Awarded to Softwire Technology Limited

Start date: Wednesday 2 January 2019
Value: £500,000
Company size: SME
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)

Support and continuous improvement for 2 MCHLG Services (Data Collection and Grant Payment services)

4 Incomplete applications

3 SME, 1 large

11 Completed applications

6 SME, 5 large

Important dates

Wednesday 19 September 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 26 September 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 3 October 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Support and improve two significant MHCLG live digital services, which allow data collection and grant payments. Improvements should be delivered in an agile way and based on changing business and user needs.

Tech stack: MarkLogic NOSQL, Orbeon forms, Java, XQuery, XPath, Jaspersoft.
Latest start date
Wednesday 2 January 2019
Expected contract length
2 years
No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)
Budget range
For support, a budget range of £205,000 to £216,000 has been allocated for this requirement.

For future development, a budget range of £350,000 to £375,000 has been allocated for this requirement.

This division does not need to be adhered to rigidly. We want to work in a collaborative way, avoiding a rigid change request culture. We welcome hearing your views on how this could work.

About the work

Why the work is being done
CORE (Continuous Recording) supports the collection of social housing sales and lettings data provided by English local authorities. The service currently has ~11,500 users.

The Troubled Families service supports a key MHCLG programme to improve significantly and sustainably the outcomes of up to 400,000 families with multiple high cost problems, including crime, truancy, unemployment, drug and alcohol issues and those affected by domestic violence and abuse. The service currently has ~600 users.

Both services are in public beta/live. New forms will need to be build for CORE every Jan-March.
Problem to be solved
CORE - statistical data allows MHCLG to make better policy decisions.

Troubled Families - MHCLG needs to be able to manage grant applications and payments.

These services have been developed and are now in public beta (closed user group). The problem this outcome seeks to resolve is that support is needed for these live services, and we wish to be able to continually improve them as a result of changing business and user need.
Who the users are and what they need to do
CORE service:

As someone who collects statistical data in a Housing Association, I want to provide this information to MHCLG quickly and easily, so that I can help MCHLG make good policy decisions

As a statistician within MHCLG, I want to be able to easily download the data submitted, so that I can easily analyse the data to help policy makers.

Troubled Families:
As someone in a local authority helping a troubled family, I want to submit information to MHCLG, so that I can receive a grant to help with this work

MHCLG wants to manage these grants
Early market engagement
MHCLG currently hold contracts with an incumbent supplier - Williams Lea. MHCLG aim to see what the market can provide, in terms of added value and other service provision linked to these 2 services.

MHCLG also advertised a requirement for these services earlier this year called off against Technology Services 2. However, this procurement exercise was stopped (to reconsider our options). We have now taken the decision to disaggregate these services, of which these are two.
Any work that’s already been done
Both services have been live for more than a year.
Existing team
Current incumbent is Williams Lea. It is expected that the successful supplier shall work with them to transition the services.

These two services are part of a suite of connected services (including shared components, such as authentication), which may be delivered by other suppliers. The successful supplier will be expected to communicate regularly with other suppliers to ensure appropriate consistency and that all the services continue to work together.

The successful supplier will also need to work with the MHCLG hosting partner and the internal Helpdesk.

MHCLG provides 1 product owner per service.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
There will be some requirements in MHCLG offices in 2 Marsham Street, London.

However, our expectation is that all work can be delivered from the successful suppliers premises.
Working arrangements
As these are live services, both will need standard support such as upgrades of databases.

We also want to continue to improve them as a result of changing business and user needs. We'd want to work with you in an agile way (multidisciplinary team) to consider and develop these changes as we discover the need for them. We're interested in a flexible contract model where we can commit to a certain level of regular funding and then flex up to encompass work above and beyond this.
Security clearance
Staff shall require BPSS clearance for this requirement. System Administrators are expected to hold full SC clearance for this requirement.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) terms and conditions are required for this contract.

Any appointed supplier is expected to use Departmental tools where required (such as Jira).

Suppliers will be required to work to reasonable SLAs for 3rd-line level incidents e.g. P1 resolution 4 working hours, P2 in 8 working hours, etc. (To be agreed between MHCLG and supplier at contract time).

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
  • Have knowledge of NOSQL databases and Java
  • Ability to develop in an agile way
  • Experience of developing secure services and proactively mitigating risks
  • Experience of support live digital services and responding to Third Line support calls
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate knowledge of MarkLogic databases and Orbeon formbuilder
  • Experience of transitioning live digital services
  • Experience of working on government services which meet the Government Digital Service standard

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Team structure
  • Approach and methodology
  • Value for money
  • How you would support live digital services
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team (both internal and external)
  • Be transparent and collaborative
  • Take responsibility for their work
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members
  • Challenge the status quo
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Work history
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. "No specific location, eg they can work remotely ". Would offshoring work for MCHLG?
We would prefer the successful supplier not to offshore.
2. What are the specific roles required for delivery and how many resources in total?
We are expecting all interested suppliers to propose the number of people necessary to support, and the kind of roles we would have access to in order to continue to deliver improvements.
3. Could you please provide more details on the application to be supported and enhanced?
Happy to provide more information. We suggest that you attend the Question and Answer session being held on Monday 24 September from 1400 to 1500 to probe more? We will post all answers from that Q&A onto the Marketplace.
4. The response to supplier question 3 refers to a Question and Answer session being held on Monday 24 September from 1400 to 1500. Could you please provide joining instructions to this event.
Dialling-in details are as follows:

Please contact 0303 444 1400 in the first instance.
The Access code for this is:0474837
5. Question 1 said that you would not to offshore? Could you provide further details of whether this is specific to both support or development or not?
Our preference is not to offshore, although we haven’t ruled it out. It is easier from a GDPR prospective if all work is done in the UK as our current understanding is that data should stay in the UK. Resolving support queries may require the supplier to access personal data, for example. This can be explored further with the preferred supplier.
6. What is more important – team or a service?
Our preference would be a team. However, we understand this may not be possible within our budget constraints and are definitely not expecting a full-time team. Hence, the reason why we have asked suppliers to provide us with their best proposals.
7. What are the key areas of delivering these services in future?
CORE service changes its requirements for data every year – so new forms will need to be developed as a minimum. We have also identified some areas of pain for users of both services. Potential major re-development of CORE proposed, but probably outside of this contract.
8. Could you provide details on the current performance of both services?
Performance on both services is stable at present. For the Continuous Recording service, there are lots of transactions but performance is stable. For the Troubled Families service, there are peak periods during the year but the service is once again, stable.
9. How are both services hosted?
Both services are hosted on Amazon Web Services, which MHCLG contract through an outsourced contractual arrangement with Arcus Global.
10. How will support calls be transferred?
ServiceNow is the toolset of MHCLG’s choice. Incidents shall be fully triaged before being passed on to the Third line support group
11. Will support calls be redirected through the Helpdesk for incident and problem resolution?
Yes. MHCLG shall also have a Product Owner/Service Owner who will work with the supplier to help resolve calls and manage stakeholder expectations.
12. Will there be a support environment?
We have a test environment, which is currently not the same as the production environment. We’re working with our current supplier to improve the test environment.
13. Is there a need for Release and Change management?
Yes, Service Now shall manage these processes.
14. Is there a need for support suppliers to use ITIL 3 as a method to deliver these services?
Yes, although MHCLG aspire to more of a continuous improvement environment than a change request culture.
15. Are there differences between how a service request differs from a change request.
Yes, these differences are already in place.
16. In your requirement brief, you mention that MarkLogic skill is nice to have. How important is MarkLogic?
Our services are built in MarkLogic, but we’re aware that this technology is not widely used. We would expect any successful supplier to rapidly gain knowledge of MarkLogic if they don’t already have these skills, and be able to demonstrate significant technical skill in related technologies (NOSQL, etc) to convince MHCLG that they would be able to support our tech stack.
17. Is TUPE in scope?
18. Can you explain what is meant by ability to develop in an agile way?
We are not expecting a specific agile methodology i.e. SCRUM, and we don’t require proof of ceremonies, etc. We’re seeking a supplier who will adhere to the agile manifesto/principles – collaborate with us, self-organise etc, welcome change.
19. Could you say something about the agile capabilities in MHCLG?
MHCLG are gaining more and more skills in agile capability. Product Owner’s are empowered.
20. Could you say something about your release strategy?
We would like to remove as many barriers as possible. We aim to release regularly in future. Currently there is a Change Board that meets regularly.
21. Is their a product roadmap in place over the duration of this contract (2 years)?
No. However, there are some things in the pipeline, for example CORE changes its needs for data every year/needs new forms and we’ve identified some user issues.
22. Could you say something about your budgets?
The budgets listed in our requirement reflect levels of change requested and delivered during the previous year with our existing supplier. It is up to suppliers to suggest what they would like to spend on support.
23. Why is there a need for SC level of clearance?
System’s Administrators working on this will require SC level of clearance. This is because there will be a need to access restricted Environments and potentially personal data.
24. Will the Systems Administrator role be full time
No. this role will not be a full time role.
25. Can remote offsite access be given to Systems Administrators?
Yes, offsite access for systems administrators can be provided via VPN.
26. Is there a defined product roadmap in place?
No - please see our response to Question 21 for further details.
27. Could you provide us with a procurement timeline
Proposals submitted – close date Wednesday 3 October;
Proposals sent to evaluators – Thursday 4 October;
Moderation meeting (to shortlist suppliers) – Thursday 11 October;
Supplier presentations (Work history and cultural fit questions) – Thursday 18 October;
Suppliers informed of final decision – Friday 26 October;
Standstill ends and contract signed – Friday 9 November;
Contract starts – 2 January 2019.

The above dates are estimates and may change as the procurement continues.
28. Could you explain the procurement process once the close date for bids has passed
Please refer to our response to Question 27.
29. The definition of “Capped time and materials” is that any outstanding deliverables which cannot be delivered within the value of the SoW must be completed at the supplier’s costs. Is this your intention?
Our expectation is that we have a finite budget, and what work can be done within that budget will be agreed between MHCLG and the supplier.
30. You mention a budget range of £205,000 to £216,000 for support and £350,000 to £375,000 for development- are these two ranges for a 6 month period or 2 years?
These ranges cover a 2 year period.
31. Are you happy with your current supplier? Why are you letting this requirement?
It is not appropriate for us to answer this question.
32. Do you know whether the current incumbent shall bid for this requirement?
Cannot confirm
33. Could you provide details of what level of support is required for this requirement?
First line shall be provided by a Helpdesk support contract with another supplier. The successful supplier for the CORE/TFIS requirement (this brief) will be expected to deliver a Third line support service to mutually agreed SLAs (we will upload our proposed SLAs in the document store shown below).
34. Can you provide further details on level of bug fixes for the current service?
Further details can be provided. These can be accessed via the following link :
35. How well documented are current services?
Levels of issues/bugs are well documented (see question 8 above). Development documentation can be provided once the preferred supplier is known. The current service contract expires on 31 March 2019. Our expectation is that transition and documentation will be updated at that time – with the incumbent supplier working with the new supplier to ensure an effective handover.
36. Re: Questions 8 and 35 above – could you provide more detail on different service support lines?
First line will be provided by the Helpdesk supplier (new contract). Second line covers ongoing monitoring of the platform, provided by Arcus. Third line would be provided by this supplier – expectation of 9am to 5pm service to agreed SLAs. Further details can be found at:
37. Do you currently have an automated testing?
The current incumbent has a test environment (see response to question 12).

Further details can be provided. These can be accessed via the following link:
38. Could you please clarify whether you're looking for part-time roles across the two years?
39. What will be the total number of users finally using these applications
CORE – around 1,000 users;
Troubled Families around 700 users.
40. Are the numbers likely to go up or down in the future?
Numbers of users and transactions in future are likely to be remain stable.
41. What is the current number of FTE working on these applications
Unknown, but expected no full-time. We currently have a service contract.
42. Any information regarding the backlog (defects to be fixed) and for the future enhancements planned for the 2 years of support duration
See earlier answers.
43. Can you share any public URL's to check these services?
TFAM is all behind log-in
44. How many 3rd line support calls are received each week or month please
Details can be found at:
45. You've listed experience in MarkLogic and Orbeon as nice-to-have but experience in NoSQL as essential. Is it your expectation then to move away from MarkLogic in the future and look at other options?
Answer as per question 16 above. We may review the technical solutions as part of this contract.
46. You mention development needs for the service "to improve them as a result of changing business and user needs". Will these needs be articulated by an internal BA or do you consider this to be a part of the service you are procuring?
We’d expect to provide product owner/product manager/business analyst type skills, but would want to work closely with the successful supplier to collaboratively work out how to best solve problems i.e. we wouldn’t want to specify a particular technical solution without discussion with the supplier about what is plausible or sensible.