Awarded to Spring Technology

Start date: Friday 9 June 2017
Value: £40,000
Company size: SME
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Digital transformation unit (DTU)

Digital user researcher for emergency travel document (ETD) online application improvement

12 Incomplete applications

8 SME, 4 large

19 Completed applications

19 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Tuesday 18 April 2017
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 25 April 2017 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 2 May 2017 at 11:59pm GMT


Specialist role
User researcher
Summary of the work
User research for addition of photo and document upload to existing emergency travel documents online applications (currently in public beta).
Latest start date
Expected contract length
4 weeks with potential for extension
Organisation the work is for
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Digital transformation unit (DTU)
Maximum day rate
£ 650 per day

About the work

Early market engagement
User research was conducted prior to launching online ETD applications and ongoing research is continuously performed to feed iteration and ensure the service continues to meet user needs.
Who the specialist will work with
The FCO's digital transformation unit is a small team, and on the digital side you'll be working primarily to a product manager. You will also be working with the wider ETD improvement project board and consular staff. The work forms part of a wider technical improvement project which will deliver enhancements to a number of systems (both those used by customers and FCO staff).
What the specialist will work on
Plan and carry out user research with staff/customers for our emergency travel document (ETD) service, with a particular focus on photo and document upload.

Find and recruit research participants who are potential and past users of the service including those with assisted digital needs.

Identify personas for the service.

Create user stories.

Identify and prioritise user requirements for this service and feed into the UX design.

Plan ongoing research that can be carried out by the project team after the contract has finished.

Test assumptions about users and the service.

Answer specific questions about user needs.

Build and test prototypes.

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Work will be done primarily in the FCO's London office in King Charles Street London. There is an expectation that field research will take place meaning that some work will be carried out off site. It is not expected that international travel will be required to support this research.

Please note that candidates should be available for interview on the 8th May.
Working arrangements
The individual will be expected to work to sprint plans and schedules set out by FCO and to participate in daily stand up meetings to report on progress and next steps. Reporting research findings to a number of FCO forums will be required, including Project Boards.
Security clearance
FCO offices are secure buildings and ideally the specialist would have Security clearance (SC). For the right candidate we would sponsor them to get SC though this will mean that in the early weeks the candidate will need to be accompanied within the building.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Ideally we would pay the specialist on a two week sprint by sprint basis.

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
  • Provide demonstrable evidence of how they have delivered user research in an agile team (10%)
  • Provide demonstrable evidence of identifying personas and creating manageable user stories (5%)
  • Provide evidence of how they have located, scheduled and interviewed research participants including assisted digital users (10%)
  • Provide details of how they would conduct remote research with international users (UK nationals based overseas) (5%)
  • Provide evidence of how a plan has been created with a previous project and methodology for ongoing research that can be implemented by a project team (10%)
  • Explain how they have previously identified user needs which can easily be translated into technical requirements (10%)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • User research for photo and document upload services (4%)
  • Using the prototyping toolkit to create prototypes for testing (2%)
  • Research for a significant change to an existing online service (4%)

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many specialists to evaluate
Cultural fit criteria
  • Provide evidence of where they have previously worked with technical and non-technical staff to understand requirements (5%)
  • Provide evidence where they have quickly joined teams and understood their needs (5%)
  • Provide evidence of where they have experience working in an agile manner (5%)
  • Provide evidence of where the researcher has successfully performed user research with staff users (5%)
Assessment methods
  • Work history
  • Interview
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. I wondered if you may be able to confirm if the intermediaries legislation applies to this role or not?
This is unable to be determined at this time as it is possible for contractors who are both in and out of scope of the off payroll working rules to be engaged through DOS. The successful supplier / contracting authority will need to check the status in accordance with the HMRC online tool prior to contract commencement. A link to this tool can be found here:
2. What approach has been taken so far to documenting user research?
Existing User Research (UR) and UR strategy has been taken forward by FCO’s Digital Transformation Unit. Because FCO are planning to make significant developments to the Emergency Travel Document (ETD) On-Line system, we are seeking some additional expertise to supplement the approach taken to date.
3. Question 2 has been replublished with some further, additional information -

What approach has been taken so far to documenting user research?
Existing User Research (UR) and UR strategy has been taken forward by FCO’s Digital Transformation Unit. Because FCO are planning to make significant developments to the Emergency Travel Document (ETD) On-Line system, we are seeking some additional expertise to supplement the approach taken to date.

Trello boards and Word documents have been used to date. A UR repository is also documented on Git hub including references to external sources.

For this new round of UR, FCO is seeking ideas and suggested approaches from bidders.
4. Does User Research include video?
User Research (UR) has not involved videos to date (there are restrictions on filming in FCO Posts overseas). There may be opportunities to record future remote UR, depending upon precise approach.
5. Are there any existing user researchers on the team?
There are no other dedicated user researchers on the team, but there is a business analyst working on the project. Some of the work will be progressed in conjunction with the Product Owner.
6. What flexibility is there in the timescales for the role?
This is expected to be two sprints (full time working) - initially a four-week period. Thereafter there may be flexibility if an extension is required.

The requirement is for shareable research – thereafter work will be progressed with the existing in-house team. There is potential for the contract to be extended but initially it will be for the 4-week period advised.
7. In terms of payments cycle – will suppliers be able to nominate deliverables in two week periods?
Suppliers should indicate in their responses and proposed approach to the assignment the nominated deliverables that would fit around the two – 2 week sprints.
8. For security clearance – what level of clearance is required and is this transferred over to FCO?
Yes – FCO would require details of clearances. SC clearance is required.
9. For clarity – does the assignment involve undertaking background research, document and present back?
The assignment will build on existing user research. FCO can provide access to past customers who have provided consent to be contacted. However, we are also looking for ideas and proposals on reaching out to actual/potential ETD customers on a wider basis.
10. Who are the users of the Emergency Travel Document (ETD) service?
The research should consider any British National over 16 years of age who could potentially be travelling overseas and require the Emergency Travel Document (ETD) service. The following link provides details of eligibility to the ETD service.
11. What is the IR35 status?
Please refer to our response to Question 1.
12. Can a candidate with DV clearance be considered for this role ?
Previous advice on security clearance is covered in our response to Question 8. Candidates with current DV clearance can be considered for this role.
13. What is the lead time for feedback once the application is submitted ?
Once proposals are submitted, we expect to complete evaluation by Monday 8 May (where interviews may take place if there is a need). A final decision is expected by Wednesday 10 May and the contract should start on Monday 22 May.
14. Can more than one candidate per supplier be submitted for this role ?
Suppliers should indicate in their responses whether one or more than one candidate is the preferred solution for this requirement. If more than one, we shall consider this as part of all proposals submitted for this requirement.
15. Is there any travel involved in this role and will the travel expenses be paid ?
Please refer to ‘Address where the work will take place’ section of the DOS Opportunity Notice for details of where we expect the work to be conducted. (UK based) travel required outside central London will be subject to payment of travel expenses.
16. Is the rate inclusive or exclusive of VAT?
The rate is exclusive of VAT
17. What is the total number for positions open for this role ?
Please refer to the answer to Question 14.
18. Please can you provide an email address for submitting the pricing proposal and responses to the cultural fit questions as requested?
Please forward your responses and pricing proposals in two separate pdf documents to Mark Froud (email address:
19. Please provide details of what format you want supplier’s proposals presented?
In terms of format, please provide responses of up to 200 words for each individual question in our technical and cultural fit.
20. IMPORTANT - Please read the answer below as this affects the start date of this project.
We have been advised by the Cabinet Office that user research is very limited during purdah. With this in mind, the Business Owner and Product Owner have agreed that the start date for this project shall be delayed until Monday 2nd June. Grateful if you can reflect this in your proposals. This also means that interviews if required for this shall not now take place on Monday 8th May and new dates shall be agreed at the appropriate time.