Department for Education

Apprenticeships Digital Development, Testing and Architecture

12 Incomplete applications

10 SME, 2 large

1 Completed application

0 SME, 1 large

Important dates

Published
Thursday 4 August 2022
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 11 August 2022 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 18 August 2022 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

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
Require agile digital development, testing and solution/technical architecture services to support development of GDS compliant digital services users to support continued development and live running of the service. As service is already live we require a handover from incumbent suppliers and throughout a need for knowledge transfer to permanent staff.
Latest start date
Friday 7 October 2022
Expected contract length
2
Location
West Midlands
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 approximately £9,800,00 (inc VAT) for the full 2-year service delivery.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Government has committed to increasing the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in England. To support the delivery of this ambition we need to ensure our digital services are user-centred and meet user needs, ensuring a simple and great apprenticeship experience.
Problem to be solved
Ensuring the needs of users in the apprenticeship marketplace are met so that the quality and quantity of successful apprenticeships continues to increase. Outcomes delivered through building and live running of existing services, with new features and capabilities to be added in line with programme objectives. Significant user volumes interact with the services (millions of citizens, over 100,000 employers etc).
Who the users are and what they need to do
Our users are both external (employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and apprentices) and government, for example:
As a apprentice I need to easily access impartial information to understand and access apprenticeships, and to receive timely information on how I progress with my apprenticeship.
As a non-levy employer I need to understand the funding for hiring an apprentice, finding and recruiting the right apprentice
As a training provider I need to understand how I receive funding for apprenticeships from government
As an end-point assessment organisation I need to understand the registration process for operating in the marketplace
As DfE I need to oversee effective delivery of Apprenticeships, including sharing information with stakeholders, directly managing the issuance of certificates.
Early market engagement
N/A
Any work that’s already been done
A minimum viable service was introduced in 2017 and we continue to develop significant capability as we move towards the agreed vision whereby all employers take greater control of apprenticeship funding to drive up quality in the marketplace.

Since that time, we have continued to add new services/capabilities as we build out towards a great end to end experience for our users. These capabilities are connected through a personalised user-outcome, AI based, real time data model.
Existing team
Our build-test-run delivery model is underpinned by an agile at scale build capability. Existing teams are comprised of multi-disciplinary agile delivery skills. Teams are involved in service development for providing brand new digital services, following the standard GDS phases. Teams have up to 10 members, including product managers, delivery managers, business analysts, user researchers, design professionals, developers and testers. Solutions and Technical architects support delivery through setting strategic technology direction as well as supporting build team decision making. Teams are co-located, primarily in Coventry, but also distributed across sites in England. They comprise of digital service suppliers and permanent staff.
Current phase
Live

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Cheylesmore House, Quinton Road, Coventry, CV1 2WT and remote working / supplier site working
Occasional travel to the DfE/ESFA site in London along with travel across England for user research may be required
When in-office working takes place, the location will be Cheylesmore House.
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 Coventry , then no expenses will be paid for Coventry.
Working arrangements
This will be a 5 day per week (Monday to Friday) commitment and detailed working arrangements, including team location, size and make-up, will be contained within each statement of work. Day to day delivery will be governed by standard agile delivery techniques. These could be either a Kanban or a scrum approach (depending on the work) but the standard agile ceremonies appropriate to those will be undertaken. These will be monitored by the Delivery Manager and the Product Owner will be responsible for prioritising backlogs in refinement sessions.
Security clearance
All proposed team members must have current relevant Baseline Personnel Security clearance e.g. BPSS, DBS. Suppliers will complete a security assurance questionnaire and submit relevant supporting documents e.g. Cyber Essentials in line with DfE standards. DfE may require Security Clearance (SC) for roles with privileged access to the digital services

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
N/A

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 experience within the last two years of successful delivery of scalable cloud-based web applications (preferably Microsoft Azure).
  • Evidence within the last two years of notable experience architecting large-scale and complex software systems which are robust, scalable, open and secure, including functional and non-functional requirements.
  • Detailed knowledge of a number of programming languages and building robust and performant front-end web applications, APIs and other pertinent software workloads adhering to applicable technical standards and technology.
  • Evidence of successful digital development using distributed version control systems such as Git along with programming languages including: * C# * MVC / Razor * HTML / JavaScript / CSS
  • Evidence experience in making technology choices to deliver user needs and operate a great service in a cost effective way, preserving the ability to make different technology choices in future
  • Demonstrate and evidence substantial experience of expertise developing software using modern engineering practices such as Test Driven Development and Continuous Integration & Deployment in an Azure DevOps environment
  • Experience of delivering a high-quality code that meets user needs and maintains appropriate security protocols. Writing code and publishing it in an open repository (GitHub)
  • Proven experience of manual and automation testing (BDD, .NET, CI/CD, version control), non-functional testing and producing documentation: test plans, scripts, reports, defect logs and executing test scripts and raising defects.
  • Evidence of demonstrable experience within the last two years in working on complex, multi-stakeholder programmes (both internal and external)
  • Proven and comprehensive experience of supporting customers to build in-house capabilities and ensure effective knowledge management and transfer
  • Adhere to organisational ways of working, best practices and guidance setforth by the community practice leads.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of delivering services similar to our existing architecture (set out in work already done)
  • Experience of building software applications using the Government design principles, system and style guide

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
5
Proposal criteria
  • Technical competence in developing, supporting and maintaining complex, inter-related, scalable and secure software solutions, using Azure cloud and other emerging technologies.
  • Demonstrate approach to knowledge and skills transfer to all relevant stakeholders to enable the transition of service delivery to DfE.
  • Ability to promptly mobilise expertise to scale up team and flex resource when needed and to respond to fluctuating requirements.
  • Able to provide a service that has the capability to deliver outcomes on time to a high standard and recognise where approach needs to be adapted when not working.
  • Demonstrate understanding/ability to successfully deliver secure digital products/services to Government Digital Service standards and/or equivalent standards
  • Ability to drive innovation to transform services into modern customer centric solutions, using existing and new technology where appropriate.
  • Ability to translate business problems and user needs into technical designs which are delivered to expected business outcomes.
  • Evidence of maintaining at pace a detailed understanding of technical and business solutions to allow on-going support and further development, working with multiple agile teams and governance bodies.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate how you as a supplier have successfully adhered to a buyers’ code of practice or adopted organisational behaviours to ensure cultural fit (2%)
  • Demonstrate successfully operating a no-blame culture, encouraging people to learn from their mistakes (1%)
  • Participate in community of practice and demonstrate knowledge sharing (1%)
  • Working with different suppliers and buyers staff in a collaborative way to deliver common goals (1%)
  • How will your organisation support educational attainment relevant to the contract, including training schemes that address skills gaps and result in recognised qualifications (e.g. , Apprenticeships, Industry placements, Traineeships) (5%)
  • Describe how your organisation encourages diverse representation of under-represented groups in the workforce, e.g. Women, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, Disabled, LGBTQ+ and how you monitor and measure this (5%)
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

55%

Cultural fit

15%

Price

30%

Questions asked by suppliers

1. It seems one zero was omitted. Is the Contract Value £9,800,00 ?
Please note: - the contract value for this project is £9,800,000 (i.e.£9.8M) and not £9,800,00 as stated in the budget section
2. Can you confirm if the budget is £9,800,000 or £980,000?
I can confirm the contract value is £9,800,000 (i.e. £9.8million over 2years
3. May we know who the current incumbent is please?
Certes
4. Can you clarify the budget please.
I can confirm the contract value is £9,800,000 (i.e. £9.8million over 2years
5. Hi it the budget 98,000 or 9,800,00
Many thanks
I can confirm the contract value is £9,800,000 (i.e. £9.8million over 2years
6. Hi it the budget 98,000 or 9,800,00
Many thanks
I can confirm the contract value is £9,800,000 (i.e. £9.8million over 2years
7. Please clarify the relationship between this procurement and the current Apprenticeships procurement going through ITT: itt_9904 – RM6263/Lot 1 please?
They are 2 different requirements and you can bid for both.
8. 1) You mention incumbent suppliers. Who are they please, and how long have they been involved (i.e. since Discovery, Alpha, Beta, Live)?

2) Please confirm the budget – you’ve written £9,800,00 (inc VAT), but there appears to be a typo. Should this be £9,800,000 (i.e. £9.8million), or £9,800.00 (i.e. £9.8K)?
Supplier is Certes and contract has been in place from 06/01/2021

I can confirm the contract value is £9,800,000 (i.e. £9.8million over 2years
9. This opportunity states it is 2 years of work for £9,800 of expenditure. We assume this is a mistake. Please can you confirm/provide the correct information?
I can confirm the contract value is £9,800,000 (i.e. £9.8million over 2years
10. Who are the incumbent suppliers?
Certes
11. Is this related to a similar DfE procurement (Project_7713) on the DSP (Digital Specialists & Programmes) framework?
They are 2 different requirements and you can bid for both.
12. Who is the current incumbent please?
Certes
13. Can we ask who is the current incumbent is for the project?
Certes
14. How does this opportunity relate to the procurement DfE – ITT: itt_9904 – RM6263/Lot 1 Further Apprenticeships Agile Service Delivery Competition?
They are 2 different requirements and you can bid for both.
15. Hi Team,

Can you please elaborate and detail more on the existing architecture?

Can you please elaborate on the what you mean by ‘Community practice leads’?

In the below question, can you please elaborate more on security protocols what security protocols are we looking at?
‘ Experience of delivering a high-quality code that meets user needs and maintains appropriate security protocols. Writing code and publishing it in an open repository (GitHub)’.

Thanks,
Rishav Gupta
Part 1 Existing services are operated on Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure. We primarily work in Microsoft’s .NET technology stack, with C# being our language of choice. The service itself consists of a number of websites, APIs and Azure functions, running on a SQL backend and using NServiceBus for messaging between applications. Many of our newer applications adopt a microservice-like architecture and follow SOLID principles as much as possible. We use Azure Devops to manage our CI/CD pipelines, opting for automation wherever possible, not least for quality control and testing.
16. Hi Team,

Can you please elaborate and detail more on the existing architecture?

Can you please elaborate on the what you mean by ‘Community practice leads’?

In the below question, can you please elaborate more on security protocols what security protocols are we looking at?
‘ Experience of delivering a high-quality code that meets user needs and maintains appropriate security protocols. Writing code and publishing it in an open repository (GitHub)’.

Thanks,
Rishav Gupta
Part2 Within the Department of Education, we have a ‘community-of -practice’ for each of our core delivery professions (e.g. developers, testers, architects, delivery managers, user researchers, etc.), as well as having our own communities within the Apprenticeship Service itself. Through these communities, we are able to share knowledge, set profession-specific standards for members of the community to follow (e.g. coding standards, or preferred means of implementation) and communicate guidance on how to follow them. What we’re looking for here is both the ability to follow the organisational standards set forth by those communities to which a specific resource would belong
17. Hi Team,

Can you please elaborate and detail more on the existing architecture?

Can you please elaborate on the what you mean by ‘Community practice leads’?

In the below question, can you please elaborate more on security protocols what security protocols are we looking at?
‘ Experience of delivering a high-quality code that meets user needs and maintains appropriate security protocols. Writing code and publishing it in an open repository (GitHub)’.

Thanks,
Rishav Gupta
Part 3 continue ....and also a willingness for individuals to engage with and contribute to those communities to help shape and improve those standards further as new technologies and best practices emerge.

The apprenticeship service collects and processes a wide range of data which needs to be protected in line with legal requirements and industry standards. The supplier must be able to demonstrate capability and capacity to deliver these standards in the delivery of all aspects of the work delivered to the customer.
18. Hi Team,

Can you please elaborate and detail more on the existing architecture?

Can you please elaborate on the what you mean by ‘Community practice leads’?

In the below question, can you please elaborate more on security protocols what security protocols are we looking at?
‘ Experience of delivering a high-quality code that meets user needs and maintains appropriate security protocols. Writing code and publishing it in an open repository (GitHub)’.

Thanks,
Rishav Gupta
See Question 15- Question 17
19. Hi, www.ROQ.co.uk only provide Software Testing / Quality Engineering services – would you consider having testing provided by an independent specialist or are you looking for 1 supplier to deliver all roles?

Thanks,
David.
We are looking for a single supplier to deliver all of the required roles.
20. Hi Team,

Can you please elaborate and detail more on the existing architecture?

Can you please elaborate on the what you mean by ‘Community practice leads’?

In the below question, can you please elaborate more on security protocols what security protocols are we looking at?
‘ Experience of delivering a high-quality code that meets user needs and maintains appropriate security protocols. Writing code and publishing it in an open repository (GitHub)’.
See Question 15- Question 17
21. Can you please elaborate and detail more on the existing architecture?

Can you please elaborate on the what you mean by ‘Community practice leads’?

In the below question, can you please elaborate more on security protocols what security protocols are we looking at?
‘ Experience of delivering a high-quality code that meets user needs and maintains appropriate security protocols. Writing code and publishing it in an open repository (GitHub)’.
See Question 15- Question 17
22. We only provide Software Testing / Quality Engineering services – would you consider having testing provided by an independent specialist or are you looking for 1 supplier to deliver all roles?
We are looking for a single supplier to deliver all of the required roles.
23. Regarding the question ‘’Experience of delivering services similar to our existing architecture (set out in work already done)’‘

Are you looking for examples around personalised user-outcome, AI based, real time data model OR examples generally relating to the overall description of the service required?
While examples may be more general or specific in nature, we do require a supplier with relevant capability to support the services we operate as described in the procurement documentation.
24. In the below question, does open repository means Open-source? Could you please elaborate on this.
Experience of delivering a high-quality code that meets user needs and maintains appropriate security protocols. Writing code and publishing it in an open repository (GitHub)
See Question 15- Question 17
25. Clarification Question on questions 3 and 4, they are relatively similar. Is question 3 on technical standards? There is no mention of Frameworks and use of Frameworks in these builds. Can you clarify how to approach q3 and 4?
Question 3 is geared towards demonstrating a knowledge of building web-based applications (websites, APIs, function apps) while adhering to standards (both organisation-specific, and industry-recognised).

Question 4 is geared towards demonstrating an understanding of the specific technologies used by the organisation to build those applications. Preference would be given, for example, to those demonstrating a robust understanding of Microsoft’s .NET technology stack, and experience of GitHub for source control.
26. We are aware of a similar opportunity currently being procured via the DSP framework. Can you please explain how these two procurements might relate to one another?
They are 2 different requirements, and you can bid for both.
27. Clarification Question on questions 3 and 4, they are relatively similar. Is question 3 on technical standards? There is no mention of Frameworks and use of Frameworks in these builds. Can you clarify how to approach q3 and 4?
Question 3 is geared towards demonstrating a knowledge of building web-based applications (websites, APIs, function apps) while adhering to standards (both organisation-specific, and industry-recognised).

Question 4 is geared towards demonstrating an understanding of the specific technologies used by the organisation to build those applications. Preference would be given, for example, to those demonstrating a robust understanding of Microsoft’s .NET technology stack, and experience of GitHub for source control.
28. Question 11 – CLARIFICATION QUESTION – Are there particular communities of practices that you have in mind? Can you provide more detail because this will drive the particular practices that need to be adhered to. How does this align to GDS standards and TCoP?
Part 1 - Within the Department of Education, we have a ‘community of practice’ for each of our core delivery professions (e.g. developers, testers, architects, delivery managers, user researchers, etc.), as well as having our own communities within the Apprenticeship Service itself. Through these communities, we are able to share knowledge, set profession-specific standards for members of the community to follow (e.g. coding standards, or preferred means of implementation) and communicate guidance on how to follow them.
29. Question 11 – CLARIFICATION QUESTION – Are there particular communities of practices that you have in mind? Can you provide more detail because this will drive the particular practices that need to be adhered to. How does this align to GDS standards and TCoP?
Part 2 ......What we’re looking for here is both the ability to follow the organisational standards set forth by those communities to which a specific resource would belong, and also a willingness for individuals to engage with and contribute to those communities to help shape and improve those standards further as new technologies and best practices emerge.
30. could you please detail if there are there provisions for a handover from the incumbent team to the new supplier organisation?

And similarly if TUPE will be involved in the contract?
Provision would be made for transition of current and any new supplier following the completion this procurement process. We do not consider TUPE to apply.
31. Can this work be done from Offshore location or is it restricted to UK?
Due to the nature of the work we do, and the sensitivity of the data we hold, work can only be completed from within the UK.
32. What is your current tech stack and architecture?
Existing services are operated on Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure. We primarily work in Microsoft’s .NET technology stack, with C# being our language of choice. The service itself consists of a number of websites, APIs and Azure functions, running on a SQL backend and using NServiceBus for messaging between applications. Many of our newer applications adopt a microservice-like architecture and follow SOLID principles as much as possible. We use Azure Devops to manage our CI/CD pipelines, opting for automation wherever possible, not least for quality control and testing.
33. Can you please clarify what you are looking for responses to cover in question 11?
The main purpose of this question is to demonstrate both the ability to follow organisation-specific standards decided upon by the relevant community of practice (e.g. development, testing, architecture, etc.), and also a willingness to join and contribute to the relevant community in a way that might further enhance those standards as new technologies and best practices emerge
34. With regards to Q11, please can you define what types of community practice leads/ who are the community practice leads? For example, external communities of practice i.e developer community, technical authority, accessibility community? Or, DFE/ client internal communities
Part1 - We have profession-specific communities of practice both within the Apprenticeship Service, and within the wider Department for Education. The service-specific communities are lead by a (usually permanent) senior member of the relevant profession, while the wider DfE employs dedicated ‘heads of profession’ to unite them all.

The Apprenticeship Service communities of profession will be the most relevant to the day-to-day working of the successful supplier, since these communities will set the standards for each profession (e.g. developers, testers, architects, etc.) to follow while working on deliverables for the Apprenticeship Service (e.g. coding standards, implementation methods, preferred technologies, etc.).
35. With regards to Q11, please can you define what types of community practice leads/ who are the community practice leads? For example, external communities of practice i.e developer community, technical authority, accessibility community? Or, DFE/ client internal communities
Part2 -The main purpose of this question is to demonstrate both the ability to follow organisation-specific standards decided upon by the relevant community of practice, and also a willingness to join and contribute to the relevant community in a way that might further enhance those standards as new technologies and best practices emerge.
36. Please could you outline in more detail the services in your existing architecture?
Existing services are operated on Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure. We primarily work in Microsoft’s .NET technology stack, with C# being our language of choice. The service itself consists of a number of websites, APIs and Azure functions, running on a SQL backend and using NServiceBus for messaging between applications. Many of our newer applications adopt a microservice-like architecture and follow SOLID principles as much as possible. We use Azure Devops to manage our CI/CD pipelines, opting for automation wherever possible, not least for quality control and testing.
37. Within our individual 100-word responses, would you like to see one, more detailed example or multiple examples with less detail?
We would be happy to receive either. Whichever you think would best demonstrate your ability for the given criteria. If you have a single recent example that covers many bases, that is as good as multiple individual examples.
38. Are there any specific themes or examples you’d like to see within suppliers’ responses?
Experience of architecting, developing and testing complex distributed applications using the organisation’s existing technology stacks (Microsoft’s .NET platforms (current and previous), hosted on Azure Cloud) is the most important thing we will be looking for, along with the ability to work in a fast-paced, agile environment as part of one of many active delivery teams, some with overlapping concerns (e.g. shared services)
39. Can you provide a procurement schedule for this opportunity?
-Requirements/Advert by - 4 Aug 2022 
-Clarifications deadline stage 1  - 11 Aug 2022 
-Closing date  - 18 Aug 2022 
-Evaluation stage1  - 19 -31 Aug 2022 
-Moderation stage1  - 1 Sep 2022  
-Notify Supplie/Stage2 documents issued by   - 2 Sep 2022
-Stage2 Clarifications deadline  - 4 Sep 2022
-Stage2 - Written Proposals deadline  - 9Sep2022  
-Stage2 - Presentation  -W/c 12 Sep 2022  
-Evaluation stage2 - 12 – 15 Sep 2022 
-Moderation stage2 - 16 Sep 2022 
-Due Diligence&Outcome Approvals  - 20 -28 Sep 2022 
-Notify Supplier of Outcome - 30 Sep 2022 
-Contract Award by - 7 Oct 2022
40. Hi, Could you please provide details on the size of the incumbent team? And do you expect any changes to this? Additionally could you please share who the incumbent are?
Incumbent: Certes

We bring through over 20 services each month. Any changes to this will be based on budget over financial years and programme delivery needs will be managed via SOW process

The deadline for asking questions about this opportunity was Thursday 11 August 2022.