Awarded to Methods Business and Digital Technology Limited

Start date: Monday 6 November 2017
Value: £228,850
Company size: SME
Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)

ACAS Early Conciliation notification: Discovery and Alpha

4 Incomplete applications

2 SME, 2 large

12 Completed applications

9 SME, 3 large

Important dates

Thursday 7 September 2017
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 14 September 2017 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 21 September 2017 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Acas require a highly skilled, collaborative supplier with experience in delivering digital services in line with the GDS Digital Service Standards to work on its discovery and alpha projects for our Early Conciliation Notification Service.
Latest start date
Monday 30 October 2017
Expected contract length
5 month to cover 6 weeks Discovery, 10 week Alpha (plus option to extend for two weeks).
East Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)
Budget range
£200,000 - £230,000

About the work

Why the work is being done
Users of the Early Conciliation Notification process need to correctly identify the appropriate point to notify Acas and the information they need to provide to do this accurately. Initial research identified that the online journey into the service causes confusion and incorrect notifications. We require a specialist agile team to work with us on both discovery and alpha phases to help achieve: reduction of incorrect notifications, increased online applications (currently 90%), improved user experience for mobile and tablet, supporting Acas’ wider aims:
Problem to be solved
Early Conciliation Notification is a legislative requirement and 23% of the 92,000 submissions a year are not appropriate for conciliation at the point that notification is made for a variety of reasons. Users need to understand the service, know if it is suitable for them, understand where to go if not, and if it is, be able to submit a notification easily and accurately.

The project must pass GDS alpha assessment and create agile capability building opportunities within Acas. Our service will not be on and will use Acas’ look and feel.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Examples: As an employee I need to submit my notification so that I can begin the legal process of making a claim to an employment tribunal.
As an employee rep I need to know how to support my client(s) so that they can make a claim/ group claim to an employment tribunal.
As an employer I would like to use ACAS to resolve an issue with my employee so that it does not go to an employment tribunal.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
User research in July 2017 found that users found inputting the correct employer name difficult.

Analysis of calls made by and to our Early Conciliation Support Officers and discussions with a group of these advisors indicates potential to reduce incorrect submissions.

Research carried out in 2015 found that users needed:
• increased support to understand the steps needed when carrying out their claim
• advice before submitting the EC Notification to help understand the merits of their case
• clear, simple English as they found employment law a complex topic
Existing team
In house team: 1 x Service Manager (P/T), 1 X Product Manager (F/T). Secondments to shadow the process/capability build: 1 x Associate Delivery manager, 1 x User researcher, 1 x Content Designer, 1 x Business Analyst. Secondment roles have limited or no agile experience
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Acas East Midlands, Apex Court, City Link, Nottingham, NG2 4LA
Working arrangements
The team are required to be co-located with the project team in Nottingham, Monday-Friday usual office hours. Acas can account for some off-site working for some team members– to be agreed. The project will operate a standard agile scrum methodology: daily stand-ups, sprint planning, sprints, demos, retrospectives, show and tells. The supplier will need to take a lead by being role model in agile ways of working, and invest time in knowledge sharing and coaching to increase the capability of Acas staff. The supplier will be responsible for recruiting user research participants as part of the bid.
Security clearance
Baseline Personnel Security Standard clearance required.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
On completion of Discovery, progress to Alpha will be subject to approval. The Authority reserve the right to terminate the contract on completion of the Discovery phase.

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
  • 1. Deliver digital services using a multidisciplinary agile team and scrum techniques (as in GDS Service Manual) that meet GDS Service Standards and have passed GDS Alpha Service Assessments. (2%)
  • 2. User research with range of users including assisted digital/low digital skills, alongside analysis of existing research/MI on the service to ensure good understanding of users and needs. (2%)
  • 3. Delivering rapid development of prototypes created iteratively via user testing - based on Discovery findings to meet user needs (including assisted digital and accessible users) (2%)
  • 4. Leading an agile team as well as coach, mentor and upskill people in agile techniques and roles to build capability within existing teams. (2%)
  • 5. Creating and delivering robust KPIs and using metrics, analytics, data and user feedback to create and prioritise key content and features. (2%)
  • 6. Reviewing of existing technical architecture and making successful recommendations for legacy systems as well as suitable alternative solutions. (2%)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • 1. Manage and proactively engage with complex internal stakeholder relationships to support digital transformation (1%)
  • 2. Delivering work on a transactional service and creating a robust information architecture and content taxonomy solution. (1%)

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Approach, methodology and estimated timeline– taking into account pre-discovery findings, further user research and testing, GDS alpha assessment and planning for beta (12%)
  • How the approach or solution will meet user needs, including assisted digital and accessible users. (12%)
  • Approach to our existing technical architecture, legacy system and technical recommendations. (7%)
  • Identification of risks and dependencies and offered approaches to manage them. (7%)
  • Project team structure (with roles and responsibilities) (8%)
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate your approach to engaging with internal senior stakeholders undergoing cultural change and how this will support project success. (5%)
  • Demonstrate how you will work transparently, collaboratively and share your approach with the Acas project team and seek actionable feedback. (5%)
  • Demonstrate how you will take responsibility to challenge the status quo and stand up for your discipline whilst involving Acas staff. (10%)
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. We've noticed that the online application just gives opportunity to complete the 'essential' and 'nice to have' skills and experience. Is that all you are assessing suppliers on at this stage? i.e. Is the proposal and cultural fit criteria to be assessed at the next stage?
The digital marketplace DOS process is made up of two stages; this first shortlist stage is where potential suppliers are assessed against essential and nice to have skills and experience. This allows for a shortlist of the top 5 highest scoring suppliers. These shortlisted suppliers are then invited to the second stage where a written proposal is required, that will include the cultural fit.
2. What roles are ACAS expecting suppliers to provide?
We don't have an agile team and have people new to agile in the roles of Service Manager, Product Manager and Associate Delivery Manager. The contractor should therefore assume that they will need to provide all the roles necessary to successfully deliver the project.
3. It is stated that there is a requirement for co-location with the project team in Nottingham. We are currently working on a similar project for a government department where we are undertaking a large percentage of the project remotely, maintaining close communication through tools such as Slack and Trello, whilst meeting with the project team office at their office, as required, for sprint review/planning sessions etc. Would the authority consider this approach for this project - rather than full-time co-location?
One of the principle outputs from the project is the transfer of knowledge from the contractors to Acas staff working on the project. On that basis we would envisage that the contractor would be on site for the majority of the week. However we wouldn't rule out flexibility and would be prepared to consider proposals as to how the contractor would manage the project and transfer knowledge successfully.