Awarded to Cognizant Worldwide Limited

Start date: Wednesday 12 May 2021
Value: £2,000,000
Company size: large
Department for Education

Technical, data and digital capability to develop services for DfE Capital and construction projects

15 Incomplete applications

11 SME, 4 large

11 Completed applications

7 SME, 4 large

Important dates

Wednesday 3 March 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 10 March 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 17 March 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Summary of the work
We’re looking for a technical, digital and data services partner to work alongside DFE to deliver services and joined-up data for construction needs including school building and bid-based funding programmes. The supplier will work with us using ‘configure first’ Microsoft stack technologies to deliver seamless data connectivity between systems.
Latest start date
Saturday 15 May 2021
Expected contract length
2 years
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
Up to £2,000,000 (excluding VAT).

About the work

Why the work is being done
DfE commissions the building and refurbishment of school buildings to improve the education of children and transform schools.

This opportunity is to collaborate on our digital, data and system priorities, including solutions supporting the delivery of construction projects and the services delivering the annual cycle of bid-based funding.

We aim to provide strategic, joined-up and interoperable user-centred services alongside trustworthy data for reporting, governance, project management and analysis. We aim to deliver value for money and quick, agile delivery through reusing patterns and implementing strategically across our projects. We need one common set of construction-related data, linked to wider DfE systems (e.g. Business Central) and adoption of strategic native solutions.

Where we have systems that need replacing, we need to combine and migrate data, gracefully decommissioning them and manage the change successfully.

For our external user facing services for bid-based funding, we need to ensure they are adapted and continuously improved to meet evolving user and business needs.

Our primary users are DfE employees, employees of construction partner organisations who are integral to construction outcomes and users at schools, colleges and responsible bodies.

We want to move towards a model of self-service and automation where tasks and governance become easier.
Problem to be solved
We have a pipeline of digital, data and technology projects to deliver as part of our construction business cycle. We also want to enable business change and improved efficiencies, governance, risk management, decision making and solve data and technology problems by decommissioning legacy services and replacing with new services

New services must be professionally constructed through ‘configuration first’ principles and developed with an ease of administration focus to be successfully transferred over to our permanent team to maintain and continuously improve with minimal technical debt.

We are using Microsoft’s Azure stack, Dynamics 365, Dynamics 365 portal, DevOps, CICD framework, Azure Data Factory 2.0 and restful APIs. The supplier should be able to work with Microsoft Project Operations and Project for the Web as well as the Informatica data toolkit.

We are seeking an experienced and flexible Microsoft accredited partner to provide capability to work with our team to problem solve, deliver and help us continuously improve our services.

We work in an agile way and our work is high volume and fast paced. We pride ourselves on delivering ‘agile’ pragmatically and with high efficiency to achieve great value for money for the public purse.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a programme management office analyst, I need to be able to analyse and report on trusted 'one version of the truth' data and information so that I can effectively manage construction projects.

As a construction contractor I need to be able to inform DfE of the progress of a building project against spend, quality and time so that DfE can monitor progress of a project.

As a school, I need to be able to apply for funding via an accessible and easy to use digital service so that my application for school refurbishment can be accessed by the DfE.

As a DfE finance officer, I need to be able to monitor programme spend and inflation factors so that I can forecast programme finances in year, and for future years against Cabinet Office spend controls.
Early market engagement
We have engaged with Microsoft to develop a proof of concept using Project Operations with Dynamics 365. We are looking to work with Microsoft on a similar proof of concept using Project for the Web. We will also look to concept a third project customer journey software option.
Any work that’s already been done
Some of our services with application cycles are in public beta; discoveries have been completed for some new services.
Existing team
An agile, collaborative, multi-disciplinary, user-centred team working across DfE sites with a common purpose to deliver projects. Existing civil service roles include: Delivery Managers, Product Managers, Service Owners, Senior Responsible Owners, Programme Delivery Manager, System Administrators, Data Governance and Programme Management Office roles.

You may also be required to work alongside other vendors who may provide additional roles, collaborating to deliver whilst owning your outcomes.

The successful supplier will provide flexible capability to achieve outcomes. The supplier will be required to supply any of the multi-disciplinary capabilities to deliver the project, which may include part-time, short-term or longer-term partial needs.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
For the duration of restrictions on movement due to COVID-19, all teams are expected to work and collaborate remotely.

For any given SoW, the base location is likely to be remote but research activity may be required England-wide as well as travel for project team initiation meetings.

The primary base will be detailed in each SoW. E.g remote, London, Manchester, Coventry, Sheffield. Expenses will not form part of the costs unless the supplier is asked to work from a secondary location.

Technology will need to be used optimally including Microsoft Teams and Azure DevOps boards.
Working arrangements
Collaboration to create a strong, agile inter-organisational team.

We will use statements of work.

Using collaborative tools enabling cross-site working including Microsoft Teams and Azure DevOps.

For governance, weekly status reports and meetings including updates on risks, blockers, finance and successes.

External facing services to be delivered to GDS service standards; internal services to the principles of GDS service standards.

Ability to contribute to show and tells.

Meet DfE architectural, data, technical and security standards and governance.

Provide flexible capabilities which may expand or contract including being able to work on multiple projects at one time (anticipated 3 separate projects).
Security clearance
DfE requires everyone to have baseline personnel security standard clearance (BPSS).

There may be a requirement to gain higher security clearance/ enhanced DBS checks. This will be detailed in the SOW.

The supplier will need to be compliant with the DfE's Security Standards and respond to a security questionnaire.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Expenses must be pre-agreed and comply with DFE Policy.

For each SoW, the supplier is obligated to undertake the relevant security and criminal checks as determined by DfE.

A SoW will outline primary base location (which won’t attract expenses), knowledge transfer, working arrangements and outcomes and deliverables for each phase.

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.

All IPRs (as defined) in the Project-Specific IPRs and the Deliverables shall vest in the Buyer unconditionally and immediately upon their creation.

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
  • Experienced Microsoft certified partner with demonstrable experience of end-to-end 'configure first’ Microsoft Dynamics 365 delivery with native components including PowerBI for reporting and analysis.
  • Proven and demonstrable experience of successfully developing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portals as used by a large number of external users and connected to D365.
  • Demonstrable experience in deploying programme and project management solutions to a broad range of stakeholders connected to Dynamics 365; ideally MS Project Operations and MS Project for the Web.
  • Evidence of skills and experience supplying user research and user experience capability to deliver great customer experience outcomes.
  • Experience of providing flexible resource to deliver similar technology, data and digital services to meet user needs including on a part FTE and short-term basis.
  • Evidence of delivering integrated Azure solutions using CICD and DevOps practice which align with rigorous technology code of practices, security standards including external IT Health Checks, accessibility standards and GDPR.
  • Demonstrable experience of gracefully decommissioning systems and transferring data from them.
  • Experience of solving problems through delivering robust and sustainable data and technical architecture, solutions and infrastructure using industry standard patterns and practices as well as easily administered monitoring and pipelines.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience or understanding of delivering outcomes within the public sector, the construction sector and English education sector.
  • Working as a team to pass GDS assessments or similar for external services including preparing and presenting work for assessment panels.
  • Demonstrate experience of knowledge transfer to the buyer’s organisation to build permanent back-end capability including user guides and training.
  • Communicate progress effectively to engage a wide set of users across government audiences including senior level stakeholders in Show and Tells and key meetings.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Experience of Dynamics 365 CRM implementation with 'configure first' methodology and designing innovative but proven connected project and programme functionality solutions to meet user needs.
  • Experience of securely developing external user Microsoft 365 Portal services and seamlessly connecting those to Dynamics 365 CRM.
  • Demonstrable experience of integrating systems within Microsoft Azure in a secure and efficient way using appropriate architectural patterns and technology to ensure systems are loosely coupled and performant.
  • Evidence of skills and experience delivering user research and user experience digital capability working on business services for internal users to deliver outcomes.
  • Experience developing and using PowerApps to quickly solve user problems including reporting needs.
  • Evidence delivering data outcomes within complex infrastructure and security including Microsoft Azure Data Factory 2.0 and Dataverse and connecting to data sources including Business Central, Sharepoint lists and SQL.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Explain how knowledge and experience will be shared with the host team to build capability for sustainable outcomes with examples of where this has worked successfully (2.5%).
  • Provide evidence of your company's approach to diversity and inclusion (5%).
  • Provide evidence of your ability to manage team well-being to support team health and achievement of SOW deliverables and outcomes (5%).
  • Evidence and understanding of the construction programme’s objectives and tone of delivery and civil service values (2.5%).
  • Experience of thriving in a remote-first Agile inter organisation-team including how you onboard people to ensure little delay to team velocity both before and after they join the team (2.5%).
  • Explain where you worked successfully, transparently and collaboratively with a host organisation’s architecture, network, digital and data teams to deliver to standards whilst safely decommissioning a legacy system (2.5%).
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Reference
  • Presentation
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. Who is on the panel?
Applications will be scored by a panel of 5 individuals who work for the Department for Education, with both appropriate technical knowledge and an in-depth knowledge of the requirements.
3. Are you open to two suppliers delivering this in partnership?
Yes, we are open to two or more suppliers delivering services. Your response should indicate the division of expertise and experience between the suppliers.