah commenced 6th Nov. This requirement is "essential business" and was published 4th Nov prior to Purdah being in place.
16. How does the Authority plan to contract outcomes for future work on this opportunity?
When projects are identified the authority will raise a Service-level Agreement (SLA) that defines the expected outcomes from the supplier. This will likely include a statement of objectives, a list of services to be covered by the agreement and definition of responsibilities. Once issued there is an expectation that resources would be provided to meet the need within a period between 1 and 3 weeks.
17. If there is a model can it be used to identify the areas of interest for the Digital Service partner?
Please clarify this question.
18. Will you sponsor SC?
19. Please can the Authority confirm if this engagement is considered to be inside or outside of IR35.
This engagement is considered to be outside IR35 - outcomes are expected not man power substitutions. Will confirm via HMRC IR35 Tool and potential suppliers will be notified of outcome regarding pay roll.
20. If non list X companies are ineligible to apply for this opportunity and/or personnel who don’t already have SC will be unacceptable, please can the Authority confirm that this is in line with guidance at, namely that "Advertising for staff that already hold a security clearance is contrary to government policy, unnecessary and potentially discriminatory
We have not said any potential suppliers must be List X, simply that DV clearance would be "an advantage". Suppliers should have applied for SC clearance and undergoing vetting processing with the clearances in time for contract start date.
21. Given the statement "SC clearance required at minimum. DV an advantage in certain roles”, please can the Authority confirm if it will be content to process and hold new clearances or whether the Supplier will be expected to do so. If the latter, can the Authority please confirm if non List X companies are therefore ineligible to apply for this opportunity.
The supplier is expected to process and hold their own clearances. Clearances can be managed by 3rd parties. The authority will not hold or sponsor clearances. Non-list X companies can apply but they should have applied for SC clearance and should be in place at contract start date.
22. In order to ensure this is a fair competition, please can the Authority confirm that suitable Ethical Wall agreements are in place with current and previous suppliers to Programme Nelson?
We have a process in place which avoids conflicts of interest from our current suppliers and this procurement. We have limited the disclosure of information pertaining to this requirement to the existing team by ensuring the ownership has been solely Crown Servant owned. This will ensure commercially sensitive information remains undisclosed between suppliers, making it a open and fair competition. No existing team members will be involved in any evaluation.
23. Will the Royal Navy provide SC sponsorship, if required?
24. Would you consider sponsoring staff getting SC clearance whilst on the project, i.e. passing BPSS clearance and then undergoing SC vetting whilst delivering?
25. What SLAs are you looking to apply for rapidly spinning up digital delivery teams, in terms of mobilisation?
When projects are identified the authority will raise a Service-level Agreement (SLA) that defines the expected outcomes from the supplier. This will likely include a statement of objectives, a list of services to be covered by the agreement and definition of responsibilities. Once issued there is an expectation that resources would be provided to meet the need within a period between 1 and 3 weeks.
26. Is there an intention to allow utilisation of the current third party service provision to cater for any of the future projects that may be needed?
There is not a current supplier that fulfils the Digital Services Partner requirement. Work can be sub-contracted to other suppliers as necessary including previous suppliers to NELSON.
27. Please can you confirm what teaming arrangements you are considering?
To be agreed with supplier and Navy Stakeholders. NELSON employs a range of agile methodologies and team compositions are flexible to suit the customer and complexity of the task.
28. If down-selected to bid stage, are we likely to receive further scope information in addition to that already received? Will there be an opportunity to visit the Nelson offices in Portsmouth
No further scope will be provided. Yes presentations by bidders that are down-selected will be hosted at the NELSON Offices in Portsmouth.
29. Will there be an opportunity to visit the Nelson offices in Portsmouth?
Yes, there will be an opportunity if you are down-selected.
30. Based on the on-site requirements, is there a particular way of working that you’re proposing?
We utilise kanban boards and scrum and keenly embracing principles of learning and improving. DSP efforts to support, nurture and help improve those are sought.
31. How do you envisage the supplier to be embedded into your organisation and the interfaces with your existing programmes?
We would expect a core team to be provided who will enable the scaling of delivery through the rapid on-boarding and orientation of the new development teams. The core team will need to understand the dependencies from other RN programmes and ensure they are managed and communicated appropriately to internal NELSON teams. The core team will provide the strategy and leadership to ensure coherence across the teams, enabling consistent high quality delivery.
32. Approximately what size team are you expecting?
It is anticipated that a core team would expand to approximately eight personnel, with the requirement to spin up numerous teams to support the growing demand for digital initiatives across the RN.
33. Are you expecting the value advertised to be predominately resource based or are you flowing packages of work through the contract?
We intend the value to be resource (time and materials) based scoped against defined requirements and activities e.g. provide a team of XYZ to deliver a 6 week discovery for Partner A.