Awarded to Hippo Digital Limited

Start date: Tuesday 8 December 2020
Value: £700,000
Company size: SME
Defra Digital Technology Service (DDTS)

Defra - User Centred Design (UCD) Capability Partner

16 Incomplete applications

13 SME, 3 large

38 Completed applications

26 SME, 12 large

Important dates

Monday 19 October 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 26 October 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 2 November 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Growing demand for UCD approaches and capability has created this requirement for a specialist supplier to work with our in-house digital teams.

You will deliver research and design outcomes across internal and public facing services in our Flood, Regulatory Services and Future Farming programmes, providing evidence-based design decisions ensuring value.
Latest start date
Monday 7 December 2020
Expected contract length
24 months, with an optional extension of up to 6 months (if required)
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Defra Digital Technology Service (DDTS)
Budget range
It is estimated that the work can be delivered within the budget range of £700,000 to £1,000,000. This is not a commitment to spend up to this value and the Authority reserves the right to consume at its discretion. The intended contract will be treated as an outcome based service solution and therefore out of scope on an IR35 assessment.

About the work

Why the work is being done
A growing demand for user centred design (UCD) approaches and capability has created this requirement for a specialist supplier to work with our in-house digital teams.

You will deliver a coherent UCD approach for internal and public facing services across major programmes of work including Flood, Regulatory Services and Future Farming, providing evidence-based design decisions that deliver value for both the organisation and our users.

This will enable us to meet the ambitions set out in our digital and technology strategy, ensure we meet government service and accessibility standards and underpin a consistent user centred approach to research and design throughout the EU transition period.
Problem to be solved
Defra's UCD team supplies digital projects across the department with specialists in content design, interaction design, service design and user research. However we lack central oversight, strategy, and consistency across different programmes. To underpin a coherent user centred approach to digital services throughout the EU transition period we are looking for a supplier to deliver a consistent set of research and design outcomes which can be applied at scale across the organisation. A supplier will help define and deliver a number of agreed packages of work across our services, working within the strategy and high level service design set by Defra. Outputs may feed into other requirements, examples include:

- Creating content strategies, publishing schedules and workflow plans

- Joining up products across areas deemed out of scope for current project teams

- Defining user journeys, visualising existing products and processes, highlighting inconsistencies, dependencies and pain points

- Identifying opportunities to improve services in a way that reduces costs, duplicated effort and failure demand, and that meets users' needs.

- Identifying measures to track the impact of changes, and ensure interactions and user journeys are rational and consistent
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a resident of an area at risk of flooding
I need to understand my risk
So that I can protect myself, my family and property

As someone applying for an environmental licence
I need to provide Defra with the right evidence for my application
So my application can be processed

As someone considering the ELM scheme
I need clear information about what I should and shouldn't do
So I know if I'm getting the right results.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Existing team
The supplier will be working with blended teams of civil servants, contractors and other suppliers, including internal heads of profession for UCD and multidisciplinary Agile delivery teams. There is no incumbent supplier currently delivering this capability, as this is a first generation contract requirement for this piece of work and will be awarded to one supplier.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Delivery teams are based in Bristol, Warrington and York. However all work is currently remote-based.
Working arrangements
Defra will cover travel and subsistence if it is absolutely necessary to conduct research, with prior approval required. A flexible approach is required to meet the needs of each individual project and programme on a 'Statement of Work' (SoW) basis. Each SoW will be costed against the rate card submitted by the supplier and incorporated into the contract.
Security clearance
All individuals must have a valid DBS basic check

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
All expenses must be pre-agreed between the parties and must comply with the Cabinet Office (CO) Travel and Subsistence (T&S) Policy.
All vendors are obliged to provide sufficient guarantees to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures so that the processing meets the requirements of GDPR and ensures the protection of the rights of data subjects. For further information please see the Information Commissioner's Office website

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
  • Demonstrable and recent (within the last 2 years) experience of building services to meet the government’s Service Standard
  • Recent experience of identifying and placing content designers, interaction designers, user researchers, service designers and accessibility consultants into agile delivery teams and understanding how those roles work together
  • Demonstrable and recent (within the last 2 years) experience of proving the benefits of a user-led approach in a deadline-driven environment
  • Demonstrable and recent (within the last 2 years) experience of researching and understanding user needs, and using that insight to drive content and design decisions
  • Demonstrable experience of effective content strategy and design, creating content for digital and offline channels, from task-focused guidance to microcopy
  • Demonstrable and recent (within the last 2 years) experience of designing services that meet both user needs and business objectives
  • Demonstrable and recent (within the last 2 years) experience of designing inclusive services, for participants who are digitally excluded or have access needs.
  • Experience of working in partnership with both in-house teams and other suppliers to achieve a shared outcome
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrable and recent (within the last 2 years) experience of engaging the whole multi-disciplinary team with a good user-centred design process to increase consensus and challenge assumptions
  • Demonstrable experience of using service design to frame whole problems for users and facilitating design thinking through workshops with users, industry bodies, senior leaders and other stakeholders
  • Experience of designing end-to-end services across a range of on-line and off-line channels
  • Demonstrable and recent experience of recruiting a diverse workforce and promoting a supportive and inclusive culture
  • Demonstrable experience of sharing knowledge and upskilling in-house teams to enable continued transformation beyond the life of each project

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Technical solution
  • Approach and methodology
  • How the approach or solution meets user needs
  • How the approach or solution meets your organisation’s policy or goal
  • Estimated timeframes for the work
  • How they’ve identified risks and dependencies and offered approaches to manage them
  • Team structure
  • Value for money
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation and other suppliers
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions
  • Have a no-blame culture and encourage people to learn from their mistakes
  • Take responsibility for their work
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Be comfortable standing up for their discipline
  • Can work with clients with low technical expertise
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Who is the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
As it already states within this opportunity, there is no incumbent supplier as a new strategic requirement. Therefore, no one is already working as a capability partner.
2. Who from your team will be scoring applications for this opportunity and what positions do they hold?
The scoring team will be directly from Defra's UCD and the positions they hold are Heads to senior specialist in DDTS.
3. Is there an incumbent?
No existing incumbent supplier as a new requirement.
4. Could you please elaborate on the procurement time line please.
End of clarification questions 26/10/20 12:00
End of response deadline 02/11/2020 for shortlisting
Expected date for completion of shortlisting 03/11/2020 at stage 1
Informed 04/11/20 successful and unsuccessful
Stage 2 shortlisted suppliers informed of next assessment 05/11/20 Expected date for completion of the assessment 2 stage 12/11/2020
Evaluation and approvals up to 23/11/20 Expected date for award of contract 24/11/20
Standstill proposed 24/11/20 - 03/12/2020 Contract signed from 04/12/2020
Start w/c 07/12/20 or by agreement.
5. In the section ‘Why the work is being done’, you note that you have a ‘digital and technology strategy’. Are you able to share that strategy with suppliers at this stage?
We will provide strategy at a later date, although note the following links:,and%20launched%20the%20HMG%20Sustainable%20Technology%20Strategy%202020.

Greening Government Sustainable Technology Strategy 2020
6. Regarding the nice-to-have criterion ‘Demonstrable and recent experience of recruiting a diverse workforce and promoting a supportive and inclusive culture’ – does that relate to the supplier’s own team/workforce/culture or to project/client teams?
Both, the supplier's own organisation and how this integrates and supports into the clients organisation and culture.