Awarded to Pilot Works

Start date: Monday 2 October 2017
Value: £100,000
Company size: SME
Office for National Statistics

Qualitative Research Participants - Office for National Statistics

2 Incomplete applications

1 SME, 1 large

4 Completed applications

4 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Friday 23 June 2017
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 30 June 2017 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 7 July 2017 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
ONS is undergoing a major digital transformation involving development of online products to gather data from responders and ensuring that the collection instruments (i.e. surveys) are easy to administer.

We need help:
• Identifying, contacting, scheduling, coordination of participants for user/qualitative research activities
• Managing incentives
• Managing participant attendance
Research dates
We do not have exact dates but research will likely begin in August
Organisation the work is for
Office for National Statistics
Budget range
Circa £100,000 as a call-off contract as needed during the contract period. There may be scope for calling-off additional work during the operating period of the contract.

About the work

Early market engagement

About the research

Description of your participants
User participants will be defined for each project and a specification of requirements will be sent generally with at least two weeks’ notice of a planned research session (NB: a shorter notice may be given).

We will need participants that represent a varied demography (age, gender, ethnicity) and digital capability and may focus on particular types of user for some rounds of research. Occasionally there will be a need to recruit against other criteria e.g. economic status, level of education etc. Some research will also have very specific user requirements around gender and sexual identity. Participants should be willing to be audio recorded/filmed so the research can be used to improve digital services (NB: the need for recording will be specified in each round of research).

They may also be a need for access to large panels of users for specific testing such as tree tests on website redesigns.

Recruitment methods should be appropriate to the target audience. E.g. those with low digital skills should not be recruited using online means.
Assisted digital and accessibility requirements
We would like to the supplier to be able to find participants with a wide range of digital skill levels and accessibility requirements, including those that use screen readers and other specialist assistive equipment and software.

Due to the nature of participants with low digital skills, we would expect the winning bidder to be able to recruit these users in a non-digital format i.e. on street/face to face recruitment.
Research plan
This contract will be supplying participants to multiple projects.

Research activities are including (but not limited to) in-depth interviewing, focus groups, usability testing and cognitive interviewing.
Research location
Various locations - Research locations will vary to fit the requirement. Some research will take place in the ONS lab located in the ONS offices in Newport or the ONS offices at Fareham and London. Other research may be on location in any part of the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Access restrictions at location
For any research being conducted at ONS offices specifically, participants will need to bring a form of photographic identification.
Number of research rounds
Multiple research rounds for several projects (Disc, Alpha, Beta, Live stages)
Number of participants per round
Participant numbers per round will vary depending on the stage of each project. Likely to be between 5 and 12 (for usability and focus group research). For some rounds of research (e.g. in-depth interviewing and cognitive testing) the requirement could be as high as 25 – 30 participants.
How often research will happen
We do not have exact dates but it is likely the research will take place every 2-4 weeks, there is a possibility that it could be more frequent than this or there could be a longer period in between the research as well.

There will be a need for weekday evenings with the potential for weekends as well. Requirement for weekend research to be determined during each research round. Some research will take place during business hours/ throughout the day also.
Evening or weekend research
  • Weekday evenings
  • Weekends

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions

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
  • Recruit participants who are representative of desired user groups and screen users based on specific criteria sometimes within short time frames (1-2 week window) using solid screening processes. (5)
  • Provide a single point of contact to reliably respond to communications by email or phone within 1 hour to 1 day (depending on the scenario) throughout the engagement (1)
  • Recruit participants at short notice with a short turnaround and ability to replace unsuitable participants (2)
  • Arrange and manage participants, ensuring their attendance at the research (2)
  • Recruit 'Assisted Digital' participants, people who are digitally excluded or have low digital skills including those with accessibility needs. (5)
  • Recuit participants for field (on site workplace) interviews and for in home depth research when required (2)
  • Handle research incentives for participants (2)
  • Recruit users for face to face usability testing (2)
  • Recruit users for remote usability testing (including briefing and checking) (2)
  • Recruit users for depth and cognitive interviewing (2)
  • Identify risks you can see and how you propose mitigating against them (1)
  • • Have experience recruiting participants from multiple regions across the UK (4)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
• Previous experience of working in the public sector (1)

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Approach to managing and scheduling participants, identifying and managing risks and contingency plans to ensure sufficient recruitment (2)
  • Method for recruiting a representative sample of participants with the demography outlined above (5)
  • Demonstrate a method to identify and recruit participants with low digital literacy and difficult to reach participants (5)
  • Provide profiles and information for selected participants in each round (1)
  • Estimated timeframes for recruitment (2)
  • Breakdown of recruitment costs both in lab, at third party locations, remote testing and in-home inclusive of incentives (2)
  • How will you work with ONS to ensure we have visibility and confidence that we are getting representative participants (2)
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Reference
  • Interview
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence






Questions asked by suppliers

1. You mention about supplying research participants for multiple projects. Does it mean there could be 10 projects requiring participants on the same date? So does it mean we would need to recruit 120 research participants compared to just 12 is it were single project?
Yes, it could be that one team may have a project running at the same time as another team but we may potentially be looking for different types/ criteria of participants. It is unlikely that it would be as many as ten projects being run at the same time. NB: this contract is serving different parts of the office.
2. The descriptions doesn't provide the total number of research participants needed. It provides a ball-park figure of £100,000. Are you saying it is a fixed price and any number of participants can be requested for this price? It could be 30 or 100 or 1000.
ONS will call on this contract as and when the research requires it to - we do not have a total number of participants in mind as it depends on the research plans of the various parts of the office. However the maximum we can spend as part of this contract is £100k worth of participants. The usage of the contract will be monitored internally to ensure we do not overspend. We have stipulated the likely volumes required for the different types of research - these could be running concurrently.