Department for Education

Apprenticeship Service agile development - User-centred design, development, architecture & testing

Incomplete applications

21
Incomplete applications
18 SME, 3 large

Completed applications

31
Completed applications
25 SME, 6 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Wednesday 22 April 2020
Deadline for asking questions Wednesday 29 April 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Wednesday 6 May 2020 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Overview
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work We require agile delivery services to support the development of GDS compliant digital services for apprenticeship service users to support the continued development of the service.
Latest start date Monday 1 June 2020
Expected contract length 2 Years
Location West Midlands
Organisation the work is for Department for Education
Budget range These capability services are to be delivered over a contract period of 2 years and with an indicative contract value of approximately £4,000,000 – £5,000,000 for the full 2-year service delivery.

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done The Government has committed to increasing the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in England. To support the creation of an employer-led system and allow employers to take control of funding for apprenticeships we have introduced the apprenticeship service. The apprenticeship service provides a wide range of functions for employers, including: enabling them to manage their apprenticeship funding, to select a suitable apprenticeship standard or framework, choose a suitable provider to deliver apprenticeship training, provide digital certification and will soon enable them to be able to find an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). we continue to add new capability to the apprenticeship service to meet user needs and in line with apprenticeship programme objectives
Problem to be solved During 2020-21 volumes of employers on the service will scale significantly as those 150,000+ employers that don’t pay the levy will transition to an employer led-model. High-level user needs identified are:

Making the service easy to use – so that smaller employers can meet their business needs. Scaling the apprenticeship service so that this holds true at significant volumes.
Decision–making and personalisation – giving users the right information at the right time through the right channel that suits their situation and that will help them decide if, and which apprenticeships are best for their business.
Surface unmet demand to the marketplace – ensuring suppliers have visibility of real-time employer demand and can explore opportunities to fill gaps and meet employers skills needs.
Maturing the apprenticeship service - building out our continuous improvement function with focus on simplifying processes to remove burden, ensuring we maintain service availability & reliability as we scale the volume of users and increasing performance & efficiency

We will also be adding new capabilities that enable EPAOs to receive payment direct from government and capabilities that improve quality of the apprentices experience.
Who the users are and what they need to do Our users are both external (employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and apprentices) and government, for example:
As a student I need to easily access impartial information to understand and access apprenticeships, and to receive timely information on how I progress with my apprenticeship.
As a non-levy employer I need to understand the funding for hiring an apprentice, find and recruit the right apprentice
As a training provider I need to understand how I receive funding for apprenticeships from government
As an end-point assessment organisation I need to understand the registration process for operating in the marketplace
As ESFA I need to oversee effective delivery of Apprenticeships, including sharing information with stakeholders, directly managing the issue of certificates.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done The minimum viable AS was introduced in 2017 and we continue to develop significantly capability as we move towards the agreed vision for the service whereby all employers take greater control of apprenticeship funding through their AS account to drive up quality in the market place. Since that time we have continued to add new capabilities to the service as we build out toward our 2020 vision for great end to end experiences for our users. These capabilities are connected through personalised user-outcome, AI based, real time data model.
Existing team Our build-test-run delivery model is underpinned by an agile at scale build capability. Existing teams are comprised of multi-disciplinary agile delivery skills. These teams are involved in service development for providing brand new digital services, going through the standard GDS phases. Typical team size is up to 10 with a skills mix such as product/service managers, delivery managers, business analysts, user research and design professionals, developers and testers. Teams are co-located in Coventry and comprise of managed service suppliers and permanent staff.
Current phase Not applicable

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place Primary location will be ESFA Cheylesmore House, Coventry. Occasional travel to the DfE/ESFA site in London along with travel across England for user research may be required
Working arrangements This will be a 5 day per week commitment and detailed working arrangements, including team location, size and make-up, will be contained within each statement of work. Day to day delivery will be governed by standard agile delivery techniques. These could be either a Kanban or a scrum approach (depending on the work) but the standard agile ceremonies appropriate to those will be undertaken. These will be monitored by the Delivery Manager and the Product Owner will be responsible for prioritising backlogs in refinement sessions.
Security clearance Personnel from the Service provider need to have a BPSS check.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions Expenses must be pre-agreed and comply with DfE Travel and Subsistence (T&S) Policy. Any expenses shall be submitted in line with DfE standard T&S policy. Primary work location stated in SoW will not attract expenses. No parking is available on site.

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
  • Within last two-years have experience in successfully designing and delivering end-to-end digital products in government, demonstrated through passing Government Digital Service(GDS) assessments at every stage of GDS agile delivery framework
  • Within last two-years have experience in successfully implementing User Centred Design Services(User Research/Service Design/ Content Design/Interaction Design/Business Analysis) demonstrated through successful project-delivery and achievement of key success measures for projects
  • Evidence of demonstrable experience within the last two years in working on complex, multi-stakeholder programmes (both internal and external)
  • Proven experience using range of agile tools/techniques, including: scrum, kanban, scrum of scrums, stand ups, sprint reviews, sprint refinement, sprint planning. Use of tools such as Jira, Confluence, Github, Trello.
  • Proven experience of delivering agile methodology alongside colleagues from internal policy teams - who are less familiar with agile delivery.
  • Proven experience of supporting customers to build in-house capabilities and ensure effective knowledge management and transfer
  • Experience within the last two years in scalable cloud-based web applications (preferably Microsoft Azure), detailed knowledge of the C#,.NET,ASP.NET MVC programming languages and building front-end web applications (HTML/CSS/JS)
  • Evidence within the last two years of experience in architecture services and ensuring products are robust, scalable, open and secure.
  • Experience of producing clear and concise test documentation: Test plans; Test scripts; Test reports; and Defect logs and executing test scripts and raise defects.
  • Experience delivering application/infrastructure vulnerability and penetration testing, ensuring secure coding baked in to web applications/architecture for products developed and in development and building automated testing to align with continuous assurance.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Within the last two years experience of design, development and delivery of multi-strand digital programmes within the public sector
  • Experience of delivering services similar to our priority areas
  • Experience of passing multiple GDS service assessments within complex digital programmes across government

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 4
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstrate experience in end-to-end delivery of digital products from discovery through to live within Public Sector
  • Demonstrate ability to deliver digital products/services to government Digital Service (GDS) standard across the GDS agile delivery phases
  • Experience and methodology in approach to agile project using both Kanban and scrum
  • Demonstrable experience of working alongside clients that are typically unfamiliar with agile project management, in co-located, integrated teams
  • Demonstrate approach to knowledge and skills transfer to enable the transition of service delivery to the business
  • Technical competence in a wide range of relevant technologies and agile practices including business analysis, project management, research, design, development, architecture and testing
  • Ability to promptly mobilise expertise to scale up team and flex resource when needed and to respond to fluctuating requirements
  • Ability to demonstrate flexible use of resources across multiple streams of work to maximise efficiency
  • Value for money
  • Demonstrate understanding of the challenges of implementing user centred design in a multi-stakeholder government environment
Cultural fit criteria
  • Working with different suppliers and buyers staff in a collaborative way to deliver common goals
  • Participate in community of practice and demonstrate knowledge sharing
Payment approach Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

35%

Cultural fit

15%

Price

50%

Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Can you please clarify if you require the partner to deliver all of the design, development, architecture, and testing? Or is it possible to bid for this opportunity if just one of these is our specialism, for example just the testing? This contract will be awarded to a single supplier/consortium, the successful bid will need to evidence capability across design, development, architecture, and testing
2. Does the work require being onsite or remote working is also an option? (We mean post Covid situation). The primary location will be ESFA Cheylesmore House, Coventry. Teams are co-located in Coventry and comprise of managed service suppliers and permanent staff.
3. Are suppliers permitted to use multiple examples to answer the question? Suppliers are permitted to use the 100 word limit in any way which they feel best evidences their capability against the criteria.
4. How do you expect the pricing to be presented please (we have not decided to apply yet so cannot see the detail in the application), ie, is it rate carded; a fixed price (for what period) etc etc ? The way that we intend to compare supplier costs will be set out at the second stage evaluation. Assessment methods will be used to ensure both best price and value for money. We will request a rate card as part of the assessment method for shortlisted suppliers, which will be captured in the call off agreement.
5. Assuming a June start date – is the Dept prepared for induction/intros/ etc to be started as an off-site service until the resources can attend site, or would the start date be delayed until an on-site presence is possible ? We are planning for off-site introductions until the resource can attend on-site to meet the start date. We are currently using video call / collaborative software to enable teams to continue to work together.
6. Are bidders allowed to apply for only certain elements of the DfE's requirements do suppliers need to provide the complete end to end service? This contract will be awarded to a single supplier/consortium, the successful bid will need to provide the complete end to end service
7. Can you confirm what are your priority areas?

*Answered in 2 parts 1/2*
During 2020-21 volumes of employers on the service will scale significantly as those 150,000+ employers that don’t pay the levy will transition to an employer led-model. High-level user needs identified are:

Making the service easy to use – so that smaller employers can meet their business needs. Scaling the apprenticeship service so that this holds true at significant volumes.
Decision–making and personalisation – giving users the right information at the right time through the right channel that suits their situation and that will help them decide if, and which apprenticeships are best for their business.
8. Can you confirm what are your priority areas?

*Answered in 2 parts 2/2*
Surface unmet demand to the marketplace – ensuring suppliers have visibility of real-time employer demand and can explore opportunities to fill gaps and meet employers skills needs.
Maturing the apprenticeship service - building out our continuous improvement function with focus on simplifying processes to remove burden, ensuring we maintain service availability & reliability as we scale the volume of users and increasing performance & efficiency

We will also be adding new capabilities that enable EPAOs to receive payment direct from government and capabilities that improve quality of the apprentices experience.
9. why is there a preference for microsoft tech stack? Are you open for using open source tools hosted in your preferred provider Our service is currently uses the Microsoft Stack and this is not something that we are looking to move away from.
We will use the most appropriate solution for each task so we are happy to use open source tools if they are suitable for a specific task.
10. Do you believe this is an “SME friendly” opportunity?
Specifically the opportunity has a budget of £4M-£5M over two years. We are a 100-person SME with a turnover of £8M.
Would you see our small size as a risk-factor to delivery that we need to mitigate? Do you have a minimum turnover in mind for a supplier?
The value of the contract is indicative to volume of work which will be put through it. The ability to manage these volumes must be evidenced throughout procurement processes.

The proposal criteria for shortlisted suppliers outlines elements such as "Ability to promptly mobilise expertise to scale up team and flex resource when needed and to respond to fluctuating requirements" This will need to be evidenced on scale required for this contract.

Along with this, financial checks will be carried out on shortlisted suppliers aswell as a risk assessment. There is no set cut off point in terms of minimum turnover.
11. We note the unlimited indemnity (clause 34.2) in respect of losses incurred if the Supplier breaches Clause 14 and any Data Protection Legislation. However as market trends show that customers are not asking for unlimited liability and indeed the guidance from Cabinet Office to all public bodies is to cap data protection breaches to be commensurate with the value of the contract, can you confirm if you are willing to consider a separate liability cap in principle. Particulars can be discussed should we be down selected? There will be a requirement to access high volumes of personal identifiable information data held within our environments. As a result all personnel with direct unsupervised access are required to hold or be able to achieve SC clearance. DfE's’s standard position in respect of Personal Data or GDPR is to require the Supplier to indemnify DfE, without limit, against all losses, fines and/or expenses arising in connection with any breach on the part of the Supplier (or Sub-Processor) of any relevant obligations. This encompasses both GDPR regulatory fines and other potential litigation and charges arising from breaches of personal data.
12. Re. the question about working alongside "internal policy teams" who are less familiar with agile processes, is it valid to evidence working with other similar internal staff who are less familiar with agile even if they are not specifically policy team staff? We are looking for an example of how you can work with others who are less familiar of agile processes and happy to receive examples which demonstrate this.
13. Who will be assessing the applications? Applications will be scored by a panel of 3 individuals who work for the Department of Education with both appropriate technical knowledge, and an in-depth knowledge the Apprenticeship Service
14. Will the work location always be a DfE location, or could it be the supplier's premises for some SOW's? The primary location will be ESFA Cheylesmore House, Coventry. Teams are co-located in Coventry and comprise of managed service suppliers and permanent staff.
15. Who is the incumbent supplier please, and are they bidding? The incumbent supplier for this opportunity is Talent. This opportunity is open to any supplier on the DOS4 Framework to submit should they choose.
16. You mentioned priority areas, what are the key challenges of the next contract period? The priority areas are very reflective of the key challenges for the next period:

Scaling the service to a significantly increased user base with differing user needs whilst maintaining great overall user experience

Maturing the service so that we continuously improve existing functionality inline with user feedback and also ensure service reliability and availability as we scale

Further enhancing service features to new users / user groups - with focus on end-point assessment organisations and apprentices
17. Another similar opportunity was released prior to this https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/digital-outcomes-and-specialists/opportunities/12248 – are the two to be considered independently of each other? Both opportunities will both be supporting Apprenticeship services. Whilst some there is some cross over in capabilities required for delivery, there is varying essential criteria which we are looking for in each opportunity. They will be run independently of each other and will be assessed against the skills experience outlined. The current delivery model brings together managed services, potentially from different suppliers and permanent staff.
18. Would you consider a split onsite/nearshore team for this? No - The primary location will be ESFA Cheylesmore House, Coventry. We are planning for off-site introductions until the resource can attend on-site to meet the start date. We are currently using video call / collaborative software to enable teams to continue to work together.
19. Is there an existing incumbent supplier undertaking this or similar engagements at the DfE. Yes, Contracts Online is the current provider for this service
20. We note the unlimited indemnity (clause 34.2) in respect of losses incurred if the Supplier breaches Clause 14 and any Data Protection Legislation. However as market trends show that customers are not asking for unlimited liability and indeed the guidance from Cabinet Office to all public bodies is to cap data protection breaches to be commensurate with the value of the contract, can you confirm if you are willing to consider a separate liability cap in principle. Particulars can be discussed should we be down selected? There will be a requirement to access high volumes of personal identifiable information data held within our environments. As a result all personnel with direct unsupervised access are required to hold or be able to achieve SC clearance. DfE's’s standard position in respect of Personal Data or GDPR is to require the Supplier to indemnify DfE, without limit, against all losses, fines and/or expenses arising in connection with any breach on the part of the Supplier (or Sub-Processor) of any relevant obligations. This encompasses both GDPR regulatory fines and other potential litigation and charges arising from breaches of personal data.
21. Please could you confirm that this project is a separate opportunity to https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/digital-outcomes-and-specialists/opportunities/12248 as they are very similar? Both opportunities will both be supporting Apprenticeship services. Whilst some there is some cross over in capabilities required for delivery, there is varying essential criteria which we are looking for in each opportunity. They will be run independently of each other and will be assessed against the skills experience outlined. The current delivery model brings together managed services, potentially from different suppliers and permanent staff.
22. *Incorrect answer to Q.19*

19.Is there an existing incumbent supplier undertaking this or similar engagements at the DfE.
Talent is the incumbent supplier for this for this service