This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Thursday 2 July 2020
Department for Education

DfE Adult Skills Pipeline Capability Contract

10 Incomplete applications

9 SME, 1 large

22 Completed applications

16 SME, 6 large

Important dates

Published
Thursday 18 June 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 25 June 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 2 July 2020 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Summary of the work
To work with the DfE to deliver world-class products/services from discovery to live for adults to get the skills they need to succeed in a changing labour market.
There may be a requirement to support the further development of existing products to support the Covid19 response.
Latest start date
Tuesday 1 September 2020
Expected contract length
Up to 2 years with the option to extend for 6 months.
Location
North West England
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
Budget approval is subject to Cabinet Office spending controls, service assessments and DfE governance. A pipeline of activity is foreseen over the next 24 months - based on the scope being considered the budget could range up to £3.5m consisting of multiple SOWs, but that scope could expand or contract. DfE does not commit to any minimum or maximum spend at this point.

Supplier pricing proposals must be flexible enough to enable different rates for different locations. Rate cards will be static for the life of the contract. Standard Framework and Call Off Terms and Conditions apply.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Government has an ambitious adult skills agenda and is looking to develop products and services that support adults to upskill and reskill.

Skills interventions need to respond to short and long term changes in the labour market, from things like long term productivity challenges to the very immediate response to Covid-19.

To supplement our existing capability, we are looking for an experienced Supplier to work with us on research and development of a number of related products and services, in line with the government service standard.

Suppliers will need to collaborate with policy professionals and work alongside other digital partner teams which are developing and delivering complementary products and services.

Suppliers must provide sufficient guarantees to meet the requirements of GDPR in line with Procurement Policy Note 03/17 Changes to Data Protection Legislation & General Data Protection Regulations.
Problem to be solved
DfE needs a Supplier that can deliver policy outcomes through meeting user needs and the government service standard. Skills are an important driver of productivity and given longer-term trends towards higher employment levels we need to address the stock of skills in the workforce. That involves, for example, enabling individuals and organisations to understand skills needs; make choices about how to fill them; develop and deliver quality learning opportunities; application of skills - understanding user needs in relation to this, and developing a coherent and well understood offer to respond. Critical to this is making sure the incentives line up across the system: for individuals; firms and providers. We are developing solutions based on the best available evidence, and taking a test and learn approach to finding solutions to this challenge.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Products and services to support a number of user groups may include:
Adults
Employers (including SMEs)
Employees and recently unemployed
Potential employees
DfE staff
Providers
For example:
As an employee in an occupation vulnerable to significant change, I need to….
…. understand what else I could do, so that I can maintain secure employment.
….understand how to get a better job, with minimal disruption to my life so that I can take the necessary steps.
….understand what training and support is available to me so that I can secure a better job.
….access advice and support flexibly so that I can fit it around my life.

As an employer with a vacancy, I need to find quality candidates so that I can keep my organisation running smoothly.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
An evidence review has been conducted to inform the policy scope of the National Skills Fund; including the design problem and the cohort. We have conducted extensive user research with employed adults and employers relating to skills and training, although this was in a different economic environment and with a somewhat different user group, so will need updating. To date we have not completed formally assessed discovery or alpha phases.
Existing team
The Programme operates using mixed supplier/client Delivery Teams and the Department typically provides a Product Owner for each product line.
There will be other Service Delivery Teams, working on associated product lines as part of the wider programme, with whom the successful supplier will need to collaborate.
There is also a senior programme level service leadership team, experienced in developing and delivering services using agile methodologies.
Contract and Vendor Management will form a key part of governance and suppliers will be expected to co-operate in a manner that fosters healthy working relationships and quality delivery.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
DfE Manchester and London co-located with Policy teams, with other locations in England possible over the lifetime of the contract. The primary base will be detailed in each Statement of Work (SOW).
It will also be necessary to engage and collaborate with colleagues in other DfE locations and it is a requirement for user research and testing to take place in a number of different locations across England. Remote working is likely in the immediate term due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Working arrangements
We are looking for a Supplier to complement and further develop our in house agile capability in roles including; product and delivery management, user-centred design, user research and business analysis.The Team or individual contractors engaged through this contract will be required to invest time in knowledge sharing and coaching to increase DfE staff capability and knowledge transfer will be a requirement for each work package. The Supplier must operate using agile methodologies to rapidly deliver user-centred products and services which meet policy intent.
Security clearance
Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) clearance is required for all team members. This will need to be in place for the contract start date. The supplier will also need to be compliant with DfE's Departmental Security Standards.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
DfE reserves the right to utilise any DOS framework payment terms at the point of issue of each SOW. Primary location in each SOW will not attract expenses. Any travel to other locations must be pre-agreed and adhere to DfE Travel and Subsistence Policy.
The use of hyphens or slashes should not be used as a method to reduce wordcount. In reviewing proposals, we will refer to the Plain English Campaign guidance http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/using-hyphens.html on the appropriate use of a hyphen and may choose to remove if we feel that a deliberate attempt to reduce wordcount is being made.

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
  • Clear evidence of planning and delivering user-centred services including digital services using agile development approaches and continuous delivery techniques.
  • Clear evidence of an effective approach to identifying and managing risks, issues and dependencies within an agile product team to ensure quality and timely delivery.
  • Experience of user journey mapping and service design; delivering evidenced, prioritised user stories.
  • Ability and capacity to be able to deploy multiple digital teams/roles (disco,alpha,beta) in DfE locations specifically in Manchester and London.
  • Experience in conducting user research including working remotely to inform the design and developing of working digital services.
  • Evidence, drawing on experience, of being able to provide suitably skilled, flexible teams, operating in a mixed supplier/client setting across multiple product lines.
  • Experience of successfully working with in-house teams and other stakeholders with limited agile experience and sharing knowledge, coaching, mentoring and cross-skilling to develop in-house team capabilities.
  • Experience of developing appropriate technical architecture to deliver high quality agile services.
  • Evidence of successful delivery of digital projects to quality, in time and on budget.
  • Experience of designing assisted digital support.
  • Experience of collaborating with policy professionals to deliver services/projects that meet strategic intent.
  • Awareness of GDS service assessments.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Evidence of successfull delivery of high value (£1m+) agile projects.
  • Ability to present and communicate project update/outcomes to a variety of stakeholders including those with low technical expertise.
  • Experience with Ruby on Rails, Posgresql, Redis and familiarity of Microsoft Azure cloud environment in a project delivery setting.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
5
Proposal criteria
  • Experience of agile technologies and practices with specific focus on Ruby on Rails, Posgresql, and Redis in a project delivery setting, and familiarity with Microsoft Azure cloud environment.
  • Evidence of a solid understanding of agile, iterative, user-centred design and delivery and how this will be applied to deliver products/services within required timescales.
  • Demonstrate understanding/ability to deliver products/services to government service standards or equivalent.
  • Ability to provide suitably skilled resource and scale up to full team(s), flex resource or pause, when required, working across multiple product lines.
  • Demonstrable experience of working alongside clients in co-located, integrated teams.
  • Demonstrate how you would prioritise mulitiple concurrent SOW demands to ensure that there is no delay to delivery timelines in this contract.
  • Evidence of a transparent financial structure and fair pricing for the service, showing how value for money will be achieved for the duration of the contract.
  • Demonstrate a clear approach to managing risk to ensure that capability requirements can be met as required so that delivery is not impacted.
  • Drawing on your experience and capabilities, how you would ensure that your activities can take place remotely without any reduction in effectiveness in light of COVID-19.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate your approach to knowledge and skills transfer.
  • Experience of working with a number of key stakeholders and delivery teams, adapting agile ways of working to meet the needs of a dispersed team, without reduction in efficiency.
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

60%

Cultural fit

10%

Price

30%

Questions asked by suppliers

1. Hello, can you confirm who will be on the panel assessing the submissions please?
The evaluation panel will comprise of officials from DfE including
A senior delivery manager, a lead user researcher, a technical architect and the head of an enabling function.
2. Hello, is there a current incumbent supplying?
For this opportunity we anticipate the bulk of the requirements to be new, for example in relation to the development of the ‘National Skills Fund’ (NSF) and there is no incumbent supplier for NSF work
Note however that:
1.We will carry out some discovery/alpha work over the summer for which we will be supported from an existing Transformation & Digital contract and this work will relate to the NSF.
2.We have existing products which this contract may support. We have no confirmed plans at present where this might be the case.
3. To Note:
Procurement indicative timelines:
Timelines could be subject to change
Stage 1 opportunity close 2 July 2020
Stage 1 evaluation from 3 July 2020
Stage 1 suppliers notified w/c 20 July 2020
ITT issued to stage 2 shortlisted suppliers w/c 20 July 2020
Stage 2 application close 5 August
Stage 2 supplier presentations (remote) w/c 10 August 2020
Preferred supplier identified w/c 17 August
Contract start date 1 September
4. For requirements that specify multiple tools/technologies (e.g. requirement 15), are suppliers permitted to reference more than one example of work?
Suppliers can use more than one example in their responses provided they remain within the 100 word limit.
5. Can you say more about your 'capability requirements' at this stage? (as mentioned in "Demonstrate a clear approach to managing risk to ensure that capability requirements can be met as required so that delivery is not impacted.") Do you have specific SLAs to be met for example?
We expect the supplier to provide us with a resource profile dependent on the requirement at Statement of Works stage. Specific SLA’s will be provided as part of the Statement of Work and suppliers are required to successfully demonstrate that delivery timelines will not be impacted for individual Statement of Work/agile phase/sprint and manage risk .
Further details will be provided at Stage 2 of this process to shortlisted suppliers.
6. Given the length of the contract can you confirm that team members need not be fully specified in advance of the contract and that instead team members must be names and BPSS clearance will be needed prior to commencement of a specific SoW? (Note – "Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) clearance is required for all team members. This will need to be in place for the contract start date.")
We expect that team members will be identified for each SOW issued during the course of the contract. We expect those named individuals to have BPSS security clearance when they start work.
7. A) Can you please confirm whether responses using case studies from outside of the UK will be marked less favorably than case studies from within the UK? Further, can you please confirm whether private sector case studies will be marked less favorably than public sector case studies?

B) Are you able to indicate what the likely split of roles between London and Manchester will be?
A) Suppliers can provide any examples that they feel demonstrates evidence in response to the proposal criteria. All responses will be evaluated in a fair open and transparent way.

B) It is likely that the majority of teams will be based in Manchester, however in the immediate and medium-term teams are likely to be working remotely.
8. Are DfE able to share any KPIs for lead times on commencement of work that suppliers will be expected to adhere to?
We anticipate work to commence in September. We expect the supplier to provide us with a resource profile dependent on the requirement at Statement of Works stage. Specific SLA’s will be provided as part of the Statement of Work and suppliers are required to successfully demonstrate that delivery timelines will not be impacted for individual Statement of Work/agile phase/sprint and manage risk.
9. (1) Can you clarify what is meant by appropriate technical architecture in relation to question 8 ("Experience of developing appropriate technical architecture to deliver high quality agile services."); is this within the bounds of a client's choice of technology to deliver agile services?
To be able to show both the data and user journeys involved. A clear and flexible data architecture. Demonstrate capability in modern engineering techniques, consideration of suitable SaaS and PaaS services. What elements of architecture they would use to support Agile development, CI/CD and other change management processes. We would expect to see high level views/s of the solution in contextual and logical views as well as physical.
10. Can you tell us the supplier(s) who will be working on Discovery and Alpha phases over the summer?

Can you clarify whether question 13 ("Evidence of successfull delivery of high value (£1m+) agile projects.") is referring to the delivery of £1m+ projects in general or specific terms?
We will utilise existing digital contracts over the summer, the detail of which is not yet finalised so we are unable to share supplier information at this time.

We would like to see evidence of where you have successfully delivered a high value (£1m+) end to end project in time and on budget. This could be any phase or combination of phases in an agile delivery environment.
11. Is Question 14 ("Ability to present and communicate project update/outcomes to a variety of stakeholders including those with low technical expertise.") referring to internal or external stakeholders?

Question 6 ("Evidence, drawing on experience, of being able to provide suitably skilled, flexible teams, operating in a mixed supplier/client setting across multiple product lines") refers to working in a mixed supplier/client setting. Are you referring to DfE's suppliers for these programmes (e.g. training providers, CIAG providers) or to the digital suppliers developing the products/services? What do you mean by mixed client setting?
This could be stakeholders inside or outside of DfE and might include for example: officials, including senior decision makers, from DfE and other Government Departments; representatives of assurance bodies such as the Infrastructure and Projects Authority; and/or adult learning sector representatives.

We principally refer to the digital supplier teams working in blended team arrangements with DfE Civil Servants to develop and deliver products/services.

It is also feasible there could be other suppliers working on other products and services within the programme with whom this supplier will need to engage.
12. What level of technical resources do you require? Hands on or more architectural/delivery orientated, for example do you need Ruby Developers, if so, how many years of experience?
We anticipate that a range of technical skills will be required over the term of the contract to work with us on research, development and delivery of a number of related products and services. Outcomes will be articulated in each SOW at the point of issue, and over the lifetime of the contract are likely to require architectural and delivery expertise, as well as hands-on developers.
We expect the supplier to deploy contractors that are suitably experienced in their field.
13. What would be the best way of demonstrating "Ability and capacity to be able to deploy multiple digital teams/roles (disco,alpha,beta) in DfE locations specifically in Manchester and London."
Would it preferable to highlight previous projects, or discuss our current talent pool?
We would expect to you to evidence your ability to deploy multiple teams/roles with the right skills and experience to deliver a number of complimentary products and services and possibly in different locations at the same time.
A maximum of 2-3 SOWs in parallel, the majority of teams in Manchester.
To note - in the immediate and medium term we anticipate all teams will be working remotely.
It is ultimately a matter for you to decide how best to evidence your suitability. It is possible that relevant previous experience and/or a discussion of your current talent pool would be useful.
14. Similarly, how should we demonstrate "Evidence, drawing on experience, of being able to provide suitably skilled, flexible teams, operating in a mixed supplier/client setting across multiple product lines."?
We principally refer to the digital supplier teams working in blended team arrangements with DfE Civil Servants to develop and deliver products/services. It is also feasible there could be other suppliers working on other products and services within the programme with whom this supplier will need to engage.
15. Does "designing assisted digital support" refer to designing systems that help a user complete a digital process without external human intervention?
From the GDS service manual: You must make sure everyone who needs your service can use it. Sometimes users will need help to use your service online. This is known as ‘assisted digital support’.

There is more information in the GDS service manual under Assisted digital support:an introduction