Awarded to Made Tech Ltd

Start date: Monday 15 March 2021
Value: £87,850
Company size: SME
Essex County Council

Enabling Platforms and Infrastructure - Discovery Phase

19 Incomplete applications

15 SME, 4 large

27 Completed applications

21 SME, 6 large

Important dates

Published
Friday 8 January 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 15 January 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 22 January 2021 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Summary of the work
Help Essex County Council (ECC) run a discovery to understand our options in adopting platforms as services, so that we can improve our ability to deliver digital services.
Latest start date
Monday 22 February 2021
Expected contract length
10 weeks
Location
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Essex County Council
Budget range
Up to £100,000

About the work

Why the work is being done
Essex County Council has around 90 different public-facing websites, in addition to various internal sites. The technology and platforms used to deliver these sites are inconsistent. As a result of that, they are challenging and expensive for the Council to maintain and support.

We are also not able to build on our existing services iteratively, or create new ones based on user needs as quickly as we would like. For example, the council’s main website (essex.gov.uk) works well for our users but the underlying technology is inflexible and makes iterations time consuming and expensive. This is a barrier to change.

Some of the websites and services at the Council were built around bespoke software, in .NET. We would like to take this opportunity to explore if we can move and consolidate on an open-source platform, supported by different APIs that will be able to receive and feed data off it.

We would like to explore re-using existing platforms and services available to public sector organisations, where they are fit for purpose.

As signatories of the Local Digital Declaration (https://localdigital.gov.uk/what-is-the-declaration/), we are committed to conduct our work out in the open, and share with other public sector organisations wherever possible.
Problem to be solved
How might we move away from our current inflexible systems to a modern technology stack and infrastructure that will enable us to:

- Create digital solutions and services quickly, and iterate them easily and continuously so that we can meet our users’ needs in a scalable way
- Simplify and consolidate our tech architecture and benefit from supplier competition in the open-source space
- Continuously comply with evolving accessibility standards
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a resident or a business owner, I need to find the information I need quickly and accurately, at my own time and convenience, so that I can get the help I need.

As an employee of Essex County Council, I need to understand and be able to quickly respond to the changing needs of users, so that I can provide the right information and services to support Essex residents and businesses.

As an employee of Essex County Council, I need to work with tools and systems that are designed based on my needs so that I can provide the right information and services to support Essex residents and businesses.

As an employee of Essex County Council, I need to be able to get to the information I need to so that I can do my job.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Essex County Council have identified a list of existing websites.
Existing team
Product Manager, ECC Service Transformation (TBC)
Service Designer, ECC Service Transformation
User Researcher, ECC Service Transformation
Applications Manager, ECC Technology Services
Delivery Manager, ECC Service Transformation
Current phase
Discovery

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Remotely
Working arrangements
In the current circumstances it is anticipated the team will work remotely and communicate via Microsoft Teams. Essex County Council use other collaboration tools such as Miro. All project ceremonies such as stand ups, sprint planning and show and tells will be held by video conferencing on Microsoft Teams.
Security clearance

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
  • Demonstrate experience in developing a “platforms as a service” approach and helping organisations adopt it
  • Demonstrate knowledge and experience of different open-source platforms available in the market
  • Demonstrate experience in forming a multi-disciplinary team with the buying organisation, specifically providing technical architecture, data migration, security and infra ops skills
  • Demonstrate a track-record of taking decisions guided by user research and measurable metrics
  • Demonstrate experience of building and maintaining positive long-term relationships with internal stakeholders and the project team
  • Demonstrate experience of delivery in line with the Government service standard and technology code of practice
  • Demonstrate experience in agile product/service delivery
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Provide evidence of having passed a government, local government or NHS digital service assessment
  • Demonstrate experience of helping organisations with limited budgetary and operational capacity to take well-informed IT investment decisions for the future

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
5
Proposal criteria
  • Understanding and experience of different open-source platform technologies
  • Clarity of the approach
  • How the approach can meet user needs, the Government Service Standard, and the Technology Code of Practice
  • How the approach will help ECC drive down its operating costs in IT and digital
  • Understanding of risks to successful delivery and how you propose to mitigate them in collaboration with us
  • The skills you will provide for discovery and your dedicated team
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions
  • Share knowledge and experience with ECC team members
  • Be comfortable in advocating for agile practices, open source & cloud-based technologies
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

60%

Cultural fit

20%

Price

20%

Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is there an incumbent providing these or similar/related services to Council?
We do not currently have an incumbent for these or related services
2. Who’s in the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
We do not currently have an incumbent
3. Who’s on the panel?
The panel will have representatives from Service Transformation, Technology and Architecture, Communications and Marketing, User Research, and Product Management
4. ‘Essex County Council has around 90 different public-facing websites, in addition to various internal sites.’
Does ECC have an existing audit of each of these websites that provides information regarding the underpinning technologies, data structures, content, user profiles etc? Or, are you expecting as part of the Discovery, that the supplier undertakes investigative work?
We do have a list of these websites, and their URLs. We know the tech and data structure for some, whilst we have not had the time to investigate others. We have user profiles only for the main essex.gov.uk site.

We will be forming a unified team with the incoming supplier to plan the Discovery work together, based on the outcomes described in the opportunity.
5. How does ECC envisage their team participating in the Discovery phase? What will each role do and how much time is estimated that they have scheduled on the project?
We will be forming a unified Discovery team with the incoming supplier to plan and complete  appropriate Discovery activities. We are aiming to make ECC team members described in the opportunity available full time for this work, but we do also recognise that between now and the start date, things might change. We will work on the team profile collaboratively with the incoming supplier.
6. Does the ECC envisage their own technical team building on the open source platform and implementing the system architecture suggested as a result of the Discovery, or will an external supplier be contracted for this set-up work?
Who will develop the platform after its initial deployment? Internal resource or external supplier?
We have not ruled out any options yet as this is the very Discovery that will give us the answers based on the evidence that we'll collect
7. Are any or all of the user stories already specified, or is this a piece of work for the Discovery phase? Who do you see undertaking this work if it is a deliverable?
We have some high level user needs regarding our residents and businesses in ECC, and we know the business needs of our internal teams. However, there is more work to be done collaboratively with the supplier to assess what's the best way to meet these needs given our current and incoming constraints.
8. ‘How the approach will help ECC drive down its operating costs in IT and digital’. What are the ECC’s current operating costs and what costs do you wish to achieve as a result of this work?
We do not have a specific number in mind, but we are interested in hearing about your expertise and experience in this area. We'd like to know how you've helped other public sector organisation(s) take IT and digital spend decisions that helped them simplify their estate and reduced their spending, and how that might apply to ECC.
9. 'Demonstrate experience of delivery in line with the Government service standard and technology code of practice’ – If a supplier can evidence of having followed similar frameworks for non-Govt clients, will this be marked favourably, or, will it be insufficient evidence of experience? For instance, if a supplier has comparable ISO accreditation, will that gain a positive mark?
​It will be insufficient evidence, as demonstrating examples of following the specific frameworks mentioned here is one of the essential criteria.
10. Is there an incumbent in place?
No
11. ‘Provide evidence of having passed a government, local government or NHS digital service assessment’. If a supplier has not undergone such an assessment despite working for local government clients (as it is not a client requirement) will this ‘nice to have’ in fact be a deal-breaker for the potential supplier?
As this is a nice-to-have, it is not a deal-breaker. However, it will provide additional points in the evaluation for those who can demonstrate it. ECC are able to exclude suppliers with the fewest nice-to-have skills and experience to get to the number of suppliers (maximum of 5) published in the requirement.
12. How much time do you anticipate that your existing team members will be allocated to this project? e.g. will they be working on this project full-time, or part-time?
We are planning for full time for most of the existing team members to be allocated to the Discovery. However, we are having to shuffle priorities most days because of covid-19 pressures, so we might need some flexibility when the work commences. However, just to reiterate, we want to dedicate our skills full time for the 10 weeks period.
13. Do you envisage user research to be included within the scope of this Discovery?
We do not envisage research being done with members of the public or businesses at this stage, because we'd like to understand the technical options at this point rather than checking whether our current sites are meeting user needs or not.

However, we will need to do user research with colleagues at ECC, to better understand their needs around content creation, publishing, and offering flexible tech solutions to different business units for public-facing web services.