Awarded to The Dextrous Web (trading as dxw)

Start date: Thursday 22 November 2018
Value: £1,300,000
Company size: SME

Ofsted digital services: 2 year call-off contract for discovery and alpha services

13 Incomplete applications

11 SME, 2 large

36 Completed applications

26 SME, 10 large

Important dates

Monday 13 August 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 20 August 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 27 August 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We want a partner to help us iterate and improve our digital services. The supplier will carry out discovery and alpha phase work on different projects, starting with a discovery on parent reviews of schools. They will help build our capability by working closely with in-house teams.
Latest start date
Monday 22 October 2018
Expected contract length
2 years, but work packages will be issued for each design phase, and for each separate service.
Organisation the work is for
Budget range
£0 to £1.3 mil, inclusive of VAT

The budget range for this call-off contract is between £0 and £1.3m (Inc VAT).

For the purpose of evaluation if invited to tender at Stage 2 Suppliers wll be expected to cost against the work required for Work Package 1. Separate day rates for each role should also be supplied. Subsequent statements of work will be agreed on fixed price, capped price, or T&M basis with agreed phases and deliverables

About the work

Why the work is being done
Ofsted seeks a strategic partner to help improve and iterate our digital services for citizens, improve the user experience of other external/internal services, and reduce costs through good service design. Projects in our pipeline include a service for parent feedback on schools, and changes to our public contact channels. We expect other projects for external and internal customers to form more work packages over the contract life. So we can deliver efficiently and quickly, we want to partner with a strategic supplier to support us for discovery and alpha phase projects and help grow our in-house skills.
Problem to be solved
We have a number of programmes and need support on different issues. We need to understand opportunities, identify user needs, and identify where we can address needs by improving services. Examples: on parent reviews, our current service is built on old technology at the end of its life; most parents like to see feedback about schools, but few are motivated to post a review outside of inspection.

Our first work package under this call-off contract outlines the problem to be solved in relation to parent reviews.

Details can be found here:
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a parent worried about the quality of education in my child's school, I need to quickly report my concerns to the relevant organisation, so that they can do something about it.

As an inspector of schools, I need to know what parents think about a school, so that I can include these in my inspection and report.

As a parent choosing a school, I need to know what parents like me think about it, so I can make the right choice for my child.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Ofsted has previously carried out some discovery work on parent reviews and on complaints. This material can be made available to the shortlisted suppliers.
Existing team
Ofsted digital service managers, Ofsted user researcher, Ofsted content designer, and other in-house staff. This supplier will be expected to work from time to time with other Ofsted suppliers e.g. those who support and Ofsted internal IT systems but most discovery-alpha work will be carried out by this supplier alone.
Current phase
Not started

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Ofsted offices at Clive House, Petty France, London, and Piccadilly Gate, Manchester.
Working arrangements
It is essential that the supplier is prepared to work on site with Ofsted's project team during key active project phases. Work Package 1 will require working at Ofsted London Office. Subsequent work packages will be delivered from either London or our Manchester offices.

Travel to field research / interviews will be paid by the supplier.

Supplier day rates should be inclusive of travel and subsistence costs for travel to other Ofsted offices i.e. outside of the base location the work is being carried out at.
Security clearance
Baseline Personnel Security Standard.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Suppliers should note that this is a two year call-off contract during which time work packages will be released to the successful supplier.

There is no guaranteed volume of work or minimum contract value during the operating period of the call-off contract.

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
  • Full understanding and demonstrable experience of a wide range of research and design methodologies for designing high-volume digital services which have a diverse mix of users.
  • Strong experience of delivering discovery-alpha work to government service standards and through GDS assessment; demonstrable experience of using the outputs of discovery-alpha to set scope of the next stages.
  • E3 Ability to scale the team to lead on further discoveries or alphas alongside existing discovery and alpha projects (with appropriate notice/agreement of work package.
  • Proven ability to build in-house skills and help the core DDAT team achieve buy-in to user-centred and agile approaches, through joint delivery, coaching and working with senior stakeholders .
  • Strong demonstrable experience of rapid iterative prototyping based on ongoing user research
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Understanding of the education, childcare and social care landscape in England.
  • Experience of delivering creative, innovative projects which take account of the latest developments to government service standards and/or emerging changes in user behaviour.

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
To be confirmed at stage 2 following initial shortlisting exercise at Stage 1.
Cultural fit criteria
To be confirmed at stage 2 following initial shortlisting exercise at Stage 1.
Payment approach
Time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Please can you advise on the timelines for stages 1 and 2 of this tender?
Stage 1

Advert Released – 13/08/2018
Deadline for return of Applications – 27/08/2018

Please note the below time frames for stage 2 are indicative only and subject to change or alteration.

For those Suppliers who are shortlisted for stage 2 the time scales would be: -

Stage 2
Release of ITQ Document – 10/09/2018
Submission of Proposal to Ofsted - 28/09/2018
Proposal Evaluation – 01/10/2018 – 12/10/2018
Appointment of Supplier – 15/10/2018 – 19/10/2018
Contract Start Date - 22/10/2018
2. What is the E3 ability to scale the team?
This is a typo, and should be ignored. The essential skill and experience should read –

Ability to scale the team to lead on further discoveries or alphas alongside existing discovery and alpha projects (with appropriate notice/agreement of work package).
3. Does the work fall outside the scope of IR35?
The contract will fall outside the remit of IR35.
4. Will there be an opportunity to adjust rate cards during the life of the contract, say after one year of operation? If so, will the amount by which rates can be adjusted be specified in the call off contract?
The rate cards will be reviewed on the 1 year anniversary of the contract by both parties. Clause 31 of the DOS 2 Framework Agreement Call Off Contract Terms and Conditions “Contract Changes” will be used to agree any adjustment to rate cards.
5. Will there be an opportunity for any off-site working on any project, other than field user research?
We support a distributed workforce with many of our people working either at home or in other Ofsted locations. However, we expect our people and suppliers resource to work together at the same Ofsted location, for the majority of a week. This is because we believe co-location facilitates speedy decision-making and promotes a shared understanding of the products/services the delivery team works on.
6. What will the terms be for billing Ofset and being paid? For example, supplier invoice monthly in arrears, supplier paid within 30 days?
Payment Terms will be as per the DOS 2 Framework Agreement Call Off Contract Standard Terms and Conditions, i.e. clause 8.1 - The Buyer will pay the Supplier within 30 days of receipt of a valid invoice submitted in accordance with the Call-Off Contract.
7. How many concurrent projects are you expecting overall and in each location?
This a two-year call off contract and we expect demand to fluctuate during that period. However an estimate could be two concurrent projects at any time (albeit we would like the scope to increase) with one in each location.
8. Can you say what a rough split of work across the 2 sites mentioned will be in terms of number of teams / projects?
We are committed to building our capability and staffing in our Manchester office. There will be an early bias towards London but in 12 months-time we would expect the split to be broadly fifty fifty.
9. Is this opportunity related to your previous opportunity ‘Publishing Ofsted Inspection Reports as web content– Discovery Project’.
When will the results of that project be published? We submitted a response several weeks ago, Present status on Digital Marketplace remains at "Submitted" An update would be helpful.
This opportunity is separate from the Publishing Ofsted Inspection Reports as Content Discovery Project.

Can you please email with your enquiry for an update and the team who is managing this procurement will respond.
10. Can you confirm if this work is expected to be undertaken within your existing website CMS, and if so whether that CMS is hosted on-premise or in the cloud, or whether you are open to solutions that are developed using the native capabilities of public cloud platforms such as AWS or Azure?
Our existing CMS for the new Inspection Reports website is a Drupal based system hosted in AWS. We do not have any other CMS systems. If any of the Alpha work has an impact on the Reports website, then we will have to do the relevant work in our existing CMS.

We are technology agnostic at this point because most of our work is Discovery based. Having said that, our recently built services have all been hosted on AWS.
11. Ofsted has previously carried out some discovery work on parent reviews and on complaints. Please can you confirm who delivered this work?
A number of pieces of work over the last 2-3 years were led by Ofsted internal teams, and supported by AdHoc Global, and Livework.
12. You mentioned the supplier needs to be prepared to work onsite with Ofsted’s project team. How flexible is this working arrangement / how frequently will the supplier need to deliver work from either London or Manchester?
We expect any supplier to work with our existing teams in London and Manchester, including onsite working where necessary. Dependent upon the needs of any engagement this could be up to three days a week.
13. Please can you provide more information on the Ofsted digital team the supplier will be working with including their agile experience?
Service Manager X 3 – experienced in agile
Junior product manager X 3 – varying degrees of agile experience
Content designer X 2 – experienced in agile
Product manager X 1 – experienced in agile
User researcher X 1 - experienced in agile
14. Are you specifically looking to work with an agency that specialises in UX and Service Design to conduct the Discovery and Alpha phases or would you be open to receiving bids from full service agencies?
We are open to receive bids from full service agencies who make the shortlist for stage 2 of the procurement.
15. Who are the third parties you expect the successful supplier to work with?
We have different suppliers for different parts of our digital and tech estate. We have CACI and CGI providing services to us for some of our back-end systems. We also have Zoocha, who is currently providing development, hosting and maintenance services to our new Inspection Reports service. Ofsted also works with Informed Solutions on its new register as a childminder service. We also are working with Rainmaker in our Electronic Evidence Gathering internal service.
16. What kind of work are these third parties doing for Ofsted?
They vary from traditional IT service management, to iterative agile delivery of our newer IT estate.
17. What was your experience working with Drupal 6?
Our old Inspection Reports website was built on Drupal 6, and we have used the CMS for about 3-4 years. Our new service is built on Drupal 8.
18. Who currently manages the AWS infrastructure?
Zoocha and Informed Solutions, depending on the project.
19. To what extent would the new supplier need/obtain access to your AWS infrastructure?
That will be determined on the solution agreed at the end of Discovery for each of the projects that might be covered under this contract.
20. To what extent are the IT services team involved with code releases/deployments?
For our back-end services (historical databases and old web services), our IT services team is in charge of coordinating releases and deployments with the suppliers. Regarding our newer digital estate, Digital Services team is in charge of working with our current suppliers to release and deploy.
21. Are there existing development/staging instances of the sites discussed in this opportunity?
The piece around parents feedback, the existing service has a development environment, but we are not expecting it to be used in Alpha. We would like to take that work into quickly spinning up environments and release and deploy frequently.

The other digital services that the work under this contract might cover have development and staging environments, i.e. Inspection Reports website, become a childminder service, electronic evidence gathering service.
22. How are new features or changes currently progressed from development to QA and then into production?
We are using continuous integration pipelines, with automated tests. We are using Build, Test and Production environments. However, we have not automated deployment to Production just yet, so we manually release from Test to Production at the end of each Sprint.
23. Who undertook the previous discovery?
A number of pieces of work over the last 2-3 years were led by Ofsted internal teams, and supported by AdHoc Global, and Livework.