This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Thursday 10 December 2020
Education and Skills Funding Agency (DfE)

Apprenticeships Digital Development, principal analysis across digital service build

9 Incomplete applications

8 SME, 1 large

11 Completed applications

8 SME, 3 large

Important dates

Thursday 26 November 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 3 December 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 10 December 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We require agile digital development, testing and architecture services to support the development of GDS compliant digital services to support the continued development and live running of the service.
Latest start date
Thursday 1 April 2021
Expected contract length
18 months
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Education and Skills Funding Agency (DfE)
Budget range
These capability services are to be delivered over a contract period of 18 months and with an indicative contract value of approximately £1.2m for the full 18 months service delivery.

About the work

Why the work is being done
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 scalable, cloud-based and meet Government Digital Service standards; so that they meet user needs and ensure a great apprenticeship experience. High quality analysis to holistically understand and respond to policy challenges and user needs are core to successfully meeting this ambition.
Problem to be solved
Transforming the way in which the English apprenticeship system works -is a significant ambition with multiple policy, operational and delivery challenges. Ensuring the significant and multi-faceted needs of users in the apprenticeship marketplace are met with the aims of raising the quality and quantity of successful apprenticeships. As well as promoting social mobility, thereby adding to the country's economic performance. Outcomes delivered through building and live running of existing services, with new features and capabilities to be added into the multi-dimensional delivery model to meet ambitious programme objectives. In a large scale government programme and a complex environment this involves, co-design with policy across government, clear understanding of various user and stakeholder needs and an evidence-based direction to drive value in response to these .
Who the users are and what they need to do
Our users are both external (employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and apprentices) and government, for example:
As a student I need to easily access impartial information to understand and access apprenticeships, and to receive timely information on how I progress with my apprenticeship. Currently there are around 700,000 apprentices.
As a non-levy employer I need to understand the funding for hiring an apprentice, as well as be able to find and recruit the right apprentice. We are planning for around 150,00 employers to use the service.
As a training provider I need to understand how I receive funding for apprenticeships from Government. Around 2000 organisations are approved to deliver apprenticeship training.
As an end-point assessment organisation I need to understand the registration process for operating in the marketplace. Around 250 organisations can carry out assessments of apprentices.
As ESFA I need to oversee effective delivery of apprenticeships, including sharing information with stakeholders, and directly managing the issue of certificates.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
A minimum viable service was introduced in 2017 and we continue to significantly develop capability as we move towards the agreed vision for the service. Our vision is that all employers in England take greater control of apprenticeship funding to drive up quality in the marketplace. We currently operate 10 inter-connected services and continue to add new services, capabilities and features as we build out towards a great end-to-end experiences for our users. These capabilities are connected through personalised user-outcome, AI based, and real time data modelling.
Existing team
We operate at scale across all aspects of our award-winning build-test-run model. Our agile teams are multi-disciplinary with the full range of agile delivery skills needed to develop brand new digital services, through the standard GDS phases. Typical team size is up to 10, with a skill-mix such as product/service managers, delivery managers, business analysts, user research & design professionals, developers, testers. Teams are co-located in Coventry and comprise a blend of digital service suppliers and permanent staff. The delivery of analysis outcomes will align with the cadence of the service, to aid collaboration between all our multi-disciplinary teams.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The primary location will be ESFA Cheylesmore House, Coventry. Very occasionally travel may be required to the DfE/ESFA sites in London or across England where required for user research.
Working arrangements
Detailed working arrangements, including team location, size and make-up, the supplier will be accountable for the delivery of the outcomes 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. These will be monitored by the Delivery Manager and the Product Owner will be responsible for prioritising backlogs in refinement sessions.
Security clearance
Enhanced DBS and BPSS checks 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 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
  • Evidence of successful delivery within the last two years working on a large-scale transformative digital programme with significant complexity including user needs, policy constraints, business rules & process enhancements.
  • Demonstratable evidence of delivering high quality analysis on complex project assignments; from articulating problem statements to gaining buy-in to evidence-based recommendations that lead to successful outcomes for users.
  • Demonstratable evidence of delivering insight based on a range of evidence/data sources; viewing problem statements holistically to ensure options and recommendations provide successful solutions to real causes of identified problems.
  • Demonstratable experience of working successfully with senior decision makers based on continual assessment of problems to agree improvement options and build momentum towards agreed vision.
  • Demonstrable evidence of delivering business and process transformation to enable successful delivery of digital programmes.
  • Demonstrable evidence of working within and parallel to multi-disciplinary teams to develop solutions which consider all relevant considerations, including policy, compliance, regulations and assurance.
  • Proven experience of supporting customers to build in-house analysis capabilities, setting out the strategy for capability development and effective knowledge management and transfer.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of successfully working with a development team to build software applications using the Government design principles within the and Government Digital Service (GDS) style guide.
  • Experiences of successfully working on a large-scale programme with full end to end capabilities including insight and analysis to support co-design of policy options and the portfolio function.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Ability to successfully drive innovation to transform services into modern customer centric solutions
  • Technical competence in business analysis and agile practices
  • Ability to successfully analyse the most complex business problems, policy challenges and and user needs and deliver holistic recommendations.
  • Evidence of successful continual assessment of problems and agreement to improvement options to build momentum towards agreed vision.
  • Ability to successfully and promptly mobilise expertise to scale up team and flex resource when needed, and to respond to fluctuating requirements.
  • Able to successfully provide a service that has the capability to deliver outcomes on-time, to a high standard and recognise where approach needs to be adapted if not working.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate how you as a supplier have successfully adhered to buyers' code of practice or adopted their organisational behaviours to ensure cultural fit.
  • Demonstrate how you have successfully operated a no-blame culture, encouraging people to learn from their mistakes.
  • Evidence how you actively promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Evidence how you drive best practice in community of practice and demonstrate knowledge sharing to build capability.
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Who is the incumbent?
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier.
2. Can you share Alpha GDS assessment report?
There are 10 live services with a range of new capabilities and enhancements at various stages of delivery. A range of useful information is available at Apprenticeship service - ESFA Digital (
3. Is there an incumbent?
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier.
4. Who is on the panel?
Applications will be scored by a panel of 3 individuals who work for the Department for Education, with both appropriate technical knowledge and an in-depth knowledge of the requirements and the Apprenticeship service.
5. I have read this notice 3 times and still can't work out what you need. Can you please clarify?
Principal analysis services to drive forward an ambitious apprenticeship programme response to its most challenging issues. Outcomes will cover the whole spectrum of analysis needed to drive forward digital services (i.e. business analysis, user analysis, etc)
6. Who is the current incumbent for this service?
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier.
7. Recent ESFA opportunities have been released with a Price Evaluation weighting of 60%, is there a reason this has been reduced?
There is not a ‘one size fits all approach and a number of factors feed into decisions regarding the evaluation criteria for each procurement.
8. Can you please provide details of the MVP delivered including the technology stack this was developed on?
There are 10 live services with a range of new capabilities at various stages of delivery. Information is available at Apprenticeship service - ESFA Digital (

These solutions are built using the GDS Service Manual and the Governments Technology Code of Practice. They are built as "cloud native" solutions (from the ground up to exploit the capabilities of modern Public Cloud platforms), targeting the Microsoft Azure public cloud.

The service integrates with solutions within the DfE and across wider government, and exposes different APIs to consumers. APIs are built in line with the Cabinet Office API technical and data standards.
9. Can you advise if there is an incumbent supplier and who they are?
This is a new procurement so there is no incumbent supplier.
10. Please can you confirm the exact requirement? Are you looking for software developers, testers and architects to enhance or build new services as the ‘Summary’ suggests? Or are you looking for BAs, User Researchers, Designers etc. with experience of working alongside policy teams to translate requirements to delivery teams and ensure what is being developed is fit for purpose?
Principal analysis services to drive forward an ambitious apprenticeship programme response to its most challenging issues. Outcomes will cover the whole spectrum of analysis needed to drive forward digital services (i.e. business analysis, user analysis, etc) .