Awarded to Paper

Start date: Monday 8 March 2021
Value: £48,300
Company size: SME
University of Sheffield (IT Services, Research and Innovation IT)

2814/MH - Secure Data Hub - User Journey Mapping

46 Incomplete applications

43 SME, 3 large

58 Completed applications

56 SME, 2 large

Important dates

Wednesday 20 January 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 27 January 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 3 February 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Summary of the work
We are looking for an experienced supplier to carry out user research to allow us to better understand the user journey of researchers who wish to use sensitive data in their research projects.
Latest start date
Monday 15 February 2021
Expected contract length
6 to 8 weeks.
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
University of Sheffield (IT Services, Research and Innovation IT)
Budget range
We have allocated £50,000 (exc. VAT) for this work and are looking for suppliers who are able to deliver the maximum value for this budget.

About the work

Why the work is being done
We wish to understand the needs of researchers and research project leaders (PIs) in gaining access to the data they require to plan and carry out their research projects. We want to map their current experience of meeting these needs, identify the significant pain points and recommend improvements.

While we have no fixed deadlines, we do wish to move on this quickly and align it to other projects that are happening in related areas and would like to limit the time spent on this project to around 6 weeks from early Feb 2021.
Problem to be solved
We have anecdotal evidence that researchers struggle to understand what constitutes sensitive data, what their responsibilities are when using sensitive data, and what facilities the University provides to help them. We believe that this creates unnecessary confusion, anxiety and introduces risks.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a researcher, I need to be able to identify sensitive data, so I can treat it appropriately.

As a researcher, I need to understand how to manage sensitive data, so I can meet my responsibilities.

As a Principle Investigator (research project lead), I need to understand what resources my research project will need to handle sensitive data, so I can accurately plan and cost my project.

As a Principle Investigator, I need to provide data owners and funders with reassurance that I will take proper care of any sensitive data, so that they trust me to use the data.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Existing team
We have a Product Manager in place and are expecting to second a UX designer from another team to shadow the work and gain visibility of new skills and techniques.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The University of Sheffield's IT Services team is based in Sheffield. Most of our staff live in the Sheffield region, and we expect this work to be carried out remotely. All our researchers and staff regularly use Google Meet for remote meetings and conversations.
Working arrangements
We expect the supplier team to work in an agile way, holding daily stand-ups that our Product Manager will attend and regular show and tells, which will be open to a wider stakeholder audience. The stand-ups and show and tells may be combined with those of other teams who are carrying out related projects.

We expect the supplier to take an open, transparent and collaborative approach to the work and be prepared to include our staff members in research, analysis and synthesis activities to provide them with the opportunity to learn new skills and practices.
Security clearance
All staff should be BPSS cleared.

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
  • Proven experience of planning and carrying out remote user research using multiple techniques including interviews and structured conversations, and collaborative analysis and synthesis workshops.
  • Proven experience of mapping existing user journeys, identifying gaps and pain points, suggesting and prioritising remedies.
  • Proven ability to articulate the importance and impact of research findings to stakeholders with little/no experience of user-centred approaches.
  • Experience of transfer of skills and knowledge to in-house team members.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the use of sensitive data in research.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
Experience of working in in an academic research environment.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Ability to deliver value to the defined budget.
  • Ability to work to the expected time frames.
  • Skills and experience of the specific people to be assigned to the project.
  • Appropriate plan for delivery.
  • Proposed mechanisms for skills and knowledge transfer.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Ability to work openly, transparently and collaboratively with in-house teams or other suppliers.
  • Ability to work in an agile, iterative manner.
  • Diversity of the supplier team.
Payment approach
Fixed price
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. How many users would you like to include in the CX journey mapping and interviews/research?
We are looking for suppliers to advise and suggest an appropriate balance of different research methods (interviews, workshops, collaborative synthesis, etc) in the proposal document. We expect the suppliers to use their experience to suggest what activities will provide us with the most value from our budget and time scales.

For context we have provisionally identified 5 user groups, of which 2 are of most interest to us.
2. Is there an incumbent supplier for this project?
No, but we do have a supplier working with us on an independent discovery project in a different area of our department.
3. Is Monday 15th February the latest start date, as stated in the information?
The stated start date is driven by our desire to build momentum rather than a specific deadline.
4. Your request starts by seeking help understanding the needs in relation to ‘accessing’ data but the problem statement and examples (user stories) provided indicate that the scope is broader and includes ‘using’, ‘handling’, ‘managing’, and ‘appropriately taking care of’ data.

Shall I assume that you require a solid understanding of the research roles end to end journey from identification of data needed to the end product or answer that said data provides for the researcher (and the management of said data in between)?
Yes, but our focus is on the beginning of that journey.

We may have future projects that focus on what researchers do with the data to answer their research questions and what they do with the data once they are finished.
5. Do you also require advice on how best to identify and manage sensitive data?
No, we have an InfoSec team who understand that. But the project might well identify that our researchers need advice, guidance and support in order to identify and manage sensitive data.
6. How many university researchers and research project leaders (PIs) are there currently, and what proportion are likely to be available for interview / or online journey mapping workshops?
The University of Sheffield is a major UK University with 5 faculties, 4 flagship research institutes and a number of research centres. We have over ten thousand academic staff and postgraduate researchers involved in research (either as a PI or researcher). We are expecting suppliers to suggest a sensible number of users to engage in the user research within timescale, budget and ambition of the project.
7. You mentioned a product owner and agile methodology / stand-ups. What ‘product specifically is related to this task, and how?
We have a product manager in place who is leading this project to identify the appropriate products and services required to support our researchers when using sensitive data.
8. Will the supplier be expected to recruit participants themselves using an external recruitment agency? Or will participants be provided by Sheffield University?
We will work with the supplier to identify and recruit participants from our existing research community.
9. Is there an existing digital service that handles the upload, management and download of the sensitive data referenced in the brief? If so, may we have access to it if our proposal is to be accepted?
There is no single and integrated product/service that handles upload, management and download of sensitive data within our department. This project is intended to inform the scope and capabilities of such a digital service.
10. The nice-to-have skill of ‘Experience of working in an academic research environment.’ Can I just check what you are asking for here. Is it experience of working, for example, as a research associate within a university? Or are you asking around having experience of performing user research with academic researchers?
Either would be valuable.
11. You have stated that researchers struggle to understand what constitutes sensitive data, what their responsibilities are when using sensitive data, and what facilities the University provides to help them. Is guidance already made available to help researchers understand these elements by the University? If so how is it communicated?
We would expect the supplier to find this out (from the users point of view) as part of the project. Our website would might also be a good place to look to:
12. Secure Data Hub in the title – what is this? Do you currently have a hub where data for researchers is held securely or is the intention to create one?
This project is expected to inform our future provision of systems and services to enable researchers to store, access and analyse sensitive data. "Secure Data Hub" is an internal phrase used to encompass some of those systems and services. It does not exist as a product yet.
13. You mentioned the need to provide data owners and funders with reassurance that their data will be handled carefully. Are these data owners and funders established partnerships with agreements with the university or are they continuously changing based on the requirements of individual research projects?
The latter - Principle Investigators are at liberty to identify and form agreements with data owners and apply for funding from various bodies and organisations.
14. Is the research around these experiences focussed on using only facilities provided by the University e.g. data from defined partners, university owned websites and devices or does it consider external data sources, digital touchpoints and devices too?
The project is expected to help us understand the journey from the researchers point of view. However, we will be looking for how we, as an IT department, are able to improve that journey.
15. Can you suggest what does the university consider as the minimum number of researchers to be interviewed?
We expect the suppliers' to use their knowledge and experience to recommend a suitable number to maximise the value we get within the time and budget available.
16. Is the supplier expected to layout different digital technologies for managing, collating, and handling sensitive data in the outcome?
If the technologies being used are a significant part of the users' journey, we would expect them to be covered in the project outcomes.
17. What is the date the award decision be made by?
Applications close on Wednesday 3rd at 23:59 (GMT). We hope to have completed shortlisting and notified all suppliers by end of day Friday 5th. Those shortlisted will then be invited to submit a written proposal by 10am (GMT) on Monday 15th. We would then hope to have evaluated and notified the successful supplier by the end of the same week, with the supplier starting on Wednesday 24th.
18. Can the supplier define what constitutes ‘sensitive data’ within the context of this procurement (i.e. personal data, commercially sensitive data, intellectual property etc...)
Yes, we would expect the supplier to gain an understanding of what constitutes 'sensitive data' (in the minds of our researchers and other stakeholders) through user research.
19. When evidencing our technical expertise as a team, would it be acceptable to reference professional profiles via external URLs/links or do we have to copy/paste all our previous experience/accreditations into the form?
No. You must provide your answer within the 100 word count limit of the response form. Links and URLs will not be opened.
20. When asked if there was an incumbent supplier in a previous question, you responded ‘No, but we do have a supplier working with us on an independent discovery project in a different area of our department.’

Can you advise on what that project is and if the current supplier is in the bidding for this work also?
No. It is an unrelated project and has no bearing on this tender. We do not have visibility of who is bidding on this tender until it is closed.
21. Will we be able to engage directly with post grad student researchers and funders / third parties, as appropriate, and if so, to what extent? For example can we include them in a workshop session which may take 3 hours, or would we be most likely limited to shorter windows of opportunity?
We would anticipate that the supplier would engage with the users directly and we will work with them to decide an appropriate way for that to happen that will fit with their availability and schedules.
22. How much lead time do you require to recruit from your participant community?
This will depend on the user group. Researchers and PIs will likely have some availability within 1-2 weeks of asking, funders or other external people may be longer.
23. Given that participants will be recruited from an existing community – How do you currently incentivise participation, and if it is monetarily, how much do you tend to offer?
It is common for research projects in other areas of the University to incentive participation with gift vouchers of around £15-25 for around an hour of engagement.
24. So we can consider how best to involve the staff members in research and analysis, how many staff members might be included in the research and analysis and what are their skills and background? Would the staff members involved remain the same and participate throughout the project? How much time would they be expecting to dedicate to research and analysis?
We are expecting suppliers to provide guidance on how many of each user group we should/are able to engage with to get the most value out of the available time and budget. Whether the same users are engaged again at later phases of the project will depend on whether they are the right people to help us understand user needs at those later phases.

Our users, whether staff or external users, will have very limited capacity for engagement. While they tend to be keen to be involved, they will be balancing their engagement with their core research activities.
25. Should the seconded UX designer be incorporated into the project planning as a dedicated resource involved in the project or simply an observer?
We are expecting that our Product Manager, UX Designer and other team members are involved in the project/sprint planning and may be available for specific tasks, but should not be considered to be dedicated to this project.