This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Friday 31 July 2020
Education and Skills Funding Agency (DfE)

Procurement of Agile Development Services

8 Incomplete applications

5 SME, 3 large

38 Completed applications

25 SME, 13 large

Important dates

Published
Friday 17 July 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 24 July 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 31 July 2020 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Summary of the work
ESFA require Development services across a range of programmes to increase the ESFA/DfE's ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity: through continuous improvement to existing systems and delivery of new systems through agile phases
Latest start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Expected contract length
18 months
Location
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Education and Skills Funding Agency (DfE)
Budget range
The budget could range up to a maximum of £9.5m

About the work

Why the work is being done
The ESFA require a development delivery specialist to deliver across a range of directorates.

Data Science -We are looking at future system and business needs of the Department. Submit Learner Data (SLD), Further Education Data Improvement (FEDI), Forms Collections (FC) and Further Education Workforce Collection (FEWF) are Government Digital Service (GDS) platforms that underpin Department's needs for high quality business data. DfE plans to build holistic data collection services looking to exploit cloud services/automated data collections to GDS Standards. This will link into schools’ collections, aligning data items collected for individuals across the DfE. We expect the need for development work to run over the next 2 years.

Funding Directorate - Responsible for delivering all School & Further Education funding in England. We require an agile partner to help our Service Delivery team, Calculate Funding Service (CFS), complete their digital transformation. The challenges will range from bringing new products to live as well as shaping mature systems to support transformation.
Problem to be solved
Data Science - As the organisation moves forward there will be a strong need to support the existing services and any new ones falling out of the Transformation Programme. For example, there may well be a need for the business to actively support a new range of stakeholders and users in the delivery of T Levels.

Funding - As an internal funding modelling and calculation service, the CFS needs to be enhanced and developed to meet the evolving business and policy needs and interface with other ESFA systems to complete their digital transformation. This may require the spectrum of GDS agile roles. We are looking for a partner to transition knowledge, skills and experience to help build this.

COVID 19 has placed extra pressure on existing platforms and applications. There is a strong likelihood there will be a need to continue to support these initiatives.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Our users are external (employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations) and internal (government), for example:

• As a provider I need to submit data so that I can be paid accurately and in a timely manner; As ESFA I need access to accurate and timely data so we can pay providers, produce national statistics and carry out audits

• Users are internal and are responsible for calculating allocations. They need to interpret policy in order to model and calculate allocations to providers accurately so that integrated services can publish and pay funding to providers on time to deliver learning
Early market engagement
N/A
Any work that’s already been done
Data Science - SLD is in Public Beta and is preparing for the transition to a Live GDS service assessment. FEDI and FEWC are both in the Alpha phase of delivery and FC is a mature product which is experiencing a significant demand as a consequence of Covid 19.

Funding - The CFS is a live digital service. It is being continuously improved to meet ESFA evolving service needs. It has onboarded some funding streams and has various integration points to financial allocation, publishing and payments system.
Existing team
Teams currently supporting ESFA with expertise to deliver similar services 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.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Primary location will be ESFA Cheylesmore House, Coventry with working from home as agreed with line manager. Occasional travel to DfE/ESFA site in London along with travel across England for user research may be required may be required.
Working arrangements
This will be a 5 day per week commitment as agreed within individual statements of work and detailed working arrangements, including team location, size and make-up, will be contained within each. 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.
Security clearance
Personnel from the Service provider need to have both BPSS and an enhanced DBS check.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Expenses must be pre-agreed and comply with DfE Travel and Subsistence Policy. Any expenses shall be submitted in line with DfE standard T&S policy. Primary work location stated in Statement of Work 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 experience in delivery management and project support services such as agile, scrum, working in complex, multi-team, agile programmes
  • Within last two-years experience in architecture services, ensuring new and updated platforms, products, transactions and system architectures are robust, scalable, open and secure, working within established corporate governance framework
  • Within the last two years experience in building and supporting document libraries, work flow and case management systems (Microsoft Sharepoint O365, Microsoft Dynamics O365)
  • Experience of successfully delivering backend development and Implementing APIs for internal and external use
  • Experience in working with identity and access security in Microsoft Azure PaaS environment
  • Experience in successfully building SaaS and PaaS services in Microsoft Azure
  • Experience in successfully building scalable server-less cloud-based web applications using Microsoft Azure stack
  • Proven experience of successfully supporting customers to build in-house capabilities and ensure effective knowledge management and transfer
  • Within the last two years experience in successfully building front-end web applications (HTML/CSS/JS)
  • Within the last two years experience in scalable server-side cloud-based web applications (preferably Microsoft Azure) detailed knowledge of the C#, .NET, ASP.NET MVC/Razor, REST API, Cosmos DB optimisation programming languages
  • Evidenced experience of expertise developing software using modern engineering practices such as Test Driven Development and Continuous Integration & Deployment in an Azure DevOps environment
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Understanding of DevOps services including running production applications and optimising existing applications
  • Experience in building services to meet the UK government Digital Service Standard or appropriate similar standards within complex digital programmes across government
  • Evidence of successfully delivering Minimum Viable Product solutions within compressed timelines

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
5
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstrate working experience in delivering digital products/services and understanding the challenges of implementing user centred design in a government agile environment,
  • Demonstrate understanding to deliver digital products/services to Government UK Digital Service Standard or appropriate similar standards within complex digital programmes across government
  • Experience and methodology in approach to agile project using both Kanban and scrum
  • Demonstrable experience of working alongside clients in co-located, integrated teams
  • Demonstrate approach to knowledge and skills transfer
  • Technical competence in a wide range of relevant technologies and agile practices
  • Ability to scale up team and flex resource when needed on-site
  • Value for money
Cultural fit criteria
  • Innovate – Act on initiative, drive improvements, balance risks
  • Build capability – Encourage learning, share knowledge, address capability gaps, act on feedback
  • Approach to developing a "One Team" approach, Work as a team – Collaborate, establish good working relationships, generate team spirit
  • Actively promote diversity and inclusion as per the public sector equality duty
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

30%

Cultural fit

10%

Price

60%

Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is there a current incumbent
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier.
2. Is there a current incumbent
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier.
3. Who’s the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier.
4. Who's on the panel?
Applications will be scored by a panel of 3 or 4 individuals who work for the Department for Education, with both appropriate technical knowledge and an in-depth knowledge of the requirements.
5. What are the procurement timelines e.g. est. shortlisting date?
Whilst we are working towards having a fixed timeframe in which to complete this procurement, there may be a need to be flexible within these dates. Currently our indicative timeline is:
Review and shortlist initial submissions by 11th August
Review and evaluate supplier proposals and presentation by w/e 28th August
6. Who is on the evaluation/presentation panel?
Applications will be scored by a panel of 3 or 4 individuals who work for the Department for Education, with both appropriate technical knowledge and an in-depth knowledge of the requirements.
7. Can you confirm if there is an incumbent supplier?
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier.
8. Who is the current incumbent providing these development services?
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier.
9. "Within the last two years experience in building and supporting document libraries, work flow and case management systems (Microsoft Sharepoint O365, Microsoft Dynamics O365)"

Are these the tools that are 100% set in stone or would you consider using the "leader" in Enterprise Agile tools, Atlassian? The Atlassian toolset integrates well with Microsoft products, such as Teams, as well as Jenkins and more for agile development.
Altassian has been used in the past, however, for present we are developing using Microsoft tooling for now. We are not planning to go elsewhere in the short term.
10. Please can the Authority confirm if this engagement is considered to be inside or outside of IR35?
This requirement falls outside of IR35
11. This looks very similar to two other tenders released by ESFA within th last month. Are the awards due to in increase of work currently not visible?
This procurement is not linked to any previous procurement activity and is a new requirement
12. Who carried out Discovery, Alpha and Beta for SLD?
Suppliers previously involved in projects is not relevant to bidding for this opportunity. There is no current incumbent and this procurement will be a new requirement.
13. Who carried out Discovery for FEDI?
Suppliers previously involved in projects is not relevant to bidding for this opportunity. There is no current incumbent and this procurement will be a new requirement.
14. Who carried out Discovery for FEWC?
Suppliers previously involved in projects is not relevant to bidding for this opportunity. There is no current incumbent and this procurement will be a new requirement.
15. Who carried out Discovery, Alpha and Beta for FC?
Suppliers previously involved in projects is not relevant to bidding for this opportunity. There is no current incumbent and this procurement will be a new requirement.
16. Who carried out Discovery, Alpha and Beta for CFS?
Suppliers previously involved in projects is not relevant to bidding for this opportunity. There is no current incumbent and this procurement will be a new requirement.
17. Is the contract deemed to be outside IR35?
This requirement falls outside of IR35
18. "Experience in successfully building scalable server-less cloud-based web applications using Microsoft Azure stack"
Can you please clarify what you mean by Microsoft Azure Stack – Are you expecting the supplier to have experience in Microsoft Azure Stack on-premise cloud technology product, or are you referring to Microsoft Azure Public cloud PaaS and IaaS services?
We are referring to experience with Microsoft Azure Public cloud PaaS and IaaS services.
19. "Experience in successfully building scalable server-less cloud-based web applications using Microsoft Azure stack"
Can you please clarify what you mean by Microsoft Azure Stack – Are you expecting the supplier to have experience in Microsoft Azure Stack on-premise cloud technology product, or are you referring to Microsoft Azure Public cloud PaaS and IaaS services?
We are referring to experience with Microsoft Azure Public cloud PaaS and IaaS services.
20. COVID-19 has enabled teams and organisations to work effectively from remote locations. Will remote on-shore teams be considered for this opportunity?
As stated in the requirements, the primary location for delivery of these services will be the ESFA office in Coventry. Due to current working restrictions in relation to Covid-19 it is likely that there will be remote working initially. Once these restrictions are lifted delivery of services will continue to be from the primary location unless otherwise agreed with statements of work
21. Does the evidence of a web based customer portal system around Real Estate data necessarily have to be in the UK?
For this requirement, there is no criteria focused on evidencing a web based customer portal system around Real Estate data. We believe this question may be in relation to another opportunity. Please can you clarify?
22. Can you give additional detail on what kind of API's you are looking to use/develop as part of the project?
Due to there being multiple projects contained in this procurement there are no specific types of APIs that would be used. Our focus will be on operationalising data collections direct from data suppliers, removing burden and cost and automating data flows where possible (includes internal services with key business partners using restful APIs), potentially interacting with software suppliers cloud services to access data there and minimise the number of service users impacted.
23. Understanding of DevOps services including running production applications and optimising existing applications. Q) Are you looking specifically for SRE capability as part of this work or enablement for your team in this area?
We are looking for an understanding of DevOps services with a view of supporting and enablement of the team.
24. Could you elaborate on the IAM platform in use
Currently we are utilising Azure AD