Awarded to Torchbox Ltd

Start date: Tuesday 7 February 2017
Value: £60,000
Company size: SME
Health Research Authority

Health Research Authority website redevelopment project - Alpha and Beta

0 Incomplete applications

55 Completed applications

50 SME, 5 large

Important dates

Wednesday 11 January 2017
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 18 January 2017 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 25 January 2017 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Working with the HRA’s Product Delivery Manager, the supplier will take forward the Discovery outputs, building on existing research, creating a content strategy for the HRA website ( and will lead on both the Alpha and Beta phases, whilst utilising agile methodologies.
Latest start date
February 2017
Expected contract length
Four months
No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Health Research Authority
Budget range
up to £60,000

About the work

Why the work is being done
The HRA’s website has existed in its current form for a number of years. Evidence from internal and external users is that the site is not fit for purpose. User research and feedback has told us that the website is difficult to navigate, content is hard to find and understand, and the site is information-dense. We want a contractor to carry out both the alpha and beta phases of development to support us in developing a new, fit-for purpose site; including technology selection, customisation, design and information architecture.
Problem to be solved
We want to create a new HRA website that meets the needs of our users and is future-proof, ensuring we are responsive to emerging technologies and trends, that we can build on to limit the need for future large-scale redevelopments. Our current website has grown organically as the HRA has taken on new services and responsibilities. It is dense and complex to navigate, holding around 400 pages and over 1,000 documents. The user journeys are unclear and result in a large number of unnecessary contacts by users via phone and email.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Our primary users are the UK/England health and social care research community, who need to find information quickly and easily in order to receive guidance to enable them to apply for and obtain approval for their research projects. As such the information needs to be set out simply with clearly defined ‘journeys’ for applicants.

Other important users include stakeholders who need to find out information about what HRA is and its roles and responsibilities; journalists and others wanting news on HRA developments, and HRA staff, who need information to allow them to carry out their duties.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The Discovery phase of the project has recently been completed, which has helped us to identify the issues and areas for improvement on our existing site ( We will provide shortlisted suppliers with the summary findings from the Discovery phase. In line with the Digital Service Standard, we will be looking for the chosen supplier to support us with collecting further research and testing, where appropriate, to complement our existing findings so that we can create a final set of user needs that will be utilised throughout the project.
Existing team
The supplier will be working with the in-house Product Delivery Manager and other members of the HRA’s Communications team.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The project team are based in Manchester and as such the majority of the work will take place here (Health Research Authority, 3rd Floor, Barlow House, 4 Minshull Street, Manchester, M1 3DZ), however meetings will take place in our London office too (Health Research Authority, Ground Floor, Skipton House, 80 London Road, London, SE1 6LH).
Working arrangements
Reporting to the Product Delivery Manager, the supplier will work with a small internal team to deliver this project. We would like to have daily virtual scrum meetings to check progress as well as a mixture of face to face and virtual meetings to ensure that the project is on track, moving forward and resolving issues and over-coming barriers as they arise.
Security clearance

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Due to time constraints associated with this project we would like to see a proposal with a breakdown of costings for each of the phases (Alpha and Beta). To ensure the project continues to be effective, we would also like to include review and breakpoints into the contract between the Alpha and Beta phase.

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 developing websites for the public sector
  • Extensive and proven experience of working on successful website development projects from design to delivery
  • Good working knowledge of the Government Service Design Manual
  • Exceptional audience and stakeholder research skills, including experience in how to target stakeholders
  • Experience and practical knowledge of accessibility standards and trends
  • Experience of planning and delivering projects utilising agile methodologies
  • A strong foundation in user-centred design
  • Experience of hosting and facilitating workshops with stakeholders both internally and externally to feed into the design and development of a content strategy and appropriate information architecture for the website
  • The capability to build a platform accessible across all devices, on all browsers, integrated with Google analytics and SEO
  • The ability to provide support and maintenance during and after the website has launched
  • Experience of developing engaging and dynamic web templates and services that meet user needs
  • Experience of developing clickable prototypes, testing and iterating the concept based on the needs of users
  • Experience of articulating information such as user research and website analytics to audit and define key content and services
  • Access to a multi-disciplinary team including: a delivery manager, user researchers, content designers, developers, technical architect and accessibility lead
Nice-to-have skills and experience
Experience of working with a small organisation without extensive internal digital team

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Technical solution
  • Approach and methodology
  • How the approach or solution meets user needs
  • Estimated timeframes for work
  • Value for money
  • Cultural fit with the organisation.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation, seeking to understand us and find a flexible way of working that takes into consideration restrictions of working with teams with conflicting priorities
  • Be responsive to our needs and the challenges running a project with staff being located around the country
  • Transparent and collaborative when making decisions
  • Solution-focused, offering suggestions of how we might be able to resolve issues and challenges along the way
  • Understanding of the values and culture of the HRA and the length of time for decision making
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members.
Payment approach
Fixed price
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Are you planning on hosting a Q&A webinar with potential suppliers?
Yes we are planning on hosting a webinar on Thursday 19 January from 10:00 until 11:00. The dial in details can be found below;

To join the meeting on a computer or mobile phone:

Dial: 02036085256
Enter Meeting ID: 454926911
Press #
Want to test your video connection?
2. I understand under the heading Location, you have stated we can work remotely. We are based in London and see you have an office in London too. Would it be possible to arrange meetings at the London office? Could you confirm if we need to go to Manchester for any part of the work or for any of the meetings?
Hi, thank you for submitting a question. We have stated that we have no preference over location as the majority of the work will take place online. As most of the project team are based in Manchester we would expect suppliers to be able to, when required, travel to the Manchester office. However and as you have pointed out we do have an office in London so some of the meetings/workshops may take place in the London Office.
3. Could you clarify work location: in one part of the brief it says "No specific location, eg they can work remotely", and later says "The project team are based in Manchester and as such the majority of the work will take place here". Could you clarify please?
Hi, thank you for submitting a question and happy to clarify. As most of the work will take place online, we have no real preference over where a supplier should be located. As the majority of the project team internally are based in Manchester we would expect the supplier to be able to travel to our Manchester Office as and when required, and if needed travel to our London Office.
4. Can you please advise whether you intend to replace the CMS?
Hi, thank you for your question. We can confirm we are open to suggestions in regards to the CMS for the new website.
5. Please could you advise the process you plan on taking, following the short listing of potential suppliers?
Hi, thank you for your question. As outlined in the assessment methods section above, we would expect the three shortlisted suppliers to produce a written proposal, provide details of their work history and any references and then present their approach to a panel in our Manchester office. We will endeavour to let stakeholders know the date for the presentation day by Monday 23 January 2017 and we will let the three shortlisted suppliers know further details shortly after the closing date.
6. Could you please confirm £60,000 is the total budget for both Alpha and Beta? - Why are you considering changing suppliers from Discovery to the Alpha/Beta phases?
Yes I can confirm that £60,000 is the total budget for both Alpha and Beta. The discovery phase was completed internally building on the research obtained by our existing supplier in Feb 2015 to coincide with an update on our websites homepage. As we are aware some of the research will need to be updated, we have recently launched a survey on our website ( to allow us, with the support of a supplier, to understand more about our users and what their needs and requirements are for the new website.
7. Can you share the results of the Discovery Phase? (Or will this form part of the webinar?)
We will be sharing the Discovery phase findings with suppliers on Friday 20 January. This will allow potential suppliers to start to think about how they would approach the project should they be one of the three selected suppliers chosen to attend our presentation day in our Manchester office (details to follow).
8. After the website has launched you need support. Is office hours second line support sufficient or do you need 24/7 support?
Thank you for your question. Once the website is ready to be launched we will need to resubmit a digital spend control form to the Department of Health to find a supplier to provide us with hosting and maintenance support therefore at this stage we are unable to comment on the commitment needed as, for the purpose of this procurement exercise we are looking for a supplier to support us with the Alpha and Beta phase of delivery only.
9. Who lead the discovery?
The discovery phase was completed internally, building on some research obtained by our existing supplier in Feb 2015 to coincide with an update on our website’s homepage. We know some of the research will need to be updated; we have recently launched a survey on our website ( to allow us, with the support of a supplier, to understand more about our users and what their needs and requirements are for the new website.
10. What is leading to frequent redevelopments? Do issues relate mainly to platform or functionality?
The website has until now followed a traditional cycle of large scale redevelopment followed by static decline until another redevelopment becomes necessary. Issues relate to both platform and functionality to a certain extent, but we are also working to change the internal culture so that this redevelopment is seen as the start of a continuous improvement process rather than the end.
11. Customisation and design are terms that get used differently in different disciplines. Can we assume that the terms mean: Customisation - specifying functionality changes specific to HRA that will later be coded into the CMS by integrators? Design - deciding upon the functioning of the site, and not the visual design, per se.
Yes that is correct, we would like our new website to be functionality lead rather than design led therefore for this project, both customisation and design, as you have defined them are key.
12. Can we assume that there is some sort of boundary around the discovery results that allows the chosen supplier to proceed with confidence, given that the proposal is a fixed bid?
We would expect our chosen supplier to use their knowledge and experience to help inform and shape the development of the project – this will probably include some further refining and prioritising of elements of the discovery results.
13. Can you be more precise about what you mean by 'future proof'
When we make reference to the website being ‘future proof’ what we mean is we would like to find a CMS system that will allow us to be flexible and implement new functionality and design without the need to enter into another costly full-scale redevelopment in the future.
14. Do you have any current analytics on the site that you can share?
Our discovery phase overview will be shared with potential suppliers on Friday 20 January. Within the findings you will be able to access some high level analytics that relate to user behaviour such as the top 10 most visited pages, as well as information on the preferred platforms and devices. The included analytics cover the period from December 2015 to December 2016.
15. Are you able to give a summary of the intranet functionality? If possible, could we have access to a sandbox copy?
The intranet is not in scope for this project and there are no dependencies.
16. Do you have any library of visual resources (eg photography) that can be used?
We have access to stock images and the NHS photo library but we would expect our new website will be driven more by content such as GOV.UK as opposed to imagery. We will further explore this in line with user feedback.
17. Do you have any in-house skills for extending site etc.
No we currently don't have access to this skill set internally.
18. Within our response, would you be looking for our recommended CMS or would you be looking to select the CMS once the project has started?
We would expect the supplier to recommend and justify their CMS selection.
19. Could you clarify what you mean by technical solution? It seems that you want a content strategy supplier but this seems to point to a web developer. Does this mean the technical direction that a content strategist would be expected to provide, to work collaboratively with web/software developers?
We are looking for a supplier to provide the CMS application and associated functionality, and also to assist us and help us build on our content strategy and provide content-related support, advice and solutions.
20. Are you planning any break in schedule between alpha and beta phases?
No, but we want to have the flexibility to review the contract at this stage to ensure it is working for both parties.
21. Any particular issues with Wordpress? Can you please highlight the main issues you are facing with the current CMS? The current WP platform is more than capable of most things you have outlined is the challenge training / limited development / something else?
As mentioned above, we are open to suggestions when it comes to choosing a CMS for the system. Although we haven’t experienced any real issues with using Wordpress we feel that the system isn’t providing us with all that we are looking for.
22. Will you be going through GDS alpha assessment? GDS assessment suggests GOV.UK styling - is this required or is this element exempt? Also, could you please confirm whether or not you need to follow GOV.UK style guidelines as part of the GDS assessment?
We will need to go through GDS assessment but we believe the assessment will be required at the end of the BETA phase. We will be following principles of the GOV.UK style guide as we believe this is standard best practice for websites but this will be developed in line with user needs. In regards to styling as we are an NHS organisation we will have to follow the visual guidelines of the NHS as opposed to GOV.UK - you can find more information about this here:
23. What level of comfort would you say your team has with regard to Agile? Related to that would you take part in stand-ups and retrospectives? Could stand-ups be remote or do they need to be physical?
We are comfortable with utilising agile methodologies and principles within the project team. The organisation as a whole is used to more traditional approaches to project management which will need to be taken into consideration. When it comes to stand-ups and retrospectives we would expect to take part in sessions such as this and we are more than happy for these to be hosted remotely.
24. Do you have a requirement for any integrations? If so could you specify? Do you require migration of any content? Integrations such as between CMS and CRM.
There are a small number of applications that link closely to the website, for example through an API. We plan to do content migration ourselves.
25. Where do you plan to deploy the application - will it be in house or external?
We don’t have the facility to host internally – but hosting and support will be dealt with under a separate arrangement.
26. How semantically structured is the content, and how will this affect the work anticipated from the supplier?
Not very: we would like support from the supplier to devise a suitable semantic structure.
27. Do you envisage that the HRA will do the population of content in the CMS?
Yes we will be responsible for content migration.
28. You mentioned Google Hangouts, is HRA on Google Apps?
The HRA currently don’t have access to Google Apps and this is something that, if decided, would fall out of scope for this project unless related to a particular user need.
29. You say the beta phase is included in the budget but that the hosting arrangement is not known - does the £60k budget include any hosting?
The £60,000 does not include hosting or maintenance. Once the website is ready to be launched we will carry out a separate procurement to find a supplier to provide us with hosting and maintenance support.
30. What are the key project milestones?
We are looking to develop a definitive timeline with the chosen supplier. We currently have no key project milestones in place however we would like to deliver as much of the project as possible within this financial year.
31. How many responses/suppliers do you expect/have invited?
As we haven’t specifically invited anyone to tender for this project we don’t have a figure for how many responses or suppliers we will receive applications from. We will look to shortlist three suppliers to move forward to the evaluation stage.
32. Do you have any requirements on technologies to be used for the application?
No – we would expect the supplier to recommend and justify an appropriate technology(ies).
33. The terms you use: "development", "build a platform", "support and maintenance" and "web templates and services" can mean two different things. Did you mean web programming skills (writing code and scripts) or content strategy skills (which, in turn inform the technologists on technical implementation)?
We are looking for a supplier to support us with all of our requirements which does include development of both the physical website and content and we would expect our chosen supplier to be able to support us with this.
34. Are there any specific security concerns outside the usual ones re protecting the content?
The site does not hold or process personal or patient data so we don’t have any additional requirements over and above standard data protection ones.
35. Does the website currently have any more complex functionality that you could talk us through or is it mainly static content?
As our website interfaces with systems that underpin content carried on the website, integration of these elements will be in scope. For example, our current website interfaces with the HRA Assessment Review Portal (HARP) to update research summaries ( on a daily basis via an API.
36. So does the research summary content reside outside the CMS currently, are you saying that might change in the new system?
Sorry for any confusion – yes they reside outside the CMS and no, the research summaries won't ever be brought into the system - we just need to make sure that the new CMS would be able to interface with the HARP system and display it in a searchable and appropriate format.
37. Does the site use any taxonomies? So no data exchange between these systems, just links as part of the user journey? Just to clarify, I mean for instance categorising content in a way that can be filtered through search etc.
There are no taxonomies used currently on the site beyond tags for news / blog / other content. This is something we would like to explore.
38. The requirements that come out of the discovery project that we will see - will you expect us to suggest which ones we will be able to meet within our proposed solution? Which would set the scope of the project. Or, given that you would like to work agile, do you see this scope changing over the project as things are prioritised?
I think the scope for the project will change. I think as we are still speaking to our stakeholders to ensure we build a website that is fit for purpose now and in the future, the scope for the project might change and we are open to this.
39. How are you comfortable managing change throughout the project? As we are considering fixed cost and fixed scope, would this be via change control to the scope or would you be looking for a potential capped time and materials contract?
We have got some fairly clear ideas about what we want from the site and we believe the discovery findings allude to this but we would like to be flexible to making changes to this as we go through development.
40. Will you be sharing the slides from today's Q&A webinar?
Yes, you can access the slides from the Q&A webinar here:
41. Will you be publishing your discovery findings - showcasing what you know so far?
Yes, as promised you can access the discovery findings here: This will allow potential suppliers to start to think about how they would approach the project should they be one of the three selected suppliers chosen to attend our presentation day in our Manchester office (details to follow).
42. Are you open to partnership bids (both partners are on the Digital Outcomes Framework)?
Yes we are.
43. What is your view on a joint proposal from two Digital Outcomes suppliers?
The HRA is wanting to source the most economically advantageous solution, a joint proposal will be evaluated under the same criteria as other proposals.
44. When and where will the presentation day take place?
The presentation day will take place on Wednesday 1 February in our Manchester Office ( We will be inviting the three shortlisted suppliers to spend one hour (including Q&A session) presenting their approach to a panel of four. As we need to progress with the project with some speed, we will endeavour to inform suppliers on Monday 30 January, whether they have been shortlisted to proceed to the evaluation stage or whether they have been unsuccessful. Sorry for the tight turn around but we hope the information provided to date will enable a proposal to be produced in time.
45. I have made an attempt to start the application process to tender for this work, only to find we have hit a technicality with – I have contacted them to resolve this issue, but I am really keen to get the response to you in good time. We are clicking “start application” only to receive a message reading: “You can’t apply for this opportunity because you’re not a Digital Outcomes and Specialists supplier.” Which isn't the case. If possible, is there any other way we can respond to your tender?
If you are a Digital Outcomes and Specialists supplier and you are experiencing issues applying to tender for this work please can we ask you to send your submission to As today is the closing date for applications we will need to receive this by midnight tonight for you to be considered. If your application is received after this period we will not be able to count your submission.

We would also advise following this up directly with the Digital Marketplace team (