Student Loans Company

WP 11 QA & Core Systems ADM Partner

Incomplete applications

9
Incomplete applications
5 SME, 4 large

Completed applications

11
Completed applications
1 SME, 10 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Friday 29 September 2017
Deadline for asking questions Friday 6 October 2017 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Friday 13 October 2017 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Overview
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work SLC is looking to engage an expert professional Supplier to provide additional specialist application development and maintenance services and Quality Assurance capabilities as a managed service to support and accelerate the delivery of specific programme outcomes in its core systems.
Latest start date Wednesday 1 November 2017
Expected contract length 2 years
Location Scotland
Organisation the work is for Student Loans Company
Budget range Estimated budget up to £20m in First Two Years.
Work will be split up into specific statements of work to support required delivery activity with approved funding for each.

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done Our primary roles are:
• deliver financial support to eligible students pursuing higher education;
• pay Higher Education Institutions public contribution towards tuition fees for England, Wales and Northern Ireland;
• supply information needed by HMRC to ensure repayments are collected on time those due to repay under the Income Contingent Repayment Loan Scheme;
• manage direct collection of repayments for loans granted under former Mortgage Style Loan Scheme.
* undertake specific tasks for individual Devolved Administrations e.g. payment of Education Maintenance Allowances, and
* administration and payment of bursaries and scholarships to higher education institutions throughout UK.
Problem to be solved SLC is progressing several initiatives within its Core Systems development and Quality Assurance landscape, including Repayments, Digital Customer and Digital Architecture strategies, that will implement improved Repayments capabilities, modernisation of Digital Architecture, and deeper Partner engagement strategies, to support outcome based working.

This will contribute to a 3 year programme, with expected benefits in excess of £900m.

The existing development and Quality Assurance capability is provided by approximately one third in-house and two thirds supplier staff.
Who the users are and what they need to do As an internal assessor within SLC I need to, on behalf of applicants, ascertain eligibility and entitlement for repayment, payment and lending capabilities, so that the appropriate processes and capabilities are in place in support of study.
Early market engagement Yes. Information will be made available to bidders selected to shorlisting under NDA rules.
Any work that’s already been done None, multiple existing projects are underway, with a range of suppliers and partner delivery models.
Existing team The team is a multi-disciplinary team made up largely of developers, testers and business analysts supported by technical and business design leads, project management and user acceptance test consultants.The Supplier will work in a mixed team of full time SLC staff and other suppliers. There are incumbent suppliers who will continue to be in place dependent on demand levels, and the ability to supply niche skills. All parties involved in the delivery are expected to operate in a collaborative manner while adopting the processes and working practices already established within the team.
Current phase Beta

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place Glasgow (multiple sites)
Working arrangements There will be several projects (SoWs) for each phase of the delivery lifecycle, which will run in parallel. Consequently, there will be peaks and troughs where the mix of skills and volume of resource will need to be flexible to meet demands. It is envisaged that the initial SoWs will focus on Discovery and BAU activity to develop Knowledge.

The team is expected to work across multiple sites as required. Expenses will conform to SLC policies (travel and accommodation only). Relevant Supplier team members are expected to be on site 5 days per week.
Security clearance All Supplier resources must meet the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS/DS). Some roles may require a higher level (e.g. SC), to be dealt with as required.

The Supplier must provide Pre Clearance of Staff before onboarding.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions Proposed individuals who are non British/EEA nationals must either be in possession of leave to remain with no restrictions on their time to live/work in the UK or their leave to remain must be valid for the duration of this award and permit work in this capacity. Monthly financial reporting reconciled to a SFIA skill matrix. Monthly expense reconciliation. Fortnightly and Monthly progress reporting against planned deliverables and fortnightly supplier KPI/SLA reporting.

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Skills and experience
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Essential skills and experience
  • 1. The Supplier must evidence experience of delivering services and solutions in the public sector and Financial Services Market of similar size and complexity, specifically:
  • - Core application development and maintenance (ADM) Service (including DevOps, testing, Project Management and QA) sourced optionally (and at the client's direction) from onshore, offshore or nearshore capabilities.
  • - Demand Management, Resource Management, Planning, Change management, Delivery performance management, Quality Management, Account Management, Knowledge Transfer etc. Governance Services (included at no additional cost to SLC)
  • -Full service operation - E2E application delivery and management (including design,test and architecture services)
  • -Transition of existing activities with no disruption to project delivery; Transition Service; Handover to SLC team or alternate supplier to Maintain on completion of project engagements
  • -Elicitation and informing strategic options, solution design, solution architecture - Strategy and Design Service
  • -Programme, project and delivery quality management - Programme, Project and Delivery Management Service
  • -Legacy Migration and Remediation Service (including service orientation of message based systems); Migration of applications and services to the Cloud; Cloud Migration Service
  • -Data Management, data integration, data modelling, data architecture, data integrity, database management, data mining, big data - Data Service
  • -Multi-platform, multi-operating system, multi-database environments including open source, Cloud, on-premise, noSQL etc - Platform Services
  • -Service design, service management, service integration, end user support, training, end-user provisioning, solution integration, service tooling, security tooling etc - Solution Integration Service
  • -Inbound and Outbound communications technologies (including scanning, workflow, electronic correspondence, document storage, document formatting)
  • 2. The Supplier must evidence ability to drive forward existing complex architectures, balancing competing demands of challenging delivery, with effective management of technical debt, and achieving key strategic objectives.
  • 3. The Supplier must evidence experience of working on systems heavily integrated into a complex legacy estate, involving heterogenous platforms and different delivery methodologies.
  • 4. The Supplier must provide evidence of a track record of building complex microservice, service orientated and event based architectures
  • 5. The Supplier must evidence experience of operating at scale and effectively prioritising and managing significant backlogs of work across a number of Agile delivery teams, including knowledge sharing/transfer.
  • 6. The Supplier must evidence operating in a DevOps culture to deliver effective Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, infrastructure automation, test automation and application monitoring leading to tangible business benefits.
  • 7. The Supplier must evidence working in a partnership, in particular assisting SLC to mentor and train graduate and apprentice resources.
  • 8. The Supplier must evidence how it drives long term retention of UK resident resources to achieve quality and consistency of delivery whilst meeting HMG security requirements.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • 1. The supplier must evidence experience and challenges of onshore development vs near-shore development vs offshore development with blended approaches, and highlight successful models.
  • 2. The Supplier must evidence experience and challenges of Development and Architecture Approaches: SOA, Microservice Architecture, RESTful Web service development etc
  • 3. The Supplier must evidence experience and challenges of Database Development: Relational databases ( e.g. Oracle 10i, 12c), noSQL databases (e.g. MongoDb).
  • 4. The Supplier must evidence experience and anticipated or previous challenges of SLC's Development Languages: PL/SQL, Java, ( and its development frameworks such as Spring, React, Angular etc).
  • 5.The Supplier must confirm that it will adhere to Agile principles, align to the Government Digital Services (GDS) Digital By Default Service Standards

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 5
Proposal criteria
  • The Supplier must provide evidence of ability and experience of successfully providing services to the following areas in delivering complex solutions to the public sector in policy driven environments.
  • The Supplier should also describe how it will provide the services below and where applicable include details of relevant services using alternative delivery locations (local delivery centres/onshore/nearshore/offshore.
  • 1) Delivery: Core application development and maintenance (ADM) Service (including DevOps, testing, Project Management and QA) sourced optionally (and at the client's direction) from onshore, offshore or nearshore capabilities.(15%)
  • - Demand Management, Resource Management, Planning, Change Management, Delivery Performance Management, Quality Management, Account Management, Knowledge Transfer etc - Governance Services
  • - Transition of existing activities with no disruption to project delivery - Transition Service
  • - Elicitation and informing strategic options, solution design, solution architecture - Strategy and Design Service
  • - Programme, project and delivery quality management - Programme and Delivery Management Service
  • 2) Technical: Legacy Migration and Re-mediation Service - Migration of applications and services to the Cloud - Cloud Migration Service (10%)
  • -Inbound and Outbound communications technologies (including scanning, workflow, electronic correspondence, document storage, document formatting)
  • - Data Management, data integration, data modelling, data architecture, data integrity, database management, data mining, big data - Data Service
  • - End User Provisioning Services
  • - Multi-platform, multi-operating system, multi-database environments including open source, Cloud, NoSQL etc - Platform Services
  • 3) Service: Service design, service management, service integration, end user support, training, solution integration, service tooling, security tooling etc - Solution Integration Service (5%)
  • 4) Security: Authentication, encryption, identity and access management, security clearances, data handling etc - Security Service (5%)
  • 5) The Supplier must provide evidence of transition planning, management, working with existing suppliers without disrupting delivery, and their high level approach to the Discovery phases for these activities (20%)
  • 6) The Supplier must evidence ability to drive forward existing complex architectures, balancing competing demands of challenging delivery schedules with effective management of technical debt and achieving strategic objectives. (10%)
  • 7) The Supplier must evidence experience of working on heavily integrated complex legacy estate, involving heterogenous platforms and different delivery methodologies, and describe their approach to ensure success. (10%)
  • 8) The Supplier must provide evidence of a track record of building complex microservice, service orientated and event based solutions, and describe their approach. (10%)
  • 9) The Supplier must evidence experience of operating at scale and effectively prioritising and managing significant backlogs of work across a number of agile delivery teams, including knowledge sharing/transfer. (5%)
  • 10) The Supplier must evidence operating in a DevOps culture to deliver effective Continuous Integration/Delivery, infrastructure/test automation and application monitoring leading to the delivery of tangible business benefits. (10%)
Cultural fit criteria
  • 1. Describe your management processes and mitigation's for poor service delivery, escalation processes, staff handover, turnover, quality maintenance and corrective actions that will deliver this managed service.
  • 2. Describe how good performance will be incentivised to ensure milestones are delivered on time.
  • 3. Describe how outcome based services will be managed and tracked throughout their teams.
  • 4. Describe how knowledge management and knowledge transfer processes will be operated
  • 5. Describe your resourcing strategy for engagement whilst delivering the service including composition of workforce (eg % of associates/permanent etc) and how this may change overtime.
  • 6. Describe your engagement strategy for working in multi-partner environment, and working in as sub partner to inhouse teams, especially in Design Leadership
  • 7. Describe how you will partner with SLC to support training and mentoring of new SLC hires, sharing of induction programmes/onboarding etc.
  • 8. Describe your retention strategies for top performers,technical career paths for associates,promotion policies and career expectation management
  • 9. Identify the overall attrition levels that can be expected and your policy for rotation of resources between different client accounts
  • 10. For your resources that are multicultural, how the vacation profiles will be arranged with different holiday priorities, such as Diwali
  • 11. Describe your security process, controls and assurance for any client data, when work will be done in non SLC locations.
  • 12. Describe how you will engage and manage other third party suppliers or independent contractors to cover niche skills or time constraints, in order to provide flex in the workforce
  • 13. Describe your Account and Relationship management practices, and approach for delivering this service.
Payment approach Time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

50%

Cultural fit

20%

Price

30%

Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. What percentage of your current development work is performed near-shore and off-shore? No work is currently performed in a near shore or offshore model, however work is conducted across different SLC centres in UK.
2. Are you primarily looking for an off-shore development partner with a presence in the UK? A capable partner will be able to provide resources in home, near shore and offshore locations on a 'best fit' for the delivery being undertaken.
3. Can SLC provide a suggested timeline and monetary value for the proposed work packages? SLC will work with the Partner on a range of Statements of Work of differing values depending on delivery requirements over the next few years. Estimated overall contract value has already been indicated.
4. Can SLC please clarify on the specific ‘niche skills’ that SLC will be looking for? It is not possible to specify all niche skills likely to be required over the coming years. SLC is however looking to standardise its architecture and take mainstream choices so the requirement for niche skills will be minimised.
5. Can SLC provide suggested resourcing figures and a split of different roles eg. development, test, project management, service management, application maintenance? Overall figures can not be predicted as they will depend on funding over the coming years and the success of the partnership. Splits between disciplines will be broadly inline with industry standards.
6. 1. Are you looking to introduce a new, additional supplier to your partner base? 1. SLC are looking to move to a partnership model this may be with a new or existing supplier.
7. It's indicated the engagement model requires Supplier team members in Glasgow 5 days per week, and that onshore/nearshore/offshore development will be considered. Please confirm if SLC are open to these models and the extent of their current use. As stated SLC is looking for a partner that can work in UK, near shore and offshore locations. All current work is done in UK.
8. What is the expected schedule/profile for the on-boarding of teams/roles over the contract's initial months? This will be determined by funding profiles for SLC from UK Government and prioritisation of activities.
9. Will the supplier be responsible for projects/services/outcomes delivery management? A partnership will use multiple delivery techniques, one of which will be outcome based working.
10. What extent will the supplier be responsible for/or able to bring their experience to, the technical architecture of the projects/services? SLC will maintain accountability for it's architecture. In a partnership it would be natural for input to be solicited from the partner to the architecture evolution.
11. BPSS/DS and SC standards can be time consuming to achieve especially for overseas nationals. Are SLC considering any grace period or breathing space for achieving standards? Security standards are a requirement and there will be no grace period for achieving these standards.
12. Just to clarify, this is not just a ‘Body-Shopping Service’? This is a Partnership service working with SLC to deliver specialist Application Development and Maintenance Services and Quality Assurance requirements as a Managed Service. It is a 'contracted out' partnership that will use multiple delivery techniques to provide services to meet SLC's requirements to deliver change.
13. The notice indicates that SLC are looking to the supplier to provide a form of managed service encompassing different work-streams including: App/Dev/QA and Support. Can SLC confirm that the supplier is expected to provide testing/QA and support against their own APP/Dev deliverables or are they (or SLC) expected to contract these elements to another supplier to avoid a conflict of interest? SLC are looking for an end to end partner, who generally will both develop and quality assure their own deliverables but should equally be able to work in mixed teams scenarios with SLC or other suppliers.
14. SLC state that the Supplier will work in mixed teams of full time SLC staff and other suppliers. If the APP/DEV and support are provided by different suppliers, where does SLC envisage responsibility for agreeing and managing SLAs rest? – Similarly, how will SLA’s work in the event that a single supplier delivers both work streams within the same outcome deliverable? Outcome based SLA's will be used where the strategic partner has full accountability for a deliverable, in mixed mode working a the strategic partner develops their knowledge of SLC then responsibility for the quality elements of any SLA will reside with SLC if they can not be apportioned without unproductive overhead
15. Are there any restrictions on SMEs with turnover less than the project value being considered? No restrictions have been set with regards to turnover. However, SLC expects any potential supplier to be able to demonstrate the necessary breadth and depth of experience, capability and capacity to deliver this requirement and will assess accordingly.
16. Will you be considering Microsoft Dynamics as a technology solution to resolve your particular business problem? SLC do not see this as a relevant question to this requirement.
17. Would SLC allow two SME's to make a joint bid? SLC expects any potential supplier to be able to demonstrate the necessary breadth and depth of experience, capability and capacity to deliver this requirement. The same assessment criteria will be applied to a all bids. In the event of a joint bid there must be one lead supplier currently on the DOS 2 framework.
18. What is the transition timescales? Transition will occur over 2-3 years and depend on business demand as well as a partners ability to supply required skill set and take ownership of outcome based work.
19. How much time have you allowed for Knowledge transfer into the new supplier? Knowledge transfer will be the responsibility of the partner, and not an additional cost to SLC. Transfer will need to occur from both SLC employees and other suppliers. This will all be a non billable investment cost for the strategic partner.
20. Is there an Enterprise / Strategic PMO framework that programmes need to adhere to within SLC? Yes, SLC has a framework called P2P, based on standard Prince methodology.
21. Is there an overarching test policy and organisational test strategy within the SLC? Yes, and SLC is open to working with the strategic partner to develop this further.
22. What frameworks are you currently using to deliver the programme, i.e. Waterfall, Agile, DevOps, Hybrid? SLC currently has a blend of delivery techniques operating within its P2P framework, agile, waterfall, mini waterfall, devops are all in operation.
23. If Agile/DevOps, what is your current level of maturity? Different levels of maturity exist across delivery teams.
24. What is your current level of maturity in testing? SLC has not been formally assessed for a level of testing maturity for several years so can not answer this further.
25. What programme / project methodology / systems do you utilse to manage delivery? SLC has a framework called P2P, based on standard Prince methodology. SLC currently has a blend of delivery techniques operating within its P2P framework, agile, waterfall, mini waterfall, devops are all in operation.
26. Will the programme / project managers need to take on in flight projects? It may be that resources need to work on or take on in-flight projects, these may be project managers in certain circumstances but as an ADM agreement this is not a core requirement.
27. Will PM’s be assigned to specific projects or work across various workstreams? PM's are generally assigned to specific projects, but on occasions may work multiple smaller pieces of activity.
28. Will access to key stakeholders be readily available for PM’s to engage throughout the delivery cycle? PM's will work through SLC governance models that include programme managers and portfolio managers, this route will enable any level of engagement required for successful delivery.
29. Will SME resource / knowledge be available to support the design of the solutions? PM's will work through SLC governance models that include programme managers and portfolio managers, this route will enable any level of engagement required for successful delivery.
30. What is the size of the current test team? Testing is devolved into delivery teams, with the addition of an overall centre of excellence concept and a user acceptance team. Overall around 100 resources are supporting this activity.
31. Do you have dedicated test environments in place to support test execution? Yes, SLC has a standard suite of environments that enable a route to live.
32. Do you have defined testing standards that the supplier must adhere to? Yes, SLC testing standards are set through its Centre of excellence for testing (testing services) team, these standards must be used. SLC is open to evolving these standards in partnership.
33. If the SLC does have testing standards then is this managed through a test centre of excellence? Yes, known as Testing services.
34. What test techniques are currently being used to deliver testing? SLC is doing standard testing in system, operations and user acceptance. This is automated in some scenarios but SLC is looking to expand this capability.
35. Are all phases of testing in scope for the programme, i.e. functional, automation and non-functional testing? Yes.
36. What test tools do have in place for test management, test automation and performance testing? SLC uses HP's testing suite and some additional tools like mingle and Jeera.
37. What is the percentage split across current in-flight projects in testing and future projects that are/will be in test preparation? SLC do not see this as a relevant question to this tender.
38. Are the in-house resources that are currently support testing to be transitioned into the quality assurance service? SLC does not understand what Quality Assurance service is being referenced, this is a partnership model, with testing teams embedded in delivery teams for agile working. SLC is not looking for any QA factory model.
39. Are the current test team split across various sites or are they co-located with the project teams? Teams are primarily in two sites in Glasgow.
40. There is a request for the supplier to assist the SLC in mentoring and training graduate and apprentice resources, so could you please confirm how many would be assigned to the quality assurance aspect of the service? Around ten graduate per year, this requirement is important to SLC maintaining a long term skill base.
41. Is there any existing staff that can be TUPE to the new supplier? We are unable to provide a definitive response at this stage given the multiple 3rd party supplier engagement model currently deployed. Whilst we do not anticipate TUPE to apply, this would be for the successful bidder and other respective organisations to discuss if necessary. It is not the current view that any SLC employees will be affected by this new arrangement.
42. We have an offshore development facility, are we allowed to bring over resource to the UK to work on this project and will they be allowed to be Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS/DS) cleared? Offshore, offsite and onshore options should be provided if vendor assesses these are potential  viable options for service provision to SLC.  All security, training, probity and associated checks for any resources being suggested to work on service expectations inclusive off visa and regulatory standards are the responsibility of the vendor.
43. Can you confirm the timetable for the next stages of this procurement – stage two and target interview dates please. This will depend on the number of responses received. However, we anticipate having a shortlist by end of next week. The suppliers selected to this stage will be required to provide a written proposal to be supported by presentation. We anticipate scheduling for this towards the end of next week but presentations like to commence w/c 6th Nov. We will advise in due course what additional information will be required.
44. We understand the requirements for “Workflow” to be in the context of a document management system, for example routing a document for someone to approve. This is currently correct, but SLC may look for a wider more generic workflow solution in future.
45. We understand “electronic correspondence” to be in the context of document management system for example notifying someone via an email that a document that they have expressed interest on has just been updated. This is currently correct, but in future SLC will be looking to broaden this definition to all forms of correspondance or contact
46. We understand “document storage” to mean Document Management System (DMS) That is currently correct.
47. Can you please elaborate on the requirement “document formatting” an example / use case would be useful. This relates to Doc1 functionality.