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Highways England

Architecture Services Group Support

15 Incomplete applications

9 SME, 6 large

35 Completed applications

19 SME, 16 large

Important dates

Published
Wednesday 4 November 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 11 November 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 18 November 2020 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Summary of the work
This outcome will augment the architectural strategy, governance and support to IT projects in Highways England at the domain and enterprise level
Latest start date
Monday 4 January 2021
Expected contract length
Up to 24 months
Location
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Highways England
Budget range
Up to £3,133,910 over contract period

About the work

Why the work is being done
Highways England Architecture Services Group (ASG) provide strategic direction, guidance and assurance to all projects in HE with an IT component.

This contract is to:

• allow ASG to retain the current levels of service to the business for cloud and technology architecture assurance
• provide architecture services at a scale the in-house team cannot
• provide specialist skills and knowledge the in-house team do not have

The specific tasks cover a wide range of architectural services including the production of strategy documents and supporting artefacts, as well as reviewing project designs for strategic fit, following best practise and providing value for money.
Problem to be solved
With only a few members of the ASG, the group do not have the necessary resource to develop and prove guidance in new technologies across all domains, including Data, Cyber Security and Information Rights, and to shape future strategy in a timely manner, resulting in existing strategy not being reviewed and updated each year, and strategies not covering new technology early enough.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As an SRO I need to be confident that the designs produced use technology in an appropriate and cost effective manner.
As CEO I need to know that IT's strategy follows current standards, use modern technology appropriately, and can deliver HE's goals.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
This is an ongoing service
Existing team
This outcome will delivered in partnership with our current Architecture Services Group, which includes one other partner. The team includes a number of Lead Solution Architects under the Head of Architecture Services. The role will require engagement with the wider HE organisation at senior levels, and with a number of other suppliers.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Remote Working
Possible meetings at our offices in:
Birmingham (The Cube)
Leeds (Lateral)
Working arrangements
This team is expected to form an integral part of our group working with our Head of Architecture Services as the outcome lead. There may be occasional travel to HE offices.
Security clearance
Baseline Security Check

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions

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
  • Have experience of defining strategies for public cloud (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS), on premise and hybrid platforms, including cloud native technologies.
  • Have experience in designing and building cloud-native applications on AWS, Azure and Oracle Cloud
  • Experience in developing pragmatic and practical strategic platforms for public cloud, on premise and hybrid solutions
  • Have experience of evaluating new technologies for strategic fit and suitability
  • Have experience of providing guidance on ensuring the correct technical solution is used for services, based on various criteria including commercial, application lifecycle, data, etc.
  • Have experience in RedHat, OpenShift and Azure Microservice products
  • Have experience in evolving and improving architecture services
  • Have a pool of resources available at short notice to provide architecture services to HE to meet technology and/or volume demands
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Have experience of working within GDS Guidelines
  • Have experience in assisting an organisation develop agile delivery processes and integrating DevOps into an existing delivery framework.
  • Have experience in introducing microservices platforms, processes and technology
  • Have experience in multiple public cloud environments including Azure, AWS and Oracle Cloud

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
5
Proposal criteria
  • Explain the role of Architecture Services to an organisation (8%)
  • Briefly explain how you would gather the organisation's requirements, and derive a strategic IT direction from them (8%)
  • Briefly explain the people and process changes that are likely to be required when introducing an agile delivery process (8%)
  • Explain the steps your organisation takes to ensure its staff remain current and up to date with technology (7%)
  • Describe the broad architecture of a cloud native solution you have designed and delivered (7%)
  • Provide an example where you have created a cloud first (not cloud only) strategy, including an on premise and hybrid capability based in the EU (7%)
  • Provide a short description of the changes that HE ITD may need to deliver to support the Strategic Business Plan 2020-25 and beyond (8%)
  • Give an example of where you have helped build an architecture community and a centre of excellence based in the EU (7%)
Cultural fit criteria
  • Place safety of ourselves, our workforce and our customers as number one priority (2%)
  • Take ownership of work tasks with limited supervision (5%)
  • Considers new and innovative ways of working (1%)
  • Acts with integrity in delivering the service (2%)
Payment approach
Time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

60%

Cultural fit

10%

Price

30%

Questions asked by suppliers

1. Who from your team will be scoring applications for this opportunity and what positions do they hold?
The evaluation panel will be made up of suitably qualified and experienced members from within the Architectural Services Group
2. Who is the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
The incumbent is Netcompany and has been under contract for 2 years.
3. It looks like you are adopting a multi cloud approach, however you only mentioned AWS, Azure and Oracle Cloud. Would you be open to including the Google Cloud Platform (GCP)?
Whilst we ae open to all public clouds, we currently operate in the three cloud platforms mentioned, so experience in these is preferred.
4. We have received a number of questions regarding the incumbent which been answered previously.
Could you advise if there is an incumbent providing this service who may / may not apply for this opportunity or whether this is a new opportunity?
The incumbent is Netcompany and this is an ongoing service
5. Can you please advise the timelines of this procurement (e.g. shortlisted companies notified, anticipated contract award)? Also, can you confirm if shortlisted suppliers will have the opportunity to present?
This timetable is provisional, and may be subject to change by the Authority.
18/11/2020 - Deadline for responses to Shortlisting stage
19/11/2020 to 25/11/2020 - Shortlisting evaluation
By 27/11/2020 - Notification to suppliers 30/11/2020 - Invitation to Assessment Stage of shortlisted suppliers
04/12/2020 - Deadline for responses to Assessment stage
Period 07/12/2020 to 15/12/2020 - Evaluation of responses and presentations (if required}
By 18/12/2020 - Notification to suppliers
It is the Authority' s intention that shortlisted suppliers will be asked to carry out a presentation
6. Have experience in evolving and improving architecture services" – Can you please advise as to what you're looking for this answer?
We have a small IT architecture team in an IT Directorate that is evolving and developing. We are looking for some assistance in shaping the services we deliver, and improving our effectiveness within the company. This includes evaluating existing processes, communications and helping us build an architecture community across HE.
7. Is HE looking for a core (semi permanent) Architecture Team to be the core of the service who will work down a backlog based on their capacity, or more looking for a flexible skill supply arrangement (or arrangements) to react to requirements as they happen – to fill in where HE has resource shortfall?
We are looking for a small core team who understand HE, but with the ability to augment that team to meet resource shortfall, either due lack of technical knowledge, or a surge in demand.
8. What level of leadership support is expected from the supplier?

Typically if mapping to an organisations goals, those are defined and owned, and there is a conduit between the CEO and the Solution Architect – perhaps a business / enterprise architect who pulls the vision from each functional area necessary for its and the overall business plan.

Is this conduit / account management already in place, or will the supplier be expected to reach up to this? Is there already a high level IT strategy constraint to align too as well?
The architecture team report to directly to the CTO, and act at the business / enterprise level. The supplier will be expected to assist in building the relationships with the business, but this will remain primarily with the permanent team.

There is an IT existing strategy, but it is being reviewed and developed currently. The supplier may be asked to develop or review specific areas of this strategy, and other supporting documentation.
9. Is HE looking for a semi permanent team of 6-9 architects? What is the skill profile and availability profile expected? e.g. are 9 seniors needed in January, or 1 senior leading to 15 Juniors over the year? What is the expected demand and will this be single source to the bid winner?
Demand is unpredictable, but I can provide a historical view. Over the last 2 years the team has varied from 1 senior and 1 junior at the minimum to 2 seniors and 8 juniors at peak. Most of the time, it was 1 senior and 3 juniors. We have also included a PM and an engineer in the team, to help in PoC work.

Skills that are likely to be required include, but are not restricted to, business IT development, cloud native development, microservices, and integration, and IP telephony

It's the Authority's intention to award the contract to one supplier
10. What is the expected range of cloud solutions expected to be sustained or introduced with this work? (e.g. HR, procurement, knowledge management, job management, collaboration...?)
The purpose of this contract: "to provide architectural-governance for IT related projects being delivered in HE and to aid the development of IT-Strategy". There are around 300 of these IT projects per year, requiring varying levels of overview, from small SaaS implementations, to major multi-year projects supporting HE’s road-building and operations work. This contract does not include providing Solution-Architecture to these projects. Topics known to be underway or starting in the next year include, but not limited to, Project-Performance-Management, Asset-Management, CRM-Integration, Starters, Leavers and Movers. Whilst we are cloud-first we are not cloud-only and some projects may be delivered on-premise.
11. What are the core applications? Oracle (Finance?), Office 365 (collaboration, MI?) etc?

What is the split of work between cloud platforms? Is there a strategy core platform? e.g. is this 90% AWS, 5% Oracle, 5% Azure?
Our core platforms are Office 365, Oracle Fusion, Confirm, Oracle P6.

We still host a number of applications on premise, but the majority of our cloud services are hosted in Azure. Our HR and Finance systems are hosted in Oracle Fusion, and a number of our Digital Comms systems are in AWS. Our strategy states that we are multi-cloud, although our focus is mostly on Azure currently.
12. How do you adopt any new architectural advances in the modern day cloud led environment, to ensure you have adequate impact analysis, implementation, training and devops in place. What is the end to end process?
We are a small team, working with a number of vendors to identify architectural-trends and develop strategies. Our role does not include delivery and implementation, or project-level-design work. We are working to implement more agile-processes to enable our suppliers, who do the delivery, to work in more agile-ways. I am not sure is mean by ‘End-to-End’ process? The customer-journey is more about the governance of projects than the delivery-processes. It has architectural-input at the idea and business-planning-stages to help shape the solution, and reviews of the requirements, high and low-level designs at appropriate points in the delivery-stage of each project.
13. We note that several of the questions ask for experience of several environments or technologies. DOS guidance advises suppliers to use one example per response. Please confirm it is acceptable to show experience with multiple examples.
We can confirm it is acceptable to use multiple examples
14. 'Have a pool of resources available at short notice to provide architecture services to HE to meet technology and/or volume demands'

CQ – Is there any indication of the possible minimum notice that might be required?
To date the minimum notice period we have required is two weeks for an architect with Azure Infrastructure experience, we would not anticipate requiring a shorter notice period than this.
We expect there to be a longer notice period for architects with experience of specialist technologies.
15. Can you please explain what you mean by 'DevOps'?
HE have an ambition to deliver more IT projects in a more agile fashion, following GDS guidance, see link (https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/agile-delivery/agile-government-services-introduction), although we acknowledge that there is a cultural shift required to get there. We are looking for assistance in defining that shift, and instigating it. Part of that process will include developing a set of practises which works to automate and integrate the development and delivery of software products, enabling rapid delivery of change without losing quality.
16. The notice also refers to the provision of cloud and technology architecture assurance. Can we confirm that Highways is also seeking Data and Information Security professionals as they commonly do not come under the remit of tech architecture?
ASG review designs alongside Cyber Security, and where deemed appropriate, the Data Architect. They review designs for adherence to strategy and guidance, opportunities for reuse, and interactions with other services. They also work to prevent one project from interfering with the delivery of other projects, and join projects together where there is overlap.
17. The section titled “How suppliers will be evaluated” states “All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal”. Is this as separate document over and above the max 100 word responses to each of the skills and experience sections or is this guidance on how those responses will be evaluated?
The "How suppliers will be evaluated section" applies only to suppliers that have been shortlisted following the skills and experience stage. HE have indicated that a maximum of 5 suppliers will be shortlisted to move to the assessment stage. Successfully shortlisted suppliers will be asked to provide a proposal covering the "Proposal criteria" and " Cultural fit" criteria detailed in the " How suppliers will be evaluated section".
Guidance on the operation of the DOS 4 Framework can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/digital-outcomes-and-specialists-buyers-guide#shortlist-interested-suppliers
18. Is there a current backlog of proposed activity and if so how large is it?
We do not have a backlog in the non-agile sense of projects being delayed due to lack of resources. We do have planned workload for the next year and beyond, on top of the routine project assurance and strategy, policy and guidance reviews and updates.