This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Wednesday 9 December 2020
Department for Education

Software Development Capability (North)

11 Incomplete applications

9 SME, 2 large

16 Completed applications

9 SME, 7 large

Important dates

Wednesday 25 November 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 2 December 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 9 December 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
DfE require a supplier who can provide Software Development capabilities to deliver the digital outcomes required in the continued transition of a more delivery focused and user-centred department. Delivering the design and build of digital services that make a genuine difference to people’s lives as part of DfE’s digital transformation.
Latest start date
Monday 1 February 2021
Expected contract length
2 years
North West England
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
A pipeline of activity is foreseen over the next 24 months, with an indicative budget against the requirements for this capability being £2.5m, but that scope could expand or contract.
Budget approval is subject to Cabinet Office spending controls, service assessments and DfE governance.
Each SOW will outline the work required, associated budget and payment approach, CTAM, CTM etc. Suppliers will need to provide clear costs to enable tracking.
DfE does not commit to any minimum or maximum spend at this point.

About the work

Why the work is being done
DfE Digital are looking for a supplier who can provide Software Development capabilities. Working with us to deliver digital outcomes, which are part of building and delivering user centred services in line with the government service standard, which make a genuine difference to people’s lives as part of the department's digital transformation.
Suppliers will need to be capable of ensuring a project’s overall technical design meets user needs, standards and acceptance criteria, whilst conforming to time and budget constraints. Using agile methods and working collaboratively with multidisciplinary teams to improve DFE digital services.
Problem to be solved
DfE are looking for a supplier who will provide capabilities to deliver outcomes including:
Challenging entrenched practices and influencing decision makers
Identifying opportunities for digital transformation
Using suitable languages and appropriate platforms meeting user needs
Looking for opportunities to collaborate and reuse components
Transforming DfE into a user centred agile organisation by embedding modern practices, design and develop services of various sizes, how they interact with their surroundings and how they evolve over time, working with multiple service teams on problems which require broader development for delivery in an agile environment.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Users include but are not limited to:
Education advisors
School administrators
People that deliver children’s services
DfE staff

For example,
As a parent, I need to understand how to apply for financial support for my child
As a student, I need to know how to apply for financial support for myself
As a Social Worker, I want to spend more time directly supporting children and families so that I can offer an improved service
As a Service Owner, I need my service to be monitored and available with incidents resolved quickly and sustainably
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The department has a high-level roadmap of digital projects, which are iterated on the basis of insight and departmental priorities. Digital delivery projects are at different phases, potential services are identified and prioritised.

Find is in Public Beta -
Apply is in Beta Build -
Teacher Vacancies is in Public Beta -

The roadmap will be shared with the successful supplier once a contract has been awarded.
Existing team
Internal DfE staff are from a range of disciplines, developers and non-developers including security, policy, user research, service design, finance and commercial. Multidisciplinary skills may also be provided through compliant commercial routes.
The successful supplier will be expected to collaborate with other suppliers in delivering outcomes.
MadeTech are the current incumbent for this Software Development Capability.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
For the duration of restrictions on movement due to COVID-19, there is an expectation of remote working, including any required collaboration.

The primary base will be detailed in each Statement of Work (SoW) and expenses will not form part of the cost unless the supplier is asked to work from a secondary location instead.
e.g. If SoW primary base is Manchester then expenses wont be paid for Manchester.
This contract is to cover the North, primary bases for this capability is likely to be Manchester, Sheffield & Darlington.

Travel may be required to other DfE offices nationwide.
Working arrangements
DfE require Software Development capabilities to deliver outcomes for our agile development and continuous delivery.

A Statement of Work will outline the base location, working arrangements and outcomes and deliverables for each service and delivery phase.
To improve DfE internal capability, knowledge transfer will be a requirement for each SoW.

Existing DfE digital teams comprise of lead roles in Delivery Managment, Product and User Research, Service Designers.

Contract and Vendor Management form a key part of governance and suppliers must co-operate in fostering healthy working relationships and quality delivery.

We anticipate up to 5-8 concurrent engagements at any time.
Security clearance
DfE requires all supplier staff to have baseline personnel security standard clearance (BPSS).
There may be a requirement for some of the work to gain higher security clearance checks and / or enhanced DBS checks. Where this is needed it 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 Policy.
Primary work location stated in SoW won’t attract expenses.
For each SoW issued under this contract, the supplier is obligated to undertake the relevant security and criminal checks as determined by DfE, with the Buyer having sole discretion over the acceptance of Supplier Staff who will be performing the activities in the SoW.
Suppliers must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) May 2018; the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018, the Law Enforcement Directive and any subsequent amendments/changes to date.

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 ability to develop software in Ruby using recent language and framework features, i.e. Ruby on Rails
  • Demonstrable ability to develop software in C# using recent language and framework features and .NET packages
  • Experience of working in agile teams, working to Test Driven Development, CI/CD and DevOps practices
  • Experience of Cloud first approach using infrastructure-as-code, automation and PaaS
  • Evidence of performative relational database design
  • Ability to write maintainable, shareable code RESTful API design
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Proven service development experience of accessibility, iterative delivery, “working in the open” aka. Open-source
  • Experience of delivering software utilising the features of the Azure platform and GOV.UK PaaS
  • Experienced in developing distributed applications and an understanding of the associated technologies
  • An understanding of HTML & CSS and familiarity with JavaScript

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Software Development experience in using libraries and frameworks to avoid duplication of work
  • Prior experience of deploying to and operating provision, production and pre-production environments
  • Evidence of implementing a sustainable and transferable operational model covering monitoring, alerting, high availability, disaster recovery and other appropriate measures
  • Demonstrate understanding and ability to deliver digital products and services to government Digital Service standards
  • Evidence the scalability, flexibility, deployment, skills and strengths of Software Development capabilities
  • Evidence of contributing to a department's software development community, guidance and best practice
Cultural fit criteria
  • Share knowledge of tools and techniques with the wider team, community, both developers and non-developers
  • Encourage communication across multiple development teams to identify strategic requirements and dependencies
  • Experience of working with multi-vendor teams across multiple projects
  • Experience of collaboration with multiple organisational stakeholders with the aim to achieve a single objective
  • Experience of transferring knowledge to permanent staff within a client organisation
  • Evidence of working with multidisciplinary, agile service teams
  • Able to explain technical things to non-technical people, and non-technical things to technical people
  • Evidence of your ability and approach to deploy multiple resources at customer locations, specifically in the North West
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. We note that you are looking for both.NET and Ruby experience but also that you are planning on "up to 5-8 concurrent engagements at any time". Does this mean that you'll be working with multiple suppliers or a single supplier? If it's the former would you be open to working with some agencies that are Ruby specialists and others that are.NET given the different disciplines here?
This contract will be awarded to a supplier who is able to supply us with Software Development capabilities. These capabilities will be supporting delivery at different digital phases and may require .NET or Ruby expertise. We are happy to accept applications from suppliers who wish to bid as a consortia.
2. Could you clarify your definition of 'distributed applications and associated technologies' please?
Applications which are loosely coupled, hosted independently of each other, and implemented in different technologies, but form part of an overall service providing a seamless experience to users
3. Are you comfortable working with a Nearshore organisation?
For the duration of restrictions on movement due to COVID-19, there is an expectation of remote working, including any required collaboration. On return to offices, delivery of digital outcomes may require co-location with multidisciplinary teams
4. Is there an incumbent and if so, who?
MadeTech are the incumbent supplier
5. When you say distributed applications, what do you mean by it, and which associated technology would you like us to cover?
Applications which are loosely coupled, hosted independently of each other, and implemented in different technologies, but form part of an overall service providing a seamless experience to users. Specifically applications which are built as microservices, following the 12 factor app principles, communicate with each other using REST APIs and are containerised allowing ease of deployment in isolation of each other. The technologies the department uses are Ruby on Rails, .NET Core, Azure, GOV.UK PaaS, Docker.
6. Hi, could you re-confirm the incumbent supplier, please?
MadeTech are the current incumbent delivering Software Development capabilities
7. Can you clarify the request is regarding the first point in the nice-to-have skills i.e. "Proven service development experience of accessibility, iterative delivery, “working in the open” aka. Open-source"
"“We work to the the government accessibility guidelines:
We work to the GDS Service Standard, in particular point 12:
We work in agile multidisciplinary teams delivering iteratively based on user feedback and continuous delivery.
Examples of our open source delivery - 294 public/open source code repositories currently:"
8. Can you confirm the contracting timelines beyond stage I?
We are looking to receive stage 2 documents and run presentations in the first week in January with a signed contract in place by the first week in February. Timelines may be subject to change.