Awarded to Olive Jar Digital

Start date: Monday 26 November 2018
Value: £3,000,000
Company size: SME
Department for Education

Schools financial benchmarking service - further development and support

7 Incomplete applications

6 SME, 1 large

14 Completed applications

5 SME, 9 large

Important dates

Friday 28 September 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 5 October 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 12 October 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
DfE require a highly skilled supplier (or agile partner) to complete outstanding development of the Schools Financial Benchmarking IT system & service to pass the GDS Live Service Assessment and then move to supporting the digital services in a live environment in line with the GDS standards
Latest start date
Monday 19 November 2018
Expected contract length
Up to 2 years
No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
The budget for this work is capped at £3million (including VAT) for 24 months from November 2018 to October 2020

About the work

Why the work is being done
The purpose of the schools financial benchmarking service ( is to enable schools to make comparisons between their own spending and that of similar schools in various categories. This information should be used by school leaders to inform their spending decisions and to identify if, where, and how spending changes could be made to support pupil progress within the available level of resource. A public beta version of the new benchmarking service was launched in July 2017. We are looking for an agile delivery partner to provide a team to support the ongoing development and BAU management of the service
Problem to be solved
External support for the schools financial benchmarking service will be required to:
- Complete the migration of data processing to the Azure platform,
- Complete the development of an automated data processing platform to help identify and rectify data issues,
- Ensure a successful Live assessment against GDS standards, and
- Ensure that the service is updated with fresh data and continues to reflect user needs and changing government policy.
- Ensure the service is supported and maintained in BAU so that there is continuity of service to end users whist in Beta and Live
Who the users are and what they need to do
As school governoror or headteacher, I need to compare my own school's financial data with similar schools in order to identify potential areas of saving and learn from schools that perform better in a given area of spending.

As school business manager, I need to understand the details of school finances so that I can look for ways to improve efficiency and to report my findings to the relevant bodies.

As service manager of the School Financial Benchmarking service I need to use the data and feedback from the service to inform policy development.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The schools financial benchmarking service has been fully redeveloped and a public beta version went live in July 2017. The site underwent a GDS assessment in January 2018, which concluded with a number of recommendations to be implemented until the site is granted Live status.
Existing team
The provider will be working closely with the Product Owner. Oversight will be provided by the Senior Responsible Officer and the School Resource Management portfolio board. These roles are currently with DfE's Funding Policy Unit and will move to ESFA upon successful GDS Assessment.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Department for Education, Sanctuary Buildings, London
It is expected that most of the daily work will be done remotely but attendance at meetings in London will be required occasionally.
Working arrangements
Work on this project will continue to follow Agile principles. The provider will work closely with the PO to triage new work based on user insight, maintenance issues or policy changes. This will be done via online collaboration tools. Regular show & tell sessions take place at the Department for Education in London to update the SRO on changes that were made, prioritise future work and consider future resource requirements. The provider will be expected to work and engage with the department’s technical team (for example) when deploying changes to the production environment.
Security clearance
Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) clearance
Cyber Essentials

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
  • Examples of delivering digital services using an agile team (per the GDS Service Manual) and of passing GDS Service Standard Assessments
  • Providing a multi-disciplinary team, including user research, service designer, delivery manager, business analyst & technical enterprise architect
  • Experience in working in and leading an agile team as well as coach, mentor and upskill people in agile techniques and roles to build capability within existing teams
  • Web development skills including user interface design (front-end), data analysis and data manipulation (back-end) and experience in delivering rapid iterations in response to user insight and priorities set by business
  • Demonstrable experience in providing full-stack development with a heavy emphasis on data analysis and data manipulation
  • Demonstrable experience in using the following key platform components: Microsoft Azure (CosmosDB, App Service for Windows, Azure Search), ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS/VSO), GitHub
  • Demonstrate experience in development of automated data processing platform to identify/rectify data issues, including streamlining data collection processes
  • Experience in reviewing existing information achitecture and making successful recommendations for legacy content
  • Expertise in conducting user research and usability testing to meet any set acceptance criteria (including assisted digital, users with access needs and accessibility audits)
  • Demonstrate how you would work with departmental Technical teams, including identifying and assisting with any areas of potential cost savings or improvements.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Understanding of the schools landscape in England
  • Experience of working within the public sector in the last 3 years
  • Experience of managing and proactively engaging internal stakeholders and building relationships to support digital/business transformation

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Contingency and Flexibility – Ability to easily scale resources up or down based on project needs and substitute similar resources without any implication to the project
  • Meeting user needs and ensuring successful assessment against Digital Service Standards, demonstrating experience of delivering services for UK government departments or public bodies
  • Strong understanding of agile and the core principles, Inspect and Adapt culture and Scrum, and how these apply
  • Fostering a UX-driven environment to inform development of a public-facing Web Service
  • Value for money: Demonstrate a transparent financial structure and fair pricing for the Service
  • Risk: demonstrate experience in the identification of key assumptions, dependencies, risks and issues, with robust mitigation plans
  • Provision a clear outline of team members and structure and demonstration of how their skills and experience will deliver the requirement
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstration of a proactive approach, taking responsibility for work and resolving issues quickly, without an over-reliance on the client team
  • Demonstration of working collaboratively in a multi-disciplinary team
  • Demonstration of working in a transparent and collaborative way with government departments or public bodies
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is there an incumbent supplier from earlier phases?
Yes, we have worked with different suppliers at different stages of the project. We will ensure that there is suitable exit and hand over arrangements between the incumbent and any new supplier’
2. Could you please provide an overview of the team who have developed this service to date? Is there a 3rd party supplier or contractors in place at the moment that this procurement will replace?
The team which has provided support for the beta development of the Schools Financial Benchmarking service includes bought in services from a scrum master, business analyst, 2 user experience experts (including a prototype designer), a database developer, a user interface developer, web content manager and technical architect. These services are currently provided by Olive Jar Digital, Cadence Innova and Fluent Interaction.
3. Can your confirm who are the incumbent supplier that this opportunity is looking to extend and if you expect this supplier to bid?
The current development services are provided by Olive Jar Digital, Cadence Innova and Fluent Interaction.
We will not know who has bid for the work until the advert closes.
4. Will you be supplying further information to bidders post shortlisting to enable us to provide a capped time and materials price?
We will provide further information, which sets out our current expectations of future workloads, as part of the post shortlisting process
5. In your evaluation guidance you require “Provision a clear outline of team members and structure and demonstration of how their skills and experience will deliver the requirement “ Should we provide a separate diagram outside of the 100 word count of question 2 to provide a full response as the 100 word count is not sufficient to respond adequately.
The criteria identified is part of the Proposal criteria which will be evaluated at the second stage of the competition, for those suppliers that get through the sift stage. We will send further information out at the second stage and this is likely to include a higher word count for these criteria.
6. In your evaluation guidance you require “Risk: demonstrate experience in the identification of key assumptions, dependencies, risks and issues, with robust mitigation plans” Please advise where you anticipate this being specifically addressed?
The criteria identified is part of the Proposal criteria which will be evaluated at the second stage of the competition, for those suppliers that get through the sift stage. For this criteria we are looking for your experience of identifying risks and drawing up robust mitigation plans. We expect you to be able to demonstrate this using previous projects as examples.
7. Can you please supply a copy of the recommendations from the GDS assessment and identify which are still outstanding?
The recommendations of the live assessment were focussed on improving user experience testing, particularly in relation to accessibility, assisted digital and user satisfaction. We have made significant progress on these issues, e.g. by implementing regular accessibility audits and improving data latency. However continuing vigilance on these recommendations and the GDS service standards will be necessary ahead of live assessment and during the live phase. More information will be provided at the second stage of the procurement exercise.
8. Can you provide any detail of the Jan 2018 GDS assessment recommendations?
Please see response to number 7
9. Has an estimate been done on the amount of work still required to fulfil the Jan 2018 GDS assessment recommendations?
We estimate minimal work will be required by the successful bidder to implement the recommendations from the previous assessment. The recommendations fell into three categories: improving user testing; assisted digital and improving data latency. A substantive amount of work has been undertaken in these areas and changes made to the service accordingly. We have evidenced the improvement by conducting accessibility audits; user research and user satisfaction surveys. The remainder of the public beta period will focus on gathering further user experiences, implementing new functionality, improving data upload and ensuring that the service continues to meet the GDS service standards.
10. How much of the outstanding pre-Live work consists of refactoring the existing solution vs new development?
We expect to respond to calls for new functionality as a result of customer insight and changing policy both in pre-live and post-live periods. There is also a requirement to continue to explore and implement moving the Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) process to Azure Data platforms.
11. What sort of monitoring is in place for supporting the product in a live environment?
User experience testing will need to continue in the live environment. This insight, alongside Google Analytics, embedded survey results and continuing stakeholder engagement will determine how the service evolves. The DfE internal IT Operations team monitors and supports the Azure hosting platform and a service operating model (SOM) outlines key roles and responsibilities between the support/delivery partners.
It is expected that there will be new developments and additional functionality required post-live, as well as regular data uploads. The service provider will need to be able to flexibly resource the service team in order to meet fluctuations in workload
12. Is there an existing support plan for the Live phase, or will formulating one be part of this project?
The existing post-live support plan is to maintain a relatively small support team to gather customer insight, respond to developing user needs and changing policy, as well as to support data uploads. Other Business As Usual Support will include rectifying bugs and minor changes/improvements- working to agreed SLAs and liaising, when necessary, with DfE Technology Group Cloud Operations support team. It is expected that there will be new developments and additional functionality required after the service is deemed Live. Future requirements and the resource required to deliver it, will be regularly reviewed.