Awarded to Engine Partners UK LLP (The Engine Group)

Start date: Monday 10 January 2022
Value: £3,000,000
Company size: large
Department for Education

DfE Service Delivery Capability

10 Incomplete applications

7 SME, 3 large

20 Completed applications

16 SME, 4 large

Important dates

Thursday 7 October 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 14 October 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 21 October 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Supply of resource: the off-payroll rules will apply to any workers engaged through a qualifying intermediary, such as their own limited company
Summary of the work
We are looking for Service Delivery capabilities to work in blended teams and with other suppliers, to manage the development, delivery, and communication of effective, user-focused digital services, taking products from vision to delivery by engaging with the users, teams, and stakeholders across DfE and wider.
Latest start date
Monday 29 November 2021
Expected contract length
2 years
North West England
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
These capability services are to be delivered over a contract period of 2 years and with an indicative contract value of £3m for the full 2 -year service delivery contract.

Budget approval is subject to Cabinet Office spending controls, service assessments and DfE governance.

Each SoW will outline the work required, associated budget and payment approach, CTM, T&M etc. Suppliers will need to provide clear costs to enable tracking.

DfE does not commit to any minimum or maximum spend at this point.

A pricing template will be provided to shortlisted suppliers at proposal stage

About the work

Why the work is being done
DfE are looking for a supplier who can provide appropriate capability and expertise to deliver outcomes working in blended teams across the department for the North of England to build and deliver high quality, user-centred and sustainable digital products, and services.

Service Delivery Capabilities include Delivery Management; Product Management; Business Analysis; Programme Delivery Management; and Service Owner.

Specifically focussing on leading, managing and developing teams, products and communications, suppliers will need to be capable of supporting a range of projects from inception through to live, delivering projects for;

- Teachers
- Parents
- Schools
- Social Workers
- Students
- Education advisors
- School administrators
- People that deliver children’s services
- DfE Staff

The supplier is expected to provide expertise and support and transfer this knowledge regularly to civil servants in the team and in the Service Delivery communities. This requirement is primarily within scope of IR35 but there may be elements of work outside scope of IR35.
Problem to be solved
Supporting a range of user led digital projects in Manchester, Sheffield and Darlington, from inception through to live. Digital and Technology Directorate are looking for a supplier to deliver outcomes based on user needs and government service standards.

The Digital Projects across the DfE are in various phases of work from Discovery to Live. You would be expected to a work on a range of different phases depending on the project.

DfE have an ambitious transformation delivery plan over the next 24 months. For example, Service Delivery Capabilities will support projects that will enable Social Workers to spend more time with families or putting the structures in place to improve adult learning. This will involve agile working in a complex policy environment to develop new digital services and/or products for the sector.

DfE’s current digital stack and approach consists of the following elements:

Microservices architecture, with internal and public facing HTTP and JSON REST based APIs for business logic and data access.

User facing websites are built sing Ruby on Rails, and deployed to the DfE Azure platform and GOV.UK PaaS. Code is hosted in the DfE Digital GitHub.

Further information can be found at DfE Digital Technical Guidance
Who the users are and what they need to do
Our users are both external and internal to Department for Education. Users include, but are not limited to:

Social Workers
Education advisors
School administrators
People that deliver children’s services
DfE staff

As a supplier you will work with our digital delivery teams to support policy areas in developing new digital services and products in line with the DfE’s digital transformation journey.

Examples of this include:

As a school leader I need to know more about funding opportunities so that my school can apply for relevant grants.

As a parent, I need to understand how to apply for financial support for my child.

As a student, I need to know how to apply for financial support for my myself in the education sector.

As a Social Worker, I want to spend more time directly supporting children and families so that I can offer an improved service.

As a Senior Responsible Officer for a project, I need agile capability to provide delivery management, remove blockers to progress and monitor teams.

I need agile coaching to establish and embed an agile environment required for optimal delivery.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The Department has already started its digital transformation journey. As a result, digital techniques are being used to deliver services such as The National Skills Fund, Apprenticeships Service, Apply to be a Teacher (Apply is in Beta Build - and Teacher Vacancies is in Public Beta -, Fostering and Adoption, School Performance Tables, and the Early Careers Framework.

In addition, Service Delivery has played a part in delivering

You will be expected to work on a variety of programmes from Discovery through to Public Beta, in teams of varying levels of maturity in agile delivery.
Existing team
The successful supplier for this contract will provide Service Delivery Capabilities, which include Delivery Management; Product Management; Business Analysis; Service Owner and Programme Delivery Management

Roles will be aligned to GDS capability framework descriptions

You will work with internal DfE staff from a range of disciplines including architecture, security, policy, user experience, service design, software development, finance and commercial.

You will also be expected to collaborate or work with other suppliers who are providing capabilities as part of a team, for example, service design, technical architecture, software development and user research.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
For the duration of COVID-19 restrictions all teams are expected to work remotely.

For any SoW, the work is likely to be based in Sheffield, Manchester or Darlington. Some work may be UK wide and travel may be required to other DfE offices.

The primary location will be detailed in each Statement of Work (SoW) and expenses will not form part of the cost unless the supplier is asked to work from a secondary location during the execution of the work e.g. If SoW primary base is in Manchester then no expenses will be paid for Manchester.
Working arrangements
Detailed working arrangements will be contained within each Statement of Work.

Day to day delivery will be governed by standard agile delivery techniques, with appropriate ceremonies to be undertaken.

Scope and prioritisation of work is decided by the product owner with input from the Senior Responsible Owner and wider DfE governance. SoW's will be reviewed by relevant Heads of Profession.

Separate SoW's may include services that fall inside and outside of IR35 - with an expectation that a high proportion will be inside of IR35. We will be looking for a supplier that has the capacity to meet both scenarios.
Security clearance
DfE requires all supplier staff to have baseline personnel security standard clearance (BPSS) – any enhanced security requirements will be detailed in the Statement of Work.
Suppliers will be required to complete a supplier security assurance form to ensure they meet the required standard for DfE e.g. cyber essentials

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Standard Framework and Call Off T&Cs apply. Expenses must be pre-agreed and comply with DfE Travel and Subsistence policy.

Primary work location stated in the SoW will not attract expenses.

Contract and Vendor Management will form a key part of governance. Suppliers will be expected to co-operate in a manner that fosters healthy working relationships and quality delivery.

Suppliers must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) May 2018; Data Protection Act 2018; Law Enforcement Directive and any subsequent amendments to date including providing sufficient guarantees to meet GDPR requirements in line with Procurement Policy Note 02/18 May 2018.

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
  • Evidence of successfully designing and delivering end-to-end digital services in a public or third sector environment, demonstrated through passing assessments at every stage of agile delivery lifecycles, such as GDS
  • Evidence of demonstrable experience successfully designing services using user-centred design methodologies and working collaboratively in a complex, multi-vendor environment
  • Demonstrate successful experience and responsibility of moving and managing a product through different lifecycle phases from Discovery through to Public Beta/Live as well as decommissioning
  • Demonstrable experience of successfully providing business analysis on a high profile large scale digital programme with a wide range of stakeholder groups.
  • Demonstrable experience and evidence of prioritising user needs (using qualitative and quantitative data) with an agile team and iteratively incorporating user needs
  • Evidence of experience successfully delivering digital products and services across user types including b2b, b2c and internal, to stringent service standards, similar but not exclusive to GDS service standards
  • Evidence of experience successfully developing products and services that adhere to robust standards when buying and building, such as the Technology Code of Practise and GDS Service Standards
  • Evidence of experience successfully applying agile development and delivery using Continuous Improvement/Continuous Development (CI/CD) techniques
  • Provide evidence of your business capability and capacity to successfully scale up and down consecutive projects at pace to meet business needs with both inside and outside IR35 working arrangements
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate and evidence successful experience in advocating for the importance of agile, iterative and user-focused delivery, as set out in the Government Service Manual
  • Evidence of experience of effectively communicating progress, using a range of communication methods, to engage a wide set of users across government audiences, which include senior level stakeholders
  • Provide evidence of experience supporting customers to build in-house permanent capabilities, by providing insight, structure and guidance, and ensuring effective knowledge management and transfer to develop buyer’s permanent staff

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Evidence of demonstrable experience in the delivery of digital products, services, and outcomes, similar but not exclusive to, government service standards and/or technology code of practice
  • Demonstrate and evidence ability and capability to successfully deliver outcomes using agile methodology in environments where digital maturity varies
  • Evidence of delivering successful outcomes of digital services/products in a multidisciplinary environment using the following capabilities: Delivery Management, Product Management, Business Analysis, Service Owner and programme delivery management
  • Demonstrate and evidence ability to promptly scale up, respond to fluctuating requirements, and be flexible in deploying to meet organisational needs without compromising adherence to service standards/tech code of practice
  • Provide evidence of successful approaches used to make complex and technical concepts and language simple and accessible for non-technical audiences
  • Demonstrate successful delivery of digital products and services using an iterative approach based on clear data, evidence and outcomes
  • Demonstrate and evidence how your business model will propose to deliver value for money for a government organisation when delivering and developing digital products, services and outcomes
  • Experience of effective collaboration with multiple stakeholders to achieve a single objective, including evidence of experience working in a multidisciplinary, agile service team through every stage of the product lifecycle.
  • Experience of leading and supporting flexible, thriving, remote-first agile teams. Explain how you will ensure effective onboarding/offboarding and knowledge transfer with minimal impact on velocity and quality of delivery
  • Evidence of experience in leading investigative work into problems and opportunities in existing and new services, driving analysis and collecting information to create recommendations for service improvements in digital settings
Cultural fit criteria
  • Evidence of experience of working successfully with an organisation at the beginning of an agile culture change and what you did to create real, meaningful, and lasting impact
  • Provide evidence of experience of building capability of permanent staff from a diverse range of experience and varying skillsets, within a client organisation over the duration of a contract/engagement
  • Evidence of your approach to actively promote diversity and inclusion, encouraging increased representation of under-represented groups within the workforce e.g. Women, BAME, Disables, LGBTQ+ and how you monitor/measure this
  • Provide evidence of experience in how you actively and successfully manage and prioritise the wellbeing of yours and the clients teams whilst achieving outcomes at pace
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Can you confirm who the current incumbent is?
The current incumbent is Engine Partners UK.
2. Is the essential and desirable skills of “experience in delivering projects” required of the business applying for the opportunity or the resource (this is mentioned in the details) provided by the business applying?
Both the Supplier and individuals placed on each Statement of Work will require experience of delivering projects.
3. Who from your team will be scoring applications for this opportunity and what positions do they hold?
Applications will be scored by a panel of Civil Servants who work for the Department for Education, with both appropriate technical knowledge and an in-depth knowledge of the requirements.
4. Who is the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
The current incumbent is Engine Partners UK. They have been an incumbent since April 2020
5. Can you please advise the timelines of this procurement (e.g. shortlisted companies notified, anticipated contract award)? Also, can you confirm if shortlisted suppliers will have the opportunity to present?
Whilst we are working towards having a fixed timeframe in which to complete this procurement, there may be a need to be flexible within these dates. Currently our indicative timeline is:

Review and shortlist initial submissions by 28th October

Review and evaluate supplier proposals and presentation by 19th November

Contract award by December.

Presentations will form part of the criteria in Stage 2 as set out in the published requirements.
6. Can you please advise the preferred tech stack for this opportunity?
DfE’s current digital stack and approach consists of the following elements:  

Microservices architecture, with internal and public facing HTTP and JSON REST based APIs for business logic and data access.  

User facing websites are built using Ruby on Rails, and deployed to the DfE Azure platform and GOV.UK PaaS. Code is hosted in the DfE Digital GitHub.  

Further information can be found at DfE Digital Technical Guidance
7. Can you confirm how you have determined that “the off-payroll rules will apply to any workers engaged through a qualifying intermediary, such as their own limited company”
This contract is for both inside and outside IR35 requirements. IR35 determinations will be made for each Statement of Work. It is likely that the majority of requirements will fall inside of scope of IR35. IR35 determination will be assessed based on the outcomes and working practises required for each Statement of Work.
8. How do you plan to score the price component of the outcome? Given work could be both inside and outside IR35 so you expect suppliers to provide two rate cards?
Through the pricing assessment there will be an opportunity to assess roles both inside and outside of IR35 therefore we would ask that Suppliers provide two rate cards.
9. Can you clarify what your expectations are of Continuous improvement & Continuous delivery? CI/CD typically refers to dev-ops tools and practices, however suspect that is not the intention in this case
DfE are looking for a Supplier who is able to deliver agile service delivery whilst developing teams in both delivery and technique. We are interested in the management of agile service delivery with CI/CD at its heart
10. Question 9 refers to ‘consecutive’ projects. Is that correct or is the intention for ‘concurrent’ projects?
This should say ‘concurrent’.
11. Can you provide more detail on the types of things you anticipate to be decommissioned?
We expect the Supplier to be able to take a service through any stage of the delivery lifecycle from discovery to decommission. A live or legacy product being replaced will need to go through a decommissioning/retiring process.
12. What role titles do you envisage needing support with?
Service Delivery Capabilities include Delivery Management; Product Management; Business Analysis; Programme Delivery Management; and Service Owner.
13. It’s interesting to see Service Owners on here given it’s typically filled by civil servants

1.Is there a specific reason you need them?

2. Do you expect them to ex-civil servants?

3. What duration do you expect them to be in role for?
This contract is for service delivery, including all roles under the product and delivery job family as per the DDaT capability framework. As such, Service Owners are included as part of this requirement and they do not need to be ex civil servants.

There is no guarantee that service owners will be required as part of this contract, as it is dependent on the needs of the digital delivery teams at the time of their requirement. However, we reserve the right to request this capability should the need arise and the duration will be determined by the SoW and requirement.
14. Is there a max rate cap per SFIA band?
Suppliers are expected to set their pricing across the levels as appropriate based on the roles set out in the GDS capability framework. A rate card template will be issued at Stage 2 of the process.
15. Will full, detailed feedback be provided on this tender?
Feedback will be provided at both Stage 1 and Stage 2 to shortlisted suppliers.
16. For question 8, are you asking for Continuous INTEGRATION/Continuous Development (the traditional definition of CI/CD) or Continuous IMPROVEMENT/Continuous Development, as this distinction determines how we answer the question
This should say Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery.
17. Please, what is the anticipated budget?
The indicative contract value is £3 million for the full 2-year service delivery contract. DfE does not commit to any minimum or maximum spend at this point
18. Can you confirm if there is an error in the wording in this requirement and whether the requirement and criteria should say continuous integration and continuous delivery?
We can confirm this is an error and the requirement and essential criteria should say continuous integration and continuous delivery. Please disregard the wording continuous improvement and continuous development.
19. Can you clarify, or give an example of the type of B2B product/services you provide?
As an example, DfE have provided B2B services through the Get Help With Technology programme, working with external suppliers to provide laptops to schools and pupils. As a further example, our Schools Commercial Team work with schools to procure products and services.