Awarded to Actica Consulting

Start date: Monday 1 March 2021
Value: £284,167
Company size: SME
Ministry of Defence, Defence Digital,MOD Corsham, Service Delivery and Operation

Base 029-Future Secure Discovery Phase

22 Incomplete applications

19 SME, 3 large

32 Completed applications

24 SME, 8 large

Important dates

Friday 22 January 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 29 January 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 5 February 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Summary of the work
Discovery of user needs working securely within MOD is needed to shape the next generation of secure computing consisting of: Identifying personas, interviewing users, producing set of user needs, user stories, analysing usage data. Supplier will show and tell findings back to project, will align, exploit other user on-going research.
Latest start date
Friday 26 February 2021
Expected contract length
3 months with additional 1 + 1+ 1  month options
South West England
Organisation the work is for
Ministry of Defence, Defence Digital,MOD Corsham, Service Delivery and Operation
Budget range
£350K - £450k Monthly extension option (if taken up) will be subject to separate financial approvals

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Ministry of Defence has traditionally worked across all of the Government information classification levels, mapping its IT systems to a single classification (Official, Secret, Top Secret) and to various information enclaves. MOD is approaching a decision point about how and what it provides as its future secure computing capability. To ensure we deliver a modern, user-centered, accessible, secure computing system, we need to understand the needs of our users across MOD, industry, partners across government and allies.
Problem to be solved
MOD is aware that our users have different needs based on their role, section of the department and information exchange requirements. We want to understand the needs of users so that we can deliver a secure computing system to meet their needs, reducing shadow IT and improving our ability to manage information risk.
Who the users are and what they need to do
The users are current secure end user compute users, MOD suppliers (defence contractors, etc), Civilian staff, Service personnel and civil servants from other departments. They need to be able to collaborate with other users, provide support to operations, develop capability and deliver defence outcomes.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
A series of user research interviews have been undertaken with users across MOD, a set of reports have been written about the requirements (CONEMP and CONUSE) and a series of endorsed requirements from the JROC (Joints Requirement Oversight Committee).
Existing team
Project manager, SME and requirements manager
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
MoD Corsham, Westwells Rd, Corsham SN13 9RA - Please see below statement on scope.
Working arrangements
We will need the work to take place across a variety of sites in the UK for the user researchers to observe and interview a variety of users. We will require regular visits to Corsham to work with the existing team and to hold regular finding feedback sessions for staff and suppliers working in MoD.
Security clearance
All user researchers will need to be SC cleared to enable us to share the relevant information and to enable the correct conversations with users to the correct detail. There is NO requirement for suppliers to have list X status.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Suppliers must use the Authorities Purchase to Payment Tool called CP&F or be prepared to sign up to the tool.
Travel and Subsistence must be included in the price.
The role is outside IR35
More detail will be provided at the tender stage, for suppliers that pass the shortlisting stage
Successful bidder will work to the Authority or Authority’s nominated representative.
The Cyber Risk Profile has been identified as Low reference -RAR-EPGX263C

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
  • Must have experience in user research creating clear user needs. (15%)
  • Must have experience working with a wide range of stakeholders, transferring knowledge to Civil servants and contractors unaware of user centred design methods (15%)
  • Be able to build relationships demonstrating the value of user research in environments of low awareness of user centred design (15%)
  • Knowledge and expertise in inclusive design, including accessibility (15%)
  • Be able to present and share findings at a senior level (15%)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Nice to haves - Experience working on user research of how a physical environment alters users needs. (9%)
  • Experience working in Defence and Security on Digital projects (8%)
  • Experience working with users from a range of different organisations both private and public sector. (8%)

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • How to approach research of user needs across a diverse set of user types - 20%
  • The proposed approach to conducting the discovery phase - 20%
  • How the skills your team will bring will help achieve our outcome - 20%
  • How to help us create a compelling case for change - 20%
  • How to create understanding and alignment with senior leaders and stakeholders - 20%
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as one team with our project team - 25%
  • Be transparent, collaborative and honest - 25%
  • Share knowledge and experience with MOD team - 25%
  • Be comfortable in advocating for agile practises, user centred and inclusive design - 25%
Payment approach
Fixed price
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Are you able to sponsor SC clearances for supplier personnel or will they need to hold SC clearance already? Would another clearance such as BPSS be acceptable in the meantime
SC is the minimum we will accept
2. Who’s in the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
There is no incumbent.
3. Who’s on the panel?
The panel is 2 x B Band Civil Servants.
4. Do the probation staff mentioned use any existing digital services in their role?
You are asking about a different DOS4 tasking; the MoD does not have Probation staff and we presume you are asking about a DOS opportunity from the MoJ
5. Is it assumed that probation staff will be the only user group – so the ‘people on determinate sentences’ would not input in to this digital service?
You are asking about a different DOS4 tasking; the MoD does not have Probation staff and we presume you are asking about a DOS opportunity from the MoJ
6. Assuming that the supplier can use an MOD authorised secure computing device and platform – given Covid restrictions, how much of the work (interviewing) can take place remotely?
This tasking is essential to deliver mission critical communications services that enable the MOD to: protect the nation at home. overseas, deter and combat threats enabling Central Government and NHS response to COVID-19.  We cannot complete this work 100% remotely nor do we expect suppliers to do 100% of visits in person. We would expect 30% of the interviewing could be done from MOD Corsham where we can provide secure communications to enable interviewing in the overseas base environment. However, a significant amount that will have to be done in person so the environment in which users work is understood.
7. Does ‘Security’ refer to Cyber Security or Security sector (e.g. Agencies/ Organisations?
Security refers to the defence and security sector; i.e any experience with Police, NCA, Security services, is relevant experience.
8. To understand the composition of a suitable supplier team, could the Authority please state how many users are anticipated to be interviewed over the 3 month period?
We don’t see a quantity goal here, we see a quality goal. We have fixed time, fixed money and fixed quality levels – user research is an on-going and enduring activity.
9. You talk about inclusive design and accessibility. Could you please provide more detail on what you mean by accessibility?
Please read we view that our research should highlight any access needs our potential users may have.
10. Is the budget inc or ex VAT?
11. You talk about “regular visits to Corsham to work with the existing team” – can you tell us who does the existing team report to in the Defence Digital organisation please?
No, this isn’t relevant – The team report through the Defence Digital command chain. For more on Defence Digital see
12. Will there be a set template to use for the submission at the final stage of the tender process please?
We have not set any template and require organisations using DOS to use their own bid documents.
13. We understand the user base is defence and security staff, suppliers, etc., and you mention prior work already done. Have you defined existing design personas?
We have some personas but they are worth revisiting as they were created in 2016 and Defence has changed in that time period
14. Are there particular user journeys you are more interested in?
No, we are after a broad selection to avoid bias to single user group.
15. How big is the overall population you are interested in?
We are after a broad selection to avoid bias to single user group.
16. Who are the users? How many types would you want to contact? Do you have an idea of personas?
Users are MoD staff, civil and military and potentially if time allows defence suppliers. An estimate of 150-175 interviews across England, Scotland and Wales with video conferencing for overseas users. We would supply personas to the winning vendor but wouldn’t offer that information at tender phase to the short list.
17. Are there any user centred techniques that you particularly favour, or is that something where you would like our advice?
Given the outcome we wish to achieve, part of your expertise as the supplier is suggesting how you would solve our challenges given your user research expertise. So yes, advice is what we expect.
18. Are you interested in UX, (of hardware, software or physical environment) or in a broader conception of discovering user needs and wants that future technology should fulfil?
Our users have particular needs that we are aware of; what changes that need is the physical and threat context that Defence finds itself in. We are thus interested in how a users needs may change given a context. In addition we don’t see the choice presented as an either or choice; both have to play into our decision making process.
19. You mention physical environments: are these office environments only, or field military environments too? Are there particular features of the environments that you are interested in?
There are no field deployed military environments; this user research tasking covers the UK and Overseas base environment for the MOD. We will be covering interfaces to the deployed environment (the need to send information to a deployed user for example) but not the deployed nor tactical information systems.
20. It sounds like you are looking for not just insights, but counsel how to convert insights into your future strategy. Is that correct? What is the balance of the two in your mind?
No. We have a strategy that will change based on the user research, we assume. Our strategy has to be delivery of systems and approaches to meet the needs of defence users in the near term.