Awarded to Hippo Digital Limited

Start date: Monday 16 July 2018
Value: £1,600,000
Company size: SME
Education and Skills Funding Agency

National Careers Service Digital Development

5 Incomplete applications

2 SME, 3 large

23 Completed applications

19 SME, 4 large

Important dates

Thursday 5 April 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 12 April 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 19 April 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
A discovery phase for the National Careers Service specifically for a citizen user need to "understand myself" in order to inform decisions about their career. This is a procurement of a complete team that will need to have one (possibly subcontracted) member with expertise in occupational psychology and psychometrics.
Latest start date
Monday 4 June 2018
Expected contract length
The discovery will be 2 months, but further phases may extend another 12 months
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Education and Skills Funding Agency
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
The National Careers Service is implementing a new operating model based on investments in design and digital tool developments to enable more customers to self-serve.

A key user need is for users to understand their own skills, interests and motivations in order to be able to review suitable career options.

We have a tool on the current site "Skills Healthcheck" that does not meet GDS standards and which is based on third party IPR for which the licence expires in December 2018. This needs to be replaced and open source software options will be considered.
Problem to be solved
We need to elaborate and confirm the user need "to understand myself" both for end users directly and for intermediaries, e.g. careers adviser, teacher, parent.

We need to understand the options for meeting these user needs. As part of the team we will need a subject matter expert in occupational psychology and psychometrics to inform the options and their relative merits.

We need to understand how the options fit within the wider customer journey, including non-digital channels.

We need to understand whether a subsequent alpha phase is needed and what the aim and scope of that will be.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a citizen of any age (13+) in England in need of careers advice...
I need to understand my skills so that I can make an informed decision about my career
I need to understand my personality so that I can make an informed decision about my career
I need to understand my values so that I can make an informed decision about my career
I need to understand my motivations so that I can make an informed decision about my career
I need to understand my interests so that I can make an informed decision about my career
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Comprehensive work done on the wider customer needs and likely journey.

We have developed a Target Operating Model for the wider service based on the understanding of customer needs.

We have digital teams working on different parts of the journey and at different phases. Find a Career is about to enter public beta; Manage my career is still in a discovery.

Find a career is about finding and understanding different types of careers.

Manage my career is about navigating careers advice service offers and tools effectively.

Understand myself provides an opportunity for users to understand what suits them.
Existing team
Currently we have:

a BAU support team maintaining the live service;
a beta development team developing "Find a career"
a discovery team looking at "Manage my career"
a service design team maintaining the target operating model and supporting procurements of area and national careers adviser services

These are teams rich in contractors sourced from different service providers.

There are permanent staff who procure and manage the wider National Careers Service.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Cheylesmore House,
Quinton Road
Working arrangements
We want the team to be co-located with other digital teams on-site in Coventry. This discovery may lead to the development of a digital product that is part of a wider digital service as part of the National Careers Service. There is also data that needs to be shared across different parts of the customer journey. There will be a weekly scrum of scrums to coordinate dependencies. This will also have to be constructed on the same azure/ sitefinity platform as the wider digital service and supported by a common DevOps team.
Security clearance

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Standard DOS framework and call-off terms and conditions. Day rates should be inclusive of any costs of travelling to and working from the base location. The cost of travel to other locationss while performing ESFA work must be pre-approved by the project manager and will be covered as per the ESFA travel and subsistence policy and will need to be invoiced by the supplier with supporting receipts.

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
  • Provide a multidisciplinary team able to run a discovery through to completion, including successful assessment by GDS
  • Be able to mobilise a team to work in Coventry within 2 weeks of contract award
  • Full understanding and demonstrable experience in planning and running a discovery, alpha and beta development
  • Ability to work with third party teams working for the same overall service to the same customers
  • Provision of, or willingness to subcontract, subject matter expertise in occupational psychology and psychometrics
  • Ability and experience in agile working
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Strong understanding of the Government Digital Service's design principles and digital service standard
  • Abiility to scale services up or down at short notice as requirements shift

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Evidence of success in GDS assessments or confirmation of understanding and ability to do so
  • Evidence of successful agile working
  • Proposed team to deliver the discovery successfully within 2 months
  • Evidence of sharing developments and findings with wider colleagues and other supplier teams
  • Evidence of effective working with third party teams delivering related services and how dependencies were (or should be) managed
  • Price (proposed team rates x 2 months work)
  • Either show evidence of working with a specialist subcontractor providing skills you do not normally provide
  • Or if you have expertise on occupational psychology in-house, provide evidence of the work they have completed
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation and other suppliers, fully participating in scrum of scrum events
  • Share knowledge and experience with other teams
  • Share progress, findings and developments with other teams (including other suppliers) via show and tell presentations
Payment approach
Time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Work history
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. What is the budget range for this project?
If the discovery runs for 2 months, then we would expect costs to be £140k - 170k for the complete team.
2. The GDS service standard does not include a service assessment at the end of Discovery, and the Service Manual explains that progression to alpha is not a requirement for a Discovery to be considered successful. Please can you clarify what evidence is required to satisfy Essential skill 1: ‘…discovery through to completion, including successful assessment by GDS’?
Good point.
We want a discovery that sets us on the way to success with GDS assessments, should the work move into alpha and subsequent phases. If the conclusion of the discovery is that no subsequent alpha phase is appropriate, we recognise that this too is a legitimate outcome.
3. Has the work completed to date been done internally by the Skills Funding Agency or by a third party supplier? If the latter, are you able to advise who undertook the work?
The work to date has been completed by multiple insourced teams managed by the Agency (or interim contractors acting on behalf of the Agency). The published requirements stated that the existing teams are rich in contractors sourced from different service providers. As there is no single third party supplier, delivering the work, we are not able to provide the requested information.
4. How will suppliers be evaluated at proposal?
Responses to the proposal criteria will be scored.

Each proposal criterion aligns to a technical, cultural or price subject and the weighting for these will be applied.
5. Is there a deadline for delivery of this service to Beta, if it should enter alpha and beta?
Should it progress to alpha and beta phases, then we are looking to have digital products available (public beta or live) in the last quarter of 2018. There is an existing digital tool for which the licence expires at the end of December 2018.
6. Are there any reasons why this Discovery will last 2 months?

That is an estimate to inform budgets and approvals. If the discovery completes sooner, all the better.
7. Would you expect suppliers to work as part of a multi-supplier team?
Not necessarily.

Although most of the current teams are multi-supplier, we want to use a single supplier team (possibly with subcontracted specialist skills) for this discovery.

We would reserve the right to place people in the team if we think that would work better.
8. You mention a number of teams such as, the 'Find a Career team'. How would you expect the work from these teams to feed into the 'Understand myself' Discovery?
As part of a discovery, the team would have to start to understand the context and business needs. We would expect the discovery team to actively engage with other teams and key stakeholders to achieve this.

We also run a scrum of scrums approach and link that to a design authority governance to ensure the integrity of the overall operating model.
9. Who will be the SRO for this project?
The SRO will be the Deputy Director with responsibility for the National Careers Service, for which this service (if progressed to alpha and beta) will form part.
10. Are there any existing technologies or enterprise technology strategy that the Alpha needs to comply with? Is so, please describe these at a high level.

Has Discovery considered what candidate architecture or technology might be considered during Alpha? If so please describe this.
A key output of discovery will be the understanding of the current architecture and the constraints that may have on the solution, this includes alignment with the GDS Service Standard and the Technology Code of Practice. The technology stack for the wider service includes Azure PaaS and .NET based products.
11. Do you have an idea of how big the sample will need to be for the research?
There is not a definite sample size, it comes down to the appropriate research approach and methodology that will be undertaken to solve each of the problems/challenges. We expect you to be aware of the guidelines that exist for different approaches and methodologies.

We would expect the to have a sample that covers a wide range of demographics within England based on Personas relevant to the product. Also to include people with accessibility and assisted digital needs.
12. Would you be open to the team co-locating or working remotely for parts of the project?
The requirements set out an expectation that we want the team to be co-located on-site in Coventry. Clearly user research activities will need to take place where suitable user samples can be arranged.
13. You would like the team to be co-located on-site in Coventry. Are you open to the team working some days from the supplier’s offices?
Yes as long as this is very limited (no more than 1 day / week) and does not impair the work or the relationships and dependency management with other teams on site.
14. Do you have a preferred list of occupational psychology and psychometric subject matter experts?
No. We did have an effective working relationship with a specialist organisation in the past when we developed the current skills healthcheck tool, which was subject to competition, however we have no expectation that they must be involved. A relevant subject matter expert from any source could be used.
15. Can you confirm if the challenge is primarily to address the complexities of displaying appropriate guided content to end users, with specific business logic to create the final report? Can you also summarise the extent of the business logic required to generate the report?
No. We expect a discovery to establish user needs and how best to meet them in order to inform user decisions about their careers.
16. You mentioned the need for a team member 'with expertise in occupational psychology and psychometrics'. Do you have a provisional view on other roles you expect to make up the team?
Our expectations are that the remaining team could comprise: Product owner; User Researcher; UX Designer and possibly some Technical Architect input. Some of these roles might be combined in one team member. This is based on guidance in GDS service manual:
An output of the discovery should be the resources needed to progress to the next phase.
17. Can you provide more details on how pricing will be evaluated?
The costs of the proposed team, excluding the occupational psychologist, for two months will be the basis of the comparison. For bidder A, the lowest bid cost will be divided by bidder A's cost and multiplied by the Price weighting (30%).

For example, if bidder A's team cost is £120k and the lowest bid cost is £90k, then bidder A will receive 90/120 = 75% of the score available. As price is 30% of the total weight, then bidder A will have a score of 75% x 30% = 22.5%.
18. Do you expect indicative user recruitment and incentive costs to be included in the proposal, or do you expect them to be passed on to the Agency as 'materials'?
Passed on to the Agency as 'materials'
19. Will the Agency provide access to users or will the supplier need to identify relevant sample users?
Researchers in your team will need to identify the requirements for the users needed. We can provide an initial set of Personas but you will need to validate these and will probably need to investigate other type of users. We expect the supplier to identify relevant sample users.
20. 'Ability to scale services up or down at short notice as requirements shift'. When you say 'scale services', are you referring to the provision of people or to the technology provision?
We were referring to the capacity of the team.