Awarded to We Are Snook Ltd

Start date: Tuesday 7 January 2020
Value: £54,887.50
Company size: SME
East Devon, Exeter, Teignbridge, Sedgemoor, Basildon, Brentwood, Strata and Ministry of Housing

Open Source Solution for a Revenue and Benefits System

10 Incomplete applications

10 SME, 0 large

15 Completed applications

14 SME, 1 large

Important dates

Thursday 21 November 2019
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 28 November 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 5 December 2019 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We are looking for a supplier to conduct user research across local authorities, and their customers, to establish the desirability and feasibility of creating an open source solution for a Revenues and Benefits computer system.
Latest start date
Friday 3 January 2020
Expected contract length
12 weeks
South West England
Organisation the work is for
East Devon, Exeter, Teignbridge, Sedgemoor, Basildon, Brentwood, Strata and Ministry of Housing
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
The work is being funded by MHCLG Local Digital Fund. The purpose of this funding is to fund digital projects that address common local service challenges in common reusable ways.
The full application for the project can be found here

Every council in the country requires an IT platform to enable customer data to be processed in a timely, accurate and efficient manner. Current suppliers are resistant to inter-operability and none have expressed an interest in developing a new core system. The cost of these systems and additional modules is considerable. This approach by suppliers hinders LAs ability to raise logic across different systems, raise and analyse data across other parts of the organisation, develop APIs, encourage automation and deliver cost savings. IT platforms are driving the process rather than the other way around and LAs have limited abilities to remodel and adapt their processes from a user perspective.
Problem to be solved
Hypothesis to test:
1. That an in house system can be developed and supported by LAs which is open source.
2. Current offer from suppliers is not meeting user needs
3. There are cross authority benefits from having an in house system that cannot be realised through the supplier market.

We would expect the consultant to produce:
● User Research Report - The primary users will be back office staff and interested third parties such as DWP, however in order to gain a holistic end to end view, end users should be a secondary user base.
● Business Case
● Recommendations Report (including considerations of moving to Alpha stage project) – clear breakdown of resources and timescales including a clear scope of the next phase and ideally phases up to delivery

A separate piece of work is being undertaken to determine whether an open source componentised IT solution is feasible and scalable and is outside the scope of this piece of work
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a Revs and Bens Manager, I need confidence in the process so that the services provided are legal, correct and accessible.

As a Revs and Bens Officer, I need to administer Revs and Bens data as quickly and accurately as possible so that I can meet my processing targets and minimise complaints from customers.

As a Resident, I need to know my data will be processed quickly, securely and accurately so I can pay my rent.

As a Business, I need to know my data will be processed quickly and accurately, and I will be billed in a timely manner so that I can prioritise my income and manage my accounts.

As a Chief Digital Officer, I need to break computer systems into digital components so that we can change the way we work and serve our local customers.

As the DWP, I need to ensure claims are processed accurately and in accordance with regulations and legislation.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Existing team
• Amanda Pujol-Project Lead-Head of Community services and Improvement, Teignbridge District Council
• Tracey Hooper-Revenue, Benefits and Customer Services Manager, Teignbridge District Council
• Libby Jarret, Service Lead Revenues and Benefits, East Devon Council
• Laura Fricker, Service Lead Revenues and Benefits and Customer Access, Exeter City Council
• Robert Manser, Shared Service Revenue and Benefits Manager, Basildon and Brentwood Council
• Paul Davidson, Chief Information Officer Sedgemoor District Council
• Kay O Flaherty, Business Improvement & Development Team Leader, Teignbridge District Council
• Laurence Whitlock, IT Director Strata
• David Sercombe, Head of Business Systems, Strata
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The supplier will be expected to conduct user research at each partner organisation site – Teignbridge, Exeter, East Devon, Brentwood, Basildon and Sedgemoor. All associated expenses, including travel costs, should be included in your costs and will not be reimbursed separately. Base organisation will be Teignbridge District Council, Newton Abbot.
Working arrangements
The supplier is expected to work alongside the Project Work plans will be agreed and monitored by the project lead. The supplier should demonstrate effective use of Agile Principles adopting the use of scrums and short and concise deliverables through sprints and will be expected to work in the open and use digital collaborative tools to engage with a wider audience.
Security clearance

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
This project must be delivered in line with the commitments the collaborating organisations have made as signatories to the MHCLG Digital Declaration

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
  • Be able to provide a multi-disciplinary team including project manager and experienced user researchers
  • Experience of designing and running similar projects and providing associated reports.
  • Experience of transferring skills to people with limited or no user research background.
  • Demonstrate experience of agile working principles, tools and techniques
  • Experience of running user research projects preferably within a digital space.
  • Evidence data analysis skills and presentation of findings.
  • Experience of identifying a wide variety users of digital services in public domain and securing their participation in user research.
  • Experience of delivering detailed business case and user research reports.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Understanding of Revenues and Benefits services
  • Experience of leading Discovery phase within the public sector
  • Knowledge and experience of delivering digital solutions to GDS service standard and design principles
  • Demonstrate understanding of the requirements necessary to move from Discovery into an Alpha stage project

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • The proposed approach and methodology
  • Team structure including experience and skills
  • Identification of risks and how to mitigate them
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as part of team with our organisations
  • Be transparent and collaborative
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members
  • Challenge the status quo
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Please can you advise the expected budget for this requirement?
There is a link to the bid that shows total funding awarded as that is in public domain although we will not use all of it for consultancy.
The funding we have agreed is £55k.
2. The Government Digital Service GDS guidance, the Technology Code of Practise and the Service Design manual are recommended. Open source is also recommended. What do you mean by open source? Further reading of the UK governments Open Source definition can be found here:
Many providers claim their product to be open-source, when in reality it does not comply with the above definitions. These "shareware" products can often only run on proprietary operating systems and databases, and the code may not be freely-available to all without restriction, or exclusively use fully open software constituents and protocols, leading to proprietary lock-in.
We are not looking for a software system to be built or coded . It is a user research project

The agile approach relates to the expected approach the consultant will take in managing the project
3. Open Source software has flourished and continues to contribute hugely to the world economy by having repositories of pre-built functional components. Your document is requiring Agile, which is fundamentally a software-development paradigm, this looks like you are expecting a system to be coded, rather than built.
Building-from-components for systems such as this will require some bespoke coding, but this should be at an absolute minimum and conform to genuine open-source precepts. An Agile approach is valuable even when most of the code is being assembled rather than written. Are you wedded to developing the system primarily in a bespoke fashion?
We are not looking for a software system to be built or coded . It is a user research project.

The agile approach relates to the expected approach the consultant will take in managing the project.
4. We would challenge building this at such a scale (multiple customer requirements). Software developments like this do not have a good track record. Our approach would be to build a system for a single authority, and tailor it to other organisations to roll it out. This would relieve a great deal of project complexity and cost. Would you consider this approach?
Also, you have published this on 21st of November 2019, and there already has been 1 bid submitted; does this bid have the status of a preferred supplier?
We are not looking for a software system to be built or coded . It is a user research project.

The agile approach relates to the expected approach the consultant will take in managing the project.

We do not know why there has been 1 bid submitted already but we can confirm that there are no preferred suppliers.
5. In systems-terms the project seems to be favouring a waterfall-type approach. You are also carrying out a separate feasibility-study as to whether open-source components can be used, which you state is “outside the scope of this work”. It is extremely difficult to imagine it couldn’t be done using open-source components.
You state that it is a user research project. User Research projects can encompass prototyping powerfully, are you rejecting this as an approach?
Given the above points, the current project is arguably not Agile.
The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government have funded our work as ‘Discovery’ project in their Local Digital programme. The emphasis this stage will be on user research, i.e. establishing if there is enthusiasm for this approach across other councils, and capturing their requirements and ambitions. We will commission a smaller piece of work to look at the technical feasibility of building and maintaining a solution. If MHCLG are convinced by the outputs of this Discovery phase, they may ask us to move onto an Alpha phase, which is the point where they would ask us to create prototypes.