Awarded to Sopra Steria Ltd

Start date: Tuesday 1 May 2018
Value: £180,450
Company size: large
Department for Education

Alpha (B) - DfE Intervention in an Academy

6 Incomplete applications

5 SME, 1 large

14 Completed applications

9 SME, 5 large

Important dates

Friday 9 March 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 16 March 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 23 March 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
8 week Alpha(B) development of service to support DfE/ESFA intervention in academies to manage financial, management, governance or educational performance issues. Builds on completed Discovery and Alpha(A). Requires highly skilled, collaborative supplier experienced in delivering digital services that meet users' needs and GDS Digital Service Standards.
Latest start date
Monday 30 April 2018
Expected contract length
2 week inception, followed by 8 week alpha phase, to be completed by 06/07/2018
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
Estimated value approximately £200,000

About the work

Why the work is being done
DfE directly manages a growing number of Academies (c 7,500). The System Integration Programme aims to bring greater integration and sharing of data/information across 13 DfE systems currently used to administer academies. This should enable c1,500 internal systems users to concentrate on their core purpose (ensuring more good or outstanding school places in England) by reducing time spent inputting / searching for information. Future services will be delivered in phases: Alpha A (currently being delivered) and this Alpha B focus on two specific business areas; subsequent Beta phases will see development of 11 inter-related services, covering 50 business processes.
Problem to be solved
Academy intervention requires a significant information sharing and interaction between different business groups and users. Discovery outcomes provide a comprehensive starting point for the design and development of the solution. We want to improve and integrate the way we administer academies and free schools to: reduce reliance on individuals and enable greater corporate knowledge; ensure people are supported by integrated and intelligent systems to be efficient and effective in their functions; automate manual processes; and ensure reporting and analytical capability is able to compete with the best.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Academy interventions involve users across 3 DfE business groups (no external systems users). In each group Project Leads need accurate and up-to-date information on academy trust (performance, progress of applications from trust to other areas of DfE - eg sponsor/open a school, any other departmental interventions associated with trust) to make decisions and record progress/risks associated with their interventions; Project Managers need to know the number and progress of interventions in their region; Strategic Managers need data on trends, indicators and risks for the intervention programme as a whole.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
All suppliers shortlisted for evaluation will have full access to the data and materials available from Discovery (completed December 2017). The successful bidder will also have the outputs from the current Alpha A (due for completion by 31 March 2018) phase of this project. DfE has worked with Sopra Steria to deliver Discovery and Alpha A.
An Alpha A phase is currently being undertaken in one cross cutting area of our business. This Alpha B is in another cross cutting and related area of the business.
We are developing prototypes on paper/screen in Alpha A but are not writing code.
Existing team
The Product Managers (who oversaw the Discovery and Alpha (A) phases) will be supported by a Service Owner, Service Development Officer, Communications Lead, and senior Business Sponsors representing the various parts of the business involved in academy interventions (who will work alongside the supplier to facilitate access to business users). A key user group has been established to represent business users.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The supplier will split their time between DfE offices (primarily London - Great Smith Street, Westminster - but there may be the need to attend occasional meetings in the DfE offices in central Sheffield and Manchester) as well as allowing time for them to work at their own offices where required and agreed with customer in advance.
Working arrangements
This is a full-time, 5 days a week arrangement primarily based at DfE offices to support an agile delivery. Time can also be spent time at their own offices when required and agreed with the customer in advance. The development team will host agile ceremonies (stand-ups, show-&-tells, review, retrospectives and sprint planning) which will be mandatory for the Supplier staff/team, and stakeholder workshops where possible.
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
  • Recent and demonstrable experience in agile service delivery, including having been successfully assessed, in a previous project, against the GDS Alpha Service Standard
  • Recent and demonstrable experience of applying the principles of user centred design to the development of digital solutions
  • Can offer the right level of expertise, and resource the project within the specified timescales to allow fast and high quality progress
  • Can offer technical expertise to match business requirements with systems available on the market
  • Can communicate effectively to engage a wide set of users across businesses, capture and make sense of user journeys and effectively communicate the results widely, including to senior level audiences
  • Demonstrable evidence of leading an agile team as well as coaching, mentoring and upskilling people in agile techniques and roles to build capability within existing teams
Nice-to-have skills and experience
Demonstrable experience of managing the entire project lifecycle, including the planning, design, development and delivery of digital projects in line with Government Digital Service Standards

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Proposed approach and methodology
  • How approach meets user needs
  • How approach meets DfE requirements
  • Estimated timeframes for the work and experience of ensuring time bound delivery
  • How risks and dependencies are identified and proposed approaches to manage them
  • Team Structure (capacity & capability)
  • Value for Money
Cultural fit criteria
  • Ability to work transparently and collaboratively with our organisation and other suppliers (in working practice, decision making etc)
  • Ability to effectively share knowledge and expertise within the team and more widely
  • Ability to communicate effectively with colleagues with lower levels technical expertise
  • Ability to work at pace to deliver results that will make a positive impact on the business
Payment approach
Fixed price
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Work history
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Can you advise whether you have done any pre-engagement with suppliers before making this listing?
No pre-engagement has been carried out with suppliers prior to listing ‘Alpha B – Intervention in an academy’ requirements.
2. Will the supplier be responsible for the delivery management of the team and the outcomes required?
We anticipate that the supplier would be responsible for managing the delivery of the supplier team, and working in collaboration with the internal DfE team to ensure that outcomes are delivered as agreed.
3. Do you have a provisional supplier team profile in mind, to augment your existing team?
We are keen to receive suggestions as to the potential profile of the supplier team. We think this could include (but not necessarily be limited to) roles in user research, system design, technical architect.
4. What technology are you using to deliver Alpha A? Do you have a preferred technology stack?
We are reviewing technological options as part of Alpha A. We have revised the requirements to clarify that we are developing prototypes on paper/screen in Alpha A but are not writing code.
5. Does DfE consider this work to be in or out of scope of IR35?
This work is out of scope of IR35.
6. Which provider helped with the Discovery and the earlier Alpha (A) work?
The re-published requirements clarify that we worked with Sopra Steria on Discovery and Alpha A phases. No other external parties.
7. What levels of security clearance will be required for the team?
The team will be required to meet the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS)
8. You explicitly state that Alpha A & B cover two specific business areas but that Alpha A is paper prototyping only. Please confirm whether Alpha B involves the delivery of a working prototype in code, as one would naturally assume for an Alpha.
We envisage that Alpha B is likely to involve delivery of a working prototype in code.
9. Can you please clarify what you mean by the term ‘system’ in the context of question 4 in the Essential Skills section?
Systems to enable the Department to manage and track its casework / interventions, bring together a range of data and information from different internal and external sources, report MI/BI and store and/or link to information about organisations funded by DfE.
10. In question 4 of Essential Skills, can you please clarify whether you mean. COTS products, cloud service or existing DfE internal systems?
Would include cloud services and commercial off the shelf products.