This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Wednesday 14 March 2018
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Development & Support for (RBGKEW/522)

11 Incomplete applications

9 SME, 2 large

11 Completed applications

9 SME, 2 large

Important dates

Wednesday 28 February 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 7 March 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 14 March 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We're looking for a development partner to work with us to improve (and RBG Kew's wider digital estate) over the next two years.
Latest start date
Thursday 31 May 2018
Expected contract length
2 years
Organisation the work is for
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Budget range
Up to £440,000 (£220,000 / year) - we're expecting this to cover regular development sprints plus ongoing support and maintenance.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) is a world heritage site, a leading visitor attraction and a global scientific resource for plant and fungal knowledge. Our website, serves many different purposes and is integral in showcasing everything that Kew has to offer. From helping those who wish to visit the gardens plan their visit or find out about our exciting events to sharing information on Kew’s latest scientific projects. It is therefore extremely important that we have a website that meets our users’ needs alongside supporting our organisational goals of increasing revenues and shifting perceptions of RBG Kew.
Problem to be solved
We're looking for a development partner to work with to improve and, eventually, our wider digital estate. We want to implement updates to information architecture and page designs, along with iterative improvements to help us meet user needs and business objectives. This may involve updating our CMS - we currently use Drupal 7. The partner will also need to provide ongoing support/maintenance for the site, or work with us to identify a 3rd party that can provide these services.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a potential visitor to Kew Gardens (or Wakehurst), I need to find out information about what's there, what's on and how much it costs, so I can decide if I want to visit.
As a visitor to Kew Gardens (or Wakehurst), I need to find out where the nearest (toilet/cafe/attraction is), so that I can continue to enjoy my visit.
As a botanist, I can find out about world-leading plant research happening at RBG Kew, so that I can inform my own research and identify potential institutional partnerships/collaborations.
Early market engagement
No early market engagement conducted at this stage.
Any work that’s already been done
We are working with a UX Agency to develop an improved IA, navigation/menu structure and landing page designs for We have an existing relationship with a development agency - the contract for which is coming to an end - we have worked with them to develop our current site (built with Drupal 7).
Existing team
You'll be working with RBG Kew's Digital Experience team. You main contact would be with our Product Manager, Delivery Manager, UI Designer, Content Manager, Content Producers and the Head of Digital Experience. We have no in-house development resource for at present, although this may change over time. We work closely with RBG Kew's IT team, particularly on hosting and monitoring. We are currently working with a UX Agency - we would expect our chosen supplier to work alongside them to implement updates to our website architecture and design.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The majority of the work will take place at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (London) but there may be a requirement to travel to our other garden in Wakehurst, Sussex.
Working arrangements
We are moving towards more agile ways of working and would like to explore opportunities for co-location (could be part-time) with any potential partners as from past experience, we've found this to be the best way to ensure an effective working relationship.
Security clearance

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
  • Proven evidence of Drupal 7 website development and maintenance, and development and maintenance experience with Drupal 8 and other content management systems – please give specifics.
  • Provide experience of undertaking CMS upgrades, potentially to a CMS with a content API to allow for future uncoupled development
  • Proven experience of taking an open source approach to development – no proprietary code unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g. requirement to integrate with 3rd party system
  • Experience of integrating websites with 3rd party systems for CRM, Email and Ecommerce – via API or web service
  • Experience in developing responsive websites and able to identify key considerations for mobile/desktop users
  • Evidence of taking an agile approach to development work (how do you approach the challenge of implementing agile when working in partnership with clients)
  • Experience of implementing robust testing/automated testing and continuous integration
  • Demonstrate a fast-paced approach to delivery, while still considering the bigger picture and delivering to a high standard
  • Experience of creating flexible templates that support editorial processes and workflows while maintaining the integrity of the website design
  • Experience of setting up taxonomy/tagging structures
  • Demonstrate an understanding accessible web design (to WAI AA level, with code validating to W3C specifications).
  • Confirm to the UK Government’s Cyber Essentials scheme to ‘PLUS’ level
  • Evidence of a user research/data-driven approach to development, including use of prototyping and proof of concepts
  • Experience of working alongside 3rd party suppliers to deliver successful projects (including usability and design agencies)
  • Proven experience of delivering value for money by working in partnership with clients to scope and prioritise against business/user need.
  • Demonstrate a proactive approach to maintenance and managing CMS updates (e.g. regular drupal security updates).
  • Experience of search implementation – currently have a proprietary cloud-based search service build on Solr that would need to be managed or upgraded to an alternative search solution.
  • Clear documentation in place- release process that supports critical updates while optimising uptime for website; clear development guidelines to allow for new team members to get up to speed quickly
  • Ability to work with our IT team on hosting, monitoring, security and DNS, including the facilitation of regular vulnerability and penetration tests; mitigating and remediating security issues promptly once reported.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Proven experience working with a leading visitor attraction and/or similar public body
  • Provide experience of changing to an uncoupled CMS environment
  • Evidence of using A/B testing to optimise and improve
  • Example of delivering innovative projects that make the most of emerging technologies
  • Willingness to work with us to communicate our progress to stakeholders, using inclusive, non-technical language
  • Independently accredited to ISO27001

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • An outline of what you think are the top three functionality/development risks or issues with and how you would work with us to resolve them. 10 points – Technical
  • Outline your approach to working closely with in-house designers, product managers and developers to deliver excellent products. 8 points – Technical
  • An example of where you’ve worked alongside another supplier (e.g. usability or design agency) to deliver to product development to a client. 4 points – Technical
  • A proposed roadmap for moving from Drupal 7 to 8 or another suitable open source CMS. 15 points - Technical
  • Examples of your documentation process and how you balance this with taking an agile approach to development. 5 points - Technical
  • An outline of your approach to testing (both functional and technical), which explains your approach to testing new features before they are released 5 points - Technical
  • Your preferred approach to ongoing maintenance and support. Please include hours of service and outline how priority issues are dealt with. – Technical - 5 points
  • Profiles of the team we would be dealing with on a day to day basis (please bring some of them to the presentation). – Technical - 4 points
  • References (please provide 3)– Technical - 4 points
Cultural fit criteria
  • Why you want to work with us and what you think you would bring to the partnership. 3 points
  • An outline of what you think our primary business objectives for (and associated websites) are, and how you would work with us to reach them. 4 points
  • Explain how you would challenge us with new ideas and approaches, to move our digital transformation forwards. 3 points
  • Your approach to working in partnership with your clients, particularly with collaboration, transparency and using an agile methodology (with examples) - 10 points
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Can you provide some further details in terms of requirements for the project? For example, why it is being undertaken now and what is driving the timescales for this project.
The timescale is driven by the contract with our current supplier coming up for renewal and that we have go out to tender for an ongoing development partner. We are quite a new team and feel that at the moment our digital channels are not serving us as well as they should be. Previously there wasn’t enough investment in Digital, but we now have an agreement from our executive board that Digital is a priority. We are looking for an agency that can partner with us to help develop our digital offer.
2. When is UX work currently being undertaken due to complete?
The first phase of work for this project is due to complete at the end of the first week in April. This encompasses IA work that took place over the last 6 months and we have then worked with a UX agency to develop 4 top levels wireframes based on the new IA we have developed and then some designs based on those wireframes. We will potentially do more UX work but that has not been scoped yet.
3. How far will the UX scope reach, will it include wireframes/prototypes?
Yes, it will include wireframes and prototypes. We have already tested some clickable wireframes and as we move further into design we will be doing user testing with prototypes.
4. Whilst the current site is on Drupal, is there a preference to stay with Drupal or would other Open Source CMS platforms be considered?
We would consider other Open Source CMS platforms and would like to look at moving to an uncoupled or partially coupled CMS in the future. Being on Drupal 7 currently, the migration path is of consideration as we are aware that we will have upgrade 7 eventually. If it is the right tool for us we would consider another Open Source CMS.
5. Is hosting included in the scope of the project?
No, it is not in the scope as there is a separate tender for hosting.
6. What are you looking for in terms of the cultural fit from an implementation partner?
Alongside what we put in our requirements document, we are looking for an implementation partner that understands that although we are a not for profit organisation we are also commercially driven, so ticket sales and conversion rates are extremely important. We are also looking for an agency that will partner with us, challenge us where appropriate and come up with new ideas. We’d like to partner with an agency that will work with us to do the right thing for our users and ideally an agency that could possibly co-locate with us particularly during sprints so we can work collaboratively.
7. Have you delivered agile projects like this previously?
The team is a relatively new team, who have all worked in an agile environment previously, however, agile is a new approach for RBG Kew.
8. Is there opportunity to work with Kew on building out their digital strategy during the contract?
A digital strategy is not in the scope of this contract. A lot of work internally is going into having a joined up technical strategy and digital approach. In this tender we are looking for a delivery partner not a strategy partner. We would be happy to have strategic conversations but only in the context of delivery.
9. Can you provide analytics of the current website to include pageviews per month?
In 2017, we averaged c. 1.5million pageviews / month (c.520k sessions / month), which works out at c.342k active users / month.
10. Could you please give an indication as to the size and scale of team you envisage for this work?
We would expect the size and scale of the team to flex depending on what we’re working on, but to provide a rough estimate we would envisage the delivery team for a sprint to be:
Product Manager (Kew)
Delivery Manager (Kew)
UI Designer (Kew)
Front-end developer (Agency)
Back-end developer (Agency)
Scrum master/agency PM (Agency)
QA tester (Agency – depending on testing approach)

But equally for larger pieces of work (e.g. CMS upgrade/switch) we would expect the development team to be larger.
11. What percentage of time are you expecting a development team to work on site with you at RBG Kew?
We’re open to different proposals – we’re not expecting developers to be on site with us all the time, and it may be that RBG Kew staff come to your offices instead. We’re also keen to hear about other collaboration tools you may use when you work remotely with your clients.
12. Given there is a 15 point weighting for a proposed migration, and given without privileged accounts to the website potential suppliers are left guessing somewhat as to what might be involved, are there any additional documents which can be shared that detail the functionality, taxonomy, content types, custom code currently in place, etc.?
We understand that the proposed migration may not be a fit for our requirements – we are looking to understand your approach to costing and resource a project such as this, and that you can identify potential challenges, rather than for you to respond to an exact set of requirements. Please detail any assumptions made.
13. Who is the “Business Owner” of - who is ultimately responsible for the website as far as senior management is concerned?
The Head of Digital Experience is the Business Owner of – and this is represented at Executive Board level by the Director of Marketing and Commercial.
14. Given you are very clear you want this to be an agile project, who has been appointed as “Product Owner” for the website?
We have a dedicated Product Manager for that works in the Digital Experience team.
15. If the “Business Owner” and the “Product Owner”are not the same person, what happens if they do not agree on sprint priority or deliverables? How are decisions to be made?
Priorities will be agreed between Business Owner and Product Owner at an epic-level. So the focus of the sprint will be agreed by Business Owner, but decisions to be made in-sprint will be made by Product Owner.
16. We presume from the description the in house IT team currently hosts the website to be supported. What is the change control process?
We have a separate tender going out for the hosting contract. Change process to be agreed once we have new suppliers in place.
17. How does the UX company currently engage with the incumbent development company and what kind of work do they produce (reports, suggestions, full HTML prototypes, etc.)?
There has currently been no engagement between the UX agency and the incumbent development company. We would like this to change once we have an ongoing development contract in place. Their deliverables currently include wireframes, designs, working prototype for 4 key pages and a style guide.
18. How do you currently manage sprints? Is it time and materials, e.g. you pay by the hour/day for resource required?
We have ad hoc sprints with our current development agency – where we have a backlog grooming session followed by sprint planning where we agree the user stories that will be delivered in the sprint. An estimate of time and resources is provided and agreed before the sprint starts and if things change we either rescope or agree to more resource. The cap for T&M is a yearly cap.
19. There's a common tension between the drive for features and the need to address security concerns. Given there is a specific requirement to work with pentesters, how do pentest findings work their way back into sprint planning?
We do not have processes in place for this at the moment, but we agree that it’s becoming increasingly important (particularly as we start to integrate our website with our back-end systems). We’d be happy to work with our new development agency
20. Can we access RBG's overall marketing strategy?
This is in development at present, therefore we cannot share it for the purposes of this tender.
21. Are there any plans for personalisation / targeted messaging?
In the medium-to-long term, yes.
22. What growth KPIs have been identified?
We can’t share our visitor targets, but we have ambitious visitor targets and are looking to increase the % of online ticket sales from c.40% to c.65%.
23. You mention a shift in perception, could you please expand on this?
Kew Gardens is seen by many as a beautiful garden in south-west London – which it is, but it is also a world-leading scientific institution that is working on important issues that affect us all, such as climate change and food security.
24. Do you have a preferred SLA model to adhere to and a scope for what should be covered?
We don’t have a preferred model.
25. If the site is transferred from your existing supplier what handover support will be offered (what technical documentation is in place for example?)
There is existing technical documentation that outlines the environment and hosting set-up.
26. Maintenance and support is included in the budget “we're expecting this to cover regular development sprints plus ongoing support and maintenance” Can you be more specific as this is potentially open ended?
We expect maintenance to cover security updates / patches and bug fixing – we expect this to be capped on a per month basis.
27. Could we assess web analytics for the past year in preparation for our proposal?
We cannot give access to web analytics but we have provided some top-level statistics in a previous answer
28. You mention a port to D8 MAY be required. What is driving this? When will the decision be made as it seems sensible to do this as part of the rebuild
The site is currently on Drupal 7 and we are aware that there will be a point in the future where 7 is longer be supported by Drupal and we need to future-proof against this. We agree that it probably makes sense to upgrade as part of the rebuild.
29. What is driving the headless CMS inquiry in the Skills and Experience section?
We envisage many benefits from having a headless CMS including being able redesign the site without re-implementing the CMS, having greater control over the user experience and having more responsive applications for delivering content. We also have a significant number of different web products and would like to look at how we could manage content for these more strategically.
30. Can you please describe the specific business need for a headless/decoupled CMS?
We envisage many benefits from having a headless CMS including being able redesign the site without re-implementing the CMS, having greater control over the user experience and having more responsive applications for delivering content. We also have a significant number of different web products and would like to look at how we could manage content for these more strategically.
31. You have specified no proprietary code unless there are extenuating circumstances. Can you be more specific.
We want to avoid license fees and the trouble of having to rebuild something if we move supplier – so yes, ideally no proprietary code. We would consider something alternative but we would need to have a really clear case for why the proprietary solution was required.
32. You mention a 2 year contract with equally weighted billing. What broad deliverables do you anticipate to achieving quarter by quarter?
Please clarify, we do not understand the question - where did you get equally weighted billing from
33. Who would have ultimate responsibility for signing off on the project deliverables on your side?
This lies with the Head of Digital Experience and the Product Manager for
34. We believe there is a much richer potential persona model to be explored than indicated in the RFP documentation. Should we include our thoughts on this in our response?
This is not within the scope of the this tender, we are currently looking at our segmentation and audience research approach with colleagues in Sales and Marketing