Awarded to Methods Business and Digital Technology Limited

Start date: Tuesday 22 September 2020
Value: £8,106,286.80
Company size: SME
Education and Skills Funding Agency

Agile Service Delivery

21 Incomplete applications

19 SME, 2 large

36 Completed applications

27 SME, 9 large

Important dates

Tuesday 28 July 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 4 August 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 11 August 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Digital Development outcomes to GDS compliant digital services to meet Government ambition of increasing quality and quantity of apprenticeships and deliver data collection services that reduce burden on users and add value. We will continue to ensure our services are user-centred; meet user needs and ensuring a great user experience.
Latest start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Expected contract length
18 months
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Education and Skills Funding Agency
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
Apprenticeships- The Government has committed to increasing the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in England. To support the delivery of this ambition we will continue to ensure our services are user-centred; meet user needs and ensuring a great apprenticeship experience.

Data Science -We are looking at future system and business needs of the Department. We have several key digital solutions that are Government Digital Service (GDS) platforms that underpin Department's needs for high quality business data. ESFA plans to continue 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.

National Careers Service: To deliver the digital service design project, through feature delivery to enhance the national careers service website and improve the customer journey from start to end.
Problem to be solved
Apprenticeships- 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- Ensuring existing and new data collections required by ESFA or DfE are digital by default, professional and minimise burden on users, with a focus on adding value by providing insights back to the sector.

National Careers Service- The new National Careers Service Operating model aims to automate and digitise the careers advice process, ensuring a digital first approach and reducing the administrative burden on careers advisers.  It looks to improve the way citizens engage with careers advice, realising efficiency savings in the process by reducing reliance on telephone and face to face interactions.   It also looks to improve the customer journey from start to end.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Our users are both external (employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations,apprentices, citizens and intermediaries such as parents,teachers and career advisors) 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.

Citizens looking to understand their options and routes to a chosen career and for intermediaries (parents, teachers and careers advisors). To ensure citizens can access up to date, reliable and relevant online careers advice and are able to identify and fill gaps they may have in training, qualifications, knowledge and experience to allow them to move to the next stage in their careers. To provide careers advisers with the right tools to support their customers and develop their skills as a careers adviser.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Apprenticeships - Minimum viable service introduced in 2017 and we continue to develop significantly capability as all employers take greater control of apprenticeships.

Data Science - Submit Learner Data 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 Forms collection is a mature product which is experiencing a significant demand as a consequence of Covid 19.

National Careers Service- Discovery phase for digital service design phase has been completed with features sequenced ready for delivery.
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. 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 (Monday to Friday) 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.
Security clearance
Personnel from the Service provider need to have both BPSS and an enhanced DBS check. Some projects may require higher security clearance checks, this will be detailed in the statement of work..

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 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.

Essential skills and experience
  • Within the last two years have experience in successful development and delivery of digital products/services to a highly regulated standard
  • Within the last two years have experience in delivery management and project support services such as agile, scrum
  • Within the last two years experience in architecture services and ensuring new and updated platforms, products, transactions and system architectures are robust, scalable, open and secure
  • Within the last two years have experience in Business Analysis services working in an agile environment
  • Demonstrate strong verbal, written and visual communication skills with the ability to proactively manage stakeholders and tailor to the needs of audience by collaborating on decisions
  • 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)
  • 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 and building front-end web applications
  • 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
  • Within the last two years experience of development within multi-strand digital programmes within the public sector
  • Experience of meeting GDS service standards or appropriate similar standards within complex digital programmes across government
  • Innovate – Act on initiative, drive improvements, balance risks
  • Focus on delivery – Focus on goals, set stretching targets, take responsibility for delivery

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
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 digital service standards
  • 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-sit
  • Value for money
Cultural fit criteria
  • Working with different suppliers and buyers staff in a collaborative way to deliver common outcomes
  • Participate in community of practice and demonstrate knowledge sharing, addresscapability gaps and act on feedback
  • Focus on delivery – Focus on goals, set stretching targets, take responsibility for delivery
  • Approach to developing a
  • Innovate – Act on initiative, drive improvements, balance risks
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Who’s in the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier
2. Who’s in the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier
3. 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 an in-depth knowledge of their area i.e. National Careers Service, Apprenticeship Service, Data Science
4. Confused. They seem to want a front end dev used to server-less cloud based environment, within agile/scrum environments, but the title is service delivery, which is a leader, and the mention BA experience? They seem to have 3 roles in one. Please clarify? Do we need to submit for the 3 roles in one application - Agile Service Delivery?
This call off will be used across multiple workstreams for delivery against outcome based statements of work. A range of roles will be required throughout the call off period.
5. Can you confirm the budget?
The budget is £9.8m
6. Is this engagement considered to be inside or outside of IR35?
This engagement is outside of IR35.
7. Would you consider a split onsite/nearshore delivery teams? For example, Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria. With travel to locations as and when required, along with key individuals who are permanently located in the UK.
Unfortunately not. As per the stated requirements, the main location will be the ESFA office in Coventry.
8. Are we able to use offshore resources (India) as part of project delivery?
Unfortunately not. As per the stated requirements, the main location will be the ESFA office in Coventry.
9. Given the current working conditions for many people with COVID-19, is there scope for remote working?
In the immediate and medium term teams will be working remotely. We anticipate that teams will be located on-site when we return to office working.
10. Are you open to the delivery team working inhouse, at an off-site location, with the expectation of regular travel?
There is an expectation as per the requirement, that delivery teams will be on-site in Coventry. There may be some scope for a proportion of remote working (1-2 days per week) dependant on the statement of works. There is no expectation of regular travel.
11. Can you advise who is supporting the current 'Submit Learner Data' public – beta? Do KPIs exist for the service delivered?
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.
12. Can you advise what is meant by ‘CosmosDB optimisation programme languages’ in Q9 of Essential Skills and Experience?
On review cosmos db optimisation languages programme element is no longer required in this criteria. Any response that includes reference to this will not be marked down for doing so.
13. In what context are you looking for stakeholder management? E.g. The users in the client organisation, senior stakeholders, external suppliers etc.
Stakeholder Management is generally within the business (including senior management) and there will be some occasions when communications with external stakeholders is required in relation to project delivery.
14. What Business Analysis Services are you looking for and in what context please? Also, are you looking for Business Analysis within an Agile team?
The department requires business analysis services in relation to delivery of digital products. Business analysts will also be required to support the department in understanding requirements as given by stakeholders and communicating those requirements to the rest of the team and the wider service.
15. How has the current Discovery, Alpha, Beta work been delivered? Was this purely via an ESFA team or with a rainbow team of suppliers?
This project of works covers a variety of projects which has been delivered by a rainbow team which is usually a mix of ESFA Staff and managed services (provided by different suppliers).
16. Can you expand on what abbreviations FEDI and FEWC in the Data Science area mean?
Further Education Data Improvement (FEDI) Programme and Further Education Workforce Collection (FEWC) are examples of two of our current deliverables.
17. In Q1 of Essential Skills and Experience, can you clarify and provide an example of what 'highly regulated standard' means. Are you talking delivery into a regulated industry or something different?
In our environment, "highly regulated standards" means highly regulated standards of delivery, not into a regulated industry. The Department for Education adheres to the Government Digital Service (GDS) standards.
18. In Q2 of Essential Skills and Experience, you mention experience in delivery management – can you advise whether this is live service delivery management or Agile Development delivery management?
Experience in delivery management is in reference to Agile Development Delivery management, to the point of launching a product and continuous improvement thereafter.
19. In Q2 of Essential Skills and Experience, can you clarify what you mean by project support services as Agile and scrum are more project management frameworks?
Project support services covers any functions required to support the delivery of a programme of work
20. In Q6 of Essential Skills and Experience, can you clarify whether Web application delivery means end-to-end delivery, including API and Data layer or just the front end ?
Project and programme delivery will require supplier capability to deliver full stack application delivery including front-end,API, Data Layer and Data store elements.
21. In Q1 of Nice to Have section, can you clarify what you mean by multi-strand digital programme, as there could be different interpretations of this phrase?
Multi-strand digital programme in this context means there will be a number of delivery teams delivering individual components as part of an overall programme