This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Tuesday 6 April 2021
Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Institute Data Service Support, Maintenance, and Development

12 Incomplete applications

10 SME, 2 large

15 Completed applications

13 SME, 2 large

Important dates

Tuesday 23 March 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 30 March 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 6 April 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We are looking for a supplier to provide developer resource for the both the maintenance and development of our internal management information system, the Institute Data Service (IDS). IDS is a Django/Python based system that provides information to assist management and data reports to support core decision making.
Latest start date
Monday 17 May 2021
Expected contract length
2 years
Organisation the work is for
Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education
Budget range
The total 2 year contract budget is estimated to be approximately £930K .

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Institute Data Service (IDS) is an essential internal digital service that helps Institute staff carry out their everyday activities of developing and approving high quality apprenticeships. IDS provides information to assist case management and data reports to support Institute decision making – particularly board reports, route panel packs and route reviews. Given its central role, we need to ensure that IDS is properly maintained and that we continually develop it to meet the needs of our users.

Government plans for further improving technical education (as outlined in the recently published Skills White Paper) and, correspondingly, the expanding roles and responsibilities of the Institute, mean that we will also need to increase the remit of the system. This includes building brand new functionality to support the new Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ) approval process and, at a later date, the Post-16 qualifications approval process.
Problem to be solved
To provide support, maintenance and development of the Institute Data Service (IDS). Specifically this includes (but is not limited to) bug fixes, small feature development, front-end improvements, server maintenance and larger development projects.
To ensure the system meets the needs of Institute staff so that they can continue to develop, revise, and approve apprenticeships.
To ensure that we build functionality in the system to support the approval process for Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) and, later, for post-16 qualifications.
To ensure that the system is robust with servers and pipelines all following industry standards.
To ensure that an excellent and accessible service is available for users.

The quality standards are as follows:
- Make sure IDS is running 24/7. Any issue with servers leading users being unable to use the system needs to be resolved within one hour.
- Bugfixes relating to core operational products to be resolved within 5 hours max.
- Agile development methodology in development sprints delivering frequent product increments of demonstrable quality (to be agreed on each product backlog item where appropriate).
- Delivered products need to pass code review against DSDST coding standards and user testing. They should also include good test coverage and documentation .
Who the users are and what they need to do
As an Approvals Manager, I need to record my comments on products (apprenticeships, HTQs, etc) so that I can include them in a report for the Route Panel.

As a Relationship Manager, I need to ensure Trailblazers are kept engaged with the development and approvals process. I need to make sure apprenticeships and technical qualifications are developed and delivered to a high standard. I need to maintain and manage apprenticeships via my user status report.

As a Funding Manager, I need to ensure I have the documents, reports and analysis available to secure the correct funding band. I need high quality data available to make decisions.

As a Quality Manager, I need apprenticeships and technical qualifications to be developed to a high standard. I need reports and analysis to allow me to investigate the quality of apprenticeships and analyse why some apprenticeships may not be performing well.

All users need access to an accessible service with quality data, reports, and documents to allow them to do their job.
Early market engagement
Not Applicable
Any work that’s already been done
The support/maintenance work of IDS is continuous in terms of bug fixes, code refactoring, and small feature development.
We are in the process of setting up new development, test, and production environments (in Azure) to meet industry/DfE standards and to improve our deployment pipelines.

The following are upcoming projects (with only light scoping carried out so far):
1. Improving IDS following an accessibility audit.
2. Development to enable IDS to support the HTQ process.
3. Onboarding changes to the occupational maps and evolving IDS to reflect this.
4. Development to enable IDS to support the approval process for post-16 qualifications.
Existing team
IDS is managed by the Data Innovation sub-team of the Digital Services and Data Science Team (DSDST) in the Institute. The Data Innovation team currently comprises of data scientists, developers from an external supplier (the service we are now looking to reprocure) and a digital services manager. Others in DSDST are also often involved in the development of IDS. For example data scientists producing new data reports or improving existing ones on IDS or digital services colleagues when linking IDS to other digital platforms. There are currently 15 permanent members of DSDST (mainly London based pre-pandemic).
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Work will be done remotely and at Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT
Working arrangements
This will be a 5 day per week (Monday to Friday) commitment. Day to day delivery will be governed by standard agile delivery techniques. Currently we have a planning meeting at the beginning at the week and a daily scrum. The projects will be monitored by the IDS Senior Digital Services Manager. The Product Owner and the Senior Digital Services Manager will be responsible for prioritising backlogs. We will not be responsible for directly managing the developers provided by the supplier or for the project management of sprint work.
Security clearance
The level of clearance for this requirement is an Enhanced DBS and BPSS, suppliers who do not currently have this will not be excluded from the process however will be expected have upon contract start. (currently standard within ESFA)

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
The supplier must:
- Complete a monthly report on work achieved (a template will be supplied to the successful supplier).
- Use Department for Education hardware/kit (which we will provide)
- Operate within an 1509001 accredited Quality Management System.
- Ensure resilience from their side to avoid a single point of failure.
- Provide detailed breakdowns of work carried out during specified periods if requested at any time during the contractual term.

We reserve the right to ask for a change of personnel and the supplier must achieve this within 10 working days of the request.

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
  • Practitioner in maintaining and developing complex Django/Python systems.
  • Practitioner in managing servers and deployment pipelines in Azure.
  • Practitioner in designing and developing new and potentially complex features in a Django application from scratch in a user-friendly way.
  • Practitioner in working in an agile environment.
  • Practitioner in building, developing, and maintaining APIs.
  • Practitioner in working with non-technical users/colleagues including the ability to describe technical solutions in a simplified way.
  • Practitioner in front-end development using HTML, CSS and Javascript.
  • Expertise in using Azure DevOps and distributed version control systems (Git).
  • Practitioner in using back-end technologies such as PostgreSQL.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of training, helping and guiding less technical colleagues to increase team knowledge.
  • Expertise in identifying process optimisation opportunities leading to implementation of better solutions.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Proposed approach to ways of working with the Institute/DSDST.
  • Proposed approach to providing maintenance and support for the IDS application.
  • Proposed approach to managing servers and deployment pipelines.
  • Proposed approach to understanding the IDS application, database structure, codebase repository, external data sources and connections to other digital services.
  • Proposed approach to identifying risks around the IDS system and mitigating them.
  • Proposed approach to project management and resourcing of development projects (which will be set out in statements of work).
  • Proposed individuals who would be working on this project, including list of skills (with reference to the technical competence criteria specified).
  • How the proposal offers the Institute value for money.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work collaboratively with the Digital Services and Data Science Team.
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions.
  • Take responsibility for the work carried out.
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members.
  • Can work with clients with lower technical expertise.
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

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