Awarded to Methods Business and Digital Technology Limited

Start date: Friday 18 September 2020
Value: £7,998,458
Company size: SME
Education & Skills Funding Agency

Aggregated User Centred Design

8 Incomplete applications

6 SME, 2 large

28 Completed applications

17 SME, 11 large

Important dates

Wednesday 1 July 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 8 July 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 15 July 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
The ESFA has multiple user centred design requirements across a range of programme areas and requires a UCD specialist organisation to deliver against these requirements.
Latest start date
Monday 7 September 2020
Expected contract length
18 months
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Education & Skills Funding Agency
Budget range
Up to £9,500,000

About the work

Why the work is being done
The ESFA has committed to increasing the quality and quantity of a range of services in England. To support the delivery of these ambitions, we need to ensure our digital services are user-centred and meet user needs.
Problem to be solved
Support requirements from the ESFA Transformation Programme and the desire to achieve a digital first approach.

NCS - to enable a digital first approach to the careers advice process by improving the digital offer to refine the customer journey from start to end.

Apprenticeship Service - Ensuring the needs of users in the apprenticeship market place are met so that the quality and quantity of successful apprenticeships continues to increase.

Data Science - there will be a strong need to support the services following the Transformation Programme, such as Submit Learner Data, Further Education Data Improvement, Forms Collections and Further Education Workforce Collection
Who the users are and what they need to do
Users will be both external (employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations, apprentices and general members of the public) as well as ESFA. Users will need to carry out a range of task including submission of accurate data, access to data submitted, issuing of reports and outcomes, access to careers information / advice / guidance and conduction of audits.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Existing team
There will be no working with other suppliers. There will only be a need to work with ESFA staff members.
Current phase
Not started

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Cheylesmore House, Quinton Road, Coventry, CV1 2WT and remote working / supplier site working.
Working arrangements
This will be a 5 day per week (Monday to Friday) commitment and detailed working arrangements, including team location, size and make-up, will be contained within each statement of work.
Security clearance
Up to BPSS (vary by SOW issued). In exceptional circumstances, clearance of up to SC may be required.

Additional information

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 locations 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.

Essential skills and experience
  • Within the last two years have demonstrable experience in the successful design and delivery of end-to-end digital products
  • Within the last two years have demonstrable experience in User Centred Design Services which can be demonstrated through successful project delivery and the achievement of key success measure for projects
  • Evidence of demonstrable experience within the last two years in working on complex, multi-stakeholder programmes (both internal and external)
  • Proven experience of successfully using a range of agile tools and techniques in the delivery of User Centred Design Services
  • Proven experience of successfully supporting customers to build in-house capabilities and ensure effective knowledge management and transfer
  • Experience of successfully implementing innovative user centred design solutions
  • Demonstrate understanding of the challenges of implementing user centred design
  • Technical competence in the identified technologies and agile practices such as VSTS, Microsoft Project / Teams, MIRE and Confluence
  • Evidence a good approach to UCD and meeting user needs on behalf of your clients. How have you utilised research to shape your work programme and engage with stakeholders
  • Demonstrate ability to quickly implement user centred design teams to successfully deliver urgent outcomes
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Describe how you ensure development aligns to UK Government Design Principles, Service Standard and Service Manual. Evidence how you prepared for and successfully passed a GDS Service Assessment or equivalent
  • Describe how you would work to understand specific requirements, key stakeholders and sign-off outcomes when working within a constrained timeframe
  • Evidence of successfully optimising costs to generate savings; and adding value to client programmes

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstrate experience in end-to-end delivery of digital products from discovery through to live
  • 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 including project management, research, design and development
  • 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
  • Ability to demonstrate good value for money for the UK tax payer
  • Demonstrate understanding of the challenges of implementing user centred design in a multi-stakeholder environment
Cultural fit criteria
  • Participate in community of practice and demonstrate knowledge sharing
  • Provision of training sessions to aid the development of ESFA staff
  • Act on initiative, drive improvements and balance risks
  • Actively promote diversity and inclusion
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Who's the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
There is no incumbent. This is a new requirement.
2. Who's on the panel?
Applications will be scored by a panel of 3 or 4 individuals who work for the Education & Skills Funding Agency with both appropriate technical knowledge and in-depth knowledge of their area i.e. National Careers Service, Apprenticeship Service, Data Science
3. Please would you confirm the evaluation weighting?
The weighting are 60% price, 30% quality and 10% cultural fit
4. Can you please explain the rationale for 60% price?
The DOS4 Framework offers the opportunity to assess a range of capable suppliers over a robust 2 stage process. As a government department we have to ensure that VFM is a key consideration when suppliers are tendering for opportunities. Technical capabilities will still be vigorously assessed, through the use of the DOS4 scoring process.
5. Can the delivery team be nearshore (for example, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria) with travel to locations as and when required, along with key individuals who are permanently located in London head office.
Unfortunately not. As per the stated requirements, the main location will be the ESFA office in Coventry.
6. Is the opportunity for delivering just design requirements, or also delivering developed software against it? i.e. would it suffice for the supplier to provide just researchers and designers for this opportunity, or would full scrum teams including developers and architects be expected also?
This contract will only be focusing on user centred design requirements and the appropriate roles for delivery against this
7. You have put a budget of 9.5 million on this, is this correct?
£9.5 million represents the forecasted budget for the duration of this contract, however as there is no minimum spend through the DOS4 Framework, it does not represent a commitment to spend.
8. What is the anticipated budget against east service: NCS, Apprenticeships and Data Science?
A forecasted budget split will not be made available. The budget outlined is indicative of the capacity required to deliver against these requirements for the duration of the contract period.
9. Is this requirement designed to replace all of the UCD service elements provided by your current suppliers, hence aggregation?
The requirement is designed to deliver against UCD requirements across the policy areas outlined. As requirements through the DOS4 Framework are outcome based there is no work passed from one supplier to another
10. £9.5m over 18 months for UCD services is quite substantial - could you clarify your definition of UCD service resources please (e.g. UR, UI, UX, content management)?
The requirements in this area will be in relation to UCD services, the make up of teams will be at the discretion of the successful supplier to deliver against agreed outcomes. Here is a link to a description of the typical roles we would expect to see:
11. Can you please clarify what software MIRA is - who produces the software and what is its function?
There has been a typo, it should actually read MIRO not MIRA:

Miro is an online collaborative whiteboard platform, please find a link below:
12. As the current phase states that this work is 'not started', does that mean this opportunity is not to take forward current ESFA projects within the difference programmes?
As this requirement is for support across a number of policy areas with different workstreams the phase of work is not applicable. The projects within ESFA this contract will support can not be shared at this stage.
13. Could you explain what is meant by 'innovative' in the context of this essential requirement: "Experience of successfully implementing innovative user centred design solutions?
This response should refer to an example of where a supplier has used new approaches or creative thinking to implement solutions with a successful outcome
14. What is meant by 'sign-off outcomes' within the essential requirement "Describe how you would work to understand specific requirements, key stakeholders and sign-off outcomes when working within a constrained timeframe?"
Sign-off outcomes refer to achieving deliverables / acceptance criteria
15. One of the nice-to-haves mentions 'successfully optimising costs to generate savings' - does this refer to costs to deliver UCD projects, costs to the organisation when delivering a service, both of these, or something else?
This can refer to both of these, either can be referenced along with "adding value to client programmes"
16. You want a UCD complete. Does this also need to have the architecture and infrastructure design that sits behind this done?
No, these services are already in place.
17. Will this be supporting the delivery of the product through development, testing and implementation?
As this contract will involve IT Service support across a number of workstreams, support across all phases of delivery may be required.
18. What are the anticipated volumes of users?
This is a varied number depending on the specific project. It could be 100's it could be 100,000's.
19. Do you have any targets identified already for performance/drop off rates/adoption?
Yes. These will be discussed with the successful supplier.
20. Do you have personas defined already?
This depends on the business area the project will be for. All detail will be discussed with the successful supplier.
21. Do you have access to speak to the 'customer'? For user research and usability testing?
Yes. Although the successful supplier may be required to also source some participants themselves.
22. Are there brand guidelines available for design?
Yes but these are subject to change. Current guidelines will be discussed with the successful supplier.
23. Do you have analytics available showing where problem areas are?
This depends on the business area the project will be for. All detail will be discussed with the successful supplier.
24. Is there an overall strategy for the design?
Yes although will vary dependent on the business area the project will be for. All detail will be discussed with the successful supplier.
25. How will pricing be evaluated? Will a pricing submission documented be requested?
Yes a pricing submission document will be requested. Price will be scored with the following methodology. Lowest Price/Suppliers offer x weighting (60%) = supplier score