Welsh Government

Discovery Stage to establish future delivery options for student finance in Wales

Incomplete applications

11
Incomplete applications
7 SME, 4 large

Completed applications

12
Completed applications
7 SME, 5 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Friday 12 January 2018
Deadline for asking questions Friday 19 January 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Friday 26 January 2018 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Overview
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work We require a consultant with experience in discovery projects to work with the Welsh Government, specialist stakeholders and Student Loans Company to provide a high-level understanding of student finance user needs, provide information on how the existing service operates and put forward proposals for potential alternative models of delivery.
Latest start date Thursday 1 March 2018
Expected contract length 6-9 months
Location No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for Welsh Government
Budget range £80,000.00 excluding Vat

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done For a number of years, the operating model and supporting infrastructure and ICT systems within Student Loans Company have struggled to cope with the demands and increasing complexity of operations involved in supporting four separate UK governments. In 2016, an independent review was completed, providing advice on alternative options for the delivery of Student Finance Wales. The primary role of the system is to:
• deliver financial support to eligible students pursuing higher and further education;
• pay Higher Education Institutions public contribution towards tuition fees.
Problem to be solved Discovery stage for the design and build a bilingual, flexible, streamlined, interactive and online digital student finance system to process and assess higher education grant and loan applications. Currently process is partially paper based.
Investigate and set out the option of building a Welsh student finance system (in collaboration with a strategic partner).
Ensure control mechanisms are in place, accountable to Welsh Ministers, that will deliver Welsh required outcomes.
• ensure the service is modern, delivers user needs and is value for money.
• ensure the heart of the service is located in Wales, possibly building on the existing operation."
Who the users are and what they need to do Mainly Students (including disabled students) but also Parents, Partners and Practitioners. As a student I need to:
• understand what student finance is available;
• know what level and type of student finance I am eligible for;
• know how to apply for student finance and what evidence I need to provide;
• be able to provide evidence easily and quickly;
• communicate quickly and effectively with the funding body;
• track the progress of m application; and
• receive student funding as quickly as possible to enable me to undertake my studies.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done In 2016, Ed Lester (ex-CEO of Student Loans Company (SLC)) was procured by Welsh Government to carry out a review. He provided advice on alternative options for the delivery of Student Finance Wales (SFW). A combined Options Appraisal / Strategic Outline Case proposed a preferred option for a Discovery Phase (Option 1- build a Welsh system (in collaboration with a strategic partner)).
Discovery Phase Report is not published but can be made available to the succesful Supplier.
Existing team Welsh Government - 2 members of the Higher Education SLC Sponsorship Team.
Current phase Discovery

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place Wales - Cardiff and Llandudno Junction; England - Darlington and London, Scotland - Glasgow
Working arrangements It is anticipated that day-to-day contact will be via telephone and/or email, as required. The contractor will need to visit the Welsh Government’s offices in Cardiff for meetings, as agreed. The contractor will send fortnightly updates by email to the Client during the fieldwork stages. Travel costs should be included in the overall rate.
Security clearance ISO27001, Cyber Essentials:
A Security Aspects Letter will be issued. The Letter sets out additional security requirements which supplement the Cyber Essentials Certificate.
The contractor will also need security clearance from the Student Loans Company. ICT contractors with admin access to servers require SC clearance.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions The Supplier shall be required to provide an up-to-date Cyber Essentials certificate prior to the commencement of work.

The Supplier shall be required to provide a signed copy of the Welsh Government SecurityAspects Letter (Available upon request).

The Supplier shall be ISO27001 certified.

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
  • experience designing services for users with low digital literacy
  • experience of proposing technical solutions
  • experience of combining user research, service design and developer expertise
  • experience designing services for a wide range of digital skills
  • an understanding of how to meet the needs of a diverse range of users
  • experience in leading and supporting business case development, cultural transformation and service redesign
  • evidence experience of delivering services and solutions in the public sector and Financial Services Market of similar size and complexity.
  • Evidence of successfully implementing and supporting digital transactional processing systems to public sector clients
  • experience of user experience (UX) design
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • an understanding of student data and the potential for data linkage between any new system and existing data systems
  • experience of database development
  • understanding of Welsh Public Sector Welsh Language requirements
  • experience of developing multi-lingual systems and/ or applications

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 5
Proposal criteria
  • How the overall approach and methodology meets the requirements
  • How well the approach or solution meets our organisation’s policy or goal
  • How well the proposal identifies the risks and dependencies and offers approaches to manage them
  • Details of resource capacity and delivery team structure
  • How the proposal demonstrates value for money
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation and other interested parties
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members
  • Can work with clients with low technical expertise
Payment approach Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

60%

Cultural fit

15%

Price

25%

Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Will the successful Discovery bidder be allowed to tender for any subsequent implementation (alpha/beta/delivery) phase? Yes.
2. Are you expecting the contractor to work 5 days a week on this project? There is no particular expectation regarding the number of days a week spent on the project. We would expect each proposal to set out the necessary resources and time commitments needed to achieve the work within the set budget and timeframe.
3. You’ve posted this as a team opportunity in outcomes. However it is written as 1 person will be doing this work, is this correct? The budget to timescale ratio backs this up too The opportunity is not restricted to a particular size of company, but the successful bidder will need to show that they have the resources available to complete the work to the stated timescales and within budget.
4. Can we see the security aspects letter? We are unable to publish the Security Aspects Letter via the Digital Marketplace, therefore we will provided a copy as part of the proposal pack.
5. Will there be SLC technical team support to enable the technical proposals? There won't be a dedicated SLC technical team, but SLC the successful contractor will have access to SLC teams and SLC will help in any way possible. SLC will need to agree a schedule, according to when their various teams and resources are available.
6. The problem statement highlights a need to investigate the option to build a new Welsh digital finance system. The requested skills and experience have a focus on software development and delivery. Are you looking for expertise to examine and understand the implications of a new Welsh digital-based public service (of which technology is only one component) or are you looking for a provider who will subsequently develop and implement code? We are looking for someone to understand how the system operates now, how new systems could operate and interact with the SLC systems (where necessary) and then to understand the implications of setting up new systems.
7. Do you anticipate the work being completed by one consultant or a team? The opportunity is not restricted to a particular size of company, but the successful bidder will need to show that they have the resources available to complete the work to the stated timescales and within budget.
8. In the Problem to be Solved section, you have stipulated that the chosen supplier should ensure the heart of the service is located in Wales, possibly building on the existing operation. What do you mean by this? Do you mean that the service relates to a Welsh audience, with Welsh companies/services or something else? "Student Finance Wales (SFW) is a service provided by the Student Loans Company (SLC) on behalf of the Welsh Government. The SFW service is based in Llandudno Junction, Wales. SFW is responsible for processing, assessing and paying student finance for applications from Welsh students.

There is no preference for the location of the Supplier to deliver this discovery phase, or any possible future work. There should be a focus on the specific issues and requirements of Welsh Citizens."
9. In the brief, under the problem to be solved, you mention that the solution ensures control mechanisms are in place, accountable to Welsh Ministers, that will deliver Welsh required outcomes. What control mechanisms to you have mind? All solutions should have controls in place to minimise risk and verify compliance with policy and budgetary requirements. The controls should manage risks that could affect the successful operation of the system. Rules should be applied to the solution relating to eligibility for student finance support.
10. Following the closing date for applications on 26/01/2018, what are the activities and timetable for the next stage of the procurement, to allow a project start by the 1st March 2018? The panel will complete a sift of the applications received by 1 February 2018. Those selected to progress to the assessment stage will be invited to present their final proposals. Proposals will be expected within 14 days. The successful contractor will be appointed by 28 February 2018.
11. Are there any key milestones e.g. ministerial briefings during the 6-9 month period that need to be considered? No.
12. Is a key output from Discovery an HM Treasury 5 case model? To proceed, an alternative delivery system would need to adhere to the HM Treasury 5 case model.
13. A strategic partner is mentioned. Have they been selected or is it part of Discovery to select them? If selected, can you clarify who they are and their role? No partner has been identified or selected. Selection of a delivery partner would be part of a separate procurement exercise.
14. What consultation would be expected with stakeholders such as student organisations e.g. NUS Wales, students at main institutions (noting that much of the Discovery period takes place over the summer months) We would expect proposals to include high level discussions with a small number of SFW customers to identify user requirements. Existing SLC Stakeholder Groups could also be consulted.
15. What involvement would be expected from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland? None expected
16. This work is described as the preferred Option 1 of the options arising from the Ed Lester review. What other options are being progressed? Is this option part of a larger business case? Can we have a copy of this review? No other options are being progressed at this time. The report can be shared with the successful bidder only.
17. Change of Opportunity Wording from:
"For a number of years, the operating model and supporting infrastructure and ICT systems within Student Loans Company have struggled to cope with the demands and increasing complexity of operations involved in supporting four separate UK governments."
To:
“The operating model, supporting infrastructure and ICT systems within Student Loans Company are under increasing pressure from the demands and complexity of operations involved in supporting four separate UK governments. The SLC is addressing this through its 2020 Strategy.”
18. Change of Opportunity Wording from:
“Discovery Stage to establish future delivery options for student finance in Wales”
To:
“Discovery Stage to consider future delivery options for student finance in Wales”
19. What is the process for getting security clearance from the Student Loans Company? Is this required if the contractor already has e.g. SC clearance? SLC will request the contractor's clearance ID and validate it with the appropriate body.
20. What other systems will the Welsh student finance system need to integrate with - e.g. existing student loans system(s)? Existing student grant, loans and repayment systems as well as the existing HMPO (Identity and Passport Service) and HMRC links. Any new system will also need to have the capability of working with Welsh Government finance and IT systems, which will include any new finance and IT Systems that may be developed (in future). We would expect the discovery work itself to identify the links needed.