Department for Education

Software Development Capability

Incomplete applications

25
Incomplete applications
17 SME, 8 large

Completed applications

20
Completed applications
15 SME, 5 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Tuesday 20 November 2018
Deadline for asking questions Tuesday 27 November 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Tuesday 4 December 2018 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Overview
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work We are looking for Software Development Capability to work alongside our in-house digital development team and other capability suppliers, working with us to build digital services, as part of department's digital transformation of services, in line with government service standards.
Latest start date Monday 21 January 2019
Expected contract length 2 years
Location London
Organisation the work is for Department for Education
Budget range Budget approval is subject to Cabinet Office spending controls, service assessments and DfE governance.
A pipeline of activity is foreseen over the next 24 months, with an indicative budget against the requirements for this capability being £1.5m, but that scope could expand or contract.
Each SOW will give a cost to enable tracking
DfE does not commit to any minimum or maximum spend at this point.

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done To improve the customer journey on delivery services targetted at Teachers, Schools, parents & children. Specifically focusing on designing, developing and maintenance of application processes, as part of a longer term aim to provide a single, seamless service with a common entry point.
Problem to be solved To address the disjointed and confusing user journeys, enabling users to make better informed choices going through available services
Digital requires capabilities which are able to deliver outcomes based on user needs, government service standards and capable of supporting a range of projects from inception through to live.
This approach will provide continuity through the lifecycle of projects, ensuring no break in support and expertise built up in the team leading to improved opportunities for shadowing and knowledge transfer. We anticipate additional capability support to be required on 5-8 projects at any time.
Who the users are and what they need to do - Teachers
- Parents
- Students
- Education advisors
- School administrators
- People that deliver children’s services
- Our own staff
For example:
I need to train to be a teacher so that I can be employed as a qualified teacher”
As a person or body wanting to establish an academy I/we need to establish an academy as simply as possible
As a school leader I need to know about funding opportunities so that my school can apply for relevant grants
As a parent I need to know how to apply for financial support for my child
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done Some digital education services are live via the GOV.UK website. For example: https://www.gov.uk/apply-online-for-student-finance However there is still a lot of potential to deliver development work and enhancement.

Digital programme discovery is well underway with potential services identified and prioritised. Some service discovery, alpha and private beta activity has been completed.
Existing team You will work with internal DfE staff from a range of disciplines, including architecture, security, policy, service and product management, finance, and delivery management.
To improve DfE internal capability, build and support the applications/services, knowledge transfer back into DfE will be a requirement.
You may collaborate or work with other suppliers who are providing other capabilities as part of a team, for example, data extract, transformation, load and migration and in the setting up of dev/test environments
Current phase Not applicable

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place For any given SoW the work is likely to be based in London, Coventry or Manchester, some research activity may be required UK wide. Travel may be required to DfE offices in these locations.

The primary base will be detailed in each Statement of Work (SoW) and expenses will not form part of the cost unless the supplier is asked to work from a secondary location instead during the execution of the work relating to the SoW. e.g. If SoW primary base is in Coventry then no expenses will be paid for Coventry.
Working arrangements The existing DfE digital team comprises lead roles in product and service management, and agile delivery, as well as stakeholders from our finance, HR and legal services teams.
This capability will need to be part of a co-located team as required

We are looking for Software Development capabilites to complement our agile development/delivery.
We anticipate up to 8 concurrent engagements.

A Statement of Work will be completed to outline the outcomes and deliverables expected for each engagement
Security clearance DfE requires all supplier staff to have baseline personnel security standard clearance (BPSS). There may be a requirement for some of the work to require security clearance checks. This will be detailed in the statement of work.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions Standard Framework and Call Off Terms and Conditions. Expenses must be pre-agreed and comply with CCS Travel and Subsistence Policy. Any expenses shall be submitted in line with DfE standard T&S policy. Primary work location stated in SoW will not attract expenses. Contract and Vendor Management will form a key part of governance and suppliers will be expected to co-operate in a manner that fosters healthy working relationships and quality delivery.

Suppliers must provide sufficient guarantees to meet the requirements of GDPR in line with Procurement Policy Note 03/17 Changes to Data Protection Legislation & General Data Protection Regulation

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Skills and experience
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Essential skills and experience
  • Proven ability to develop software in Ruby using recent language and framework features
  • Proven ability to write maintainable, shareable code
  • Uses a modern standards approach competently and coaches others in so doing
  • Experience of developing with web technologies
  • Has experience of maintaining and supporting live services
  • Proven ability to collaborate with designers and user researchers and can sell and represent users needs
  • Experience of working in an agile team in an ambiguous and complex environment
  • Experience of a paired development approach
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Proven ability to develop software in Node.js using recent language and framework features
  • Proven ability to develop software in C# using recent language and framework features
  • Evidence of delivering against Digital Service Standards https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/service-standard
  • Ability to deliver software utilising the features of the Azure platform
  • Experience with small agile teams, filling gaps in DevOps, QA, Technical architecture
  • Demonstrable experience of RESTful API design
  • Demonstrable ability to review the systems designs of others to ensure selection of appropriate technology
  • Efficient use of resources and integration of multiple systems and technology

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 3
Proposal criteria
  • Experience of building accessible web-pages, with links to previous work
  • Demonstrable evidence of building and running microservice architectures
  • Experience of using libraries and frameworks to avoid duplication of work
  • Previous experience of deploying to and operating production and pre-production environments
  • Evidence of team members delivery of digital products/services to government Digital Service standards
  • Proposal of how you plan to transfer knowledge to permanent staff within DfE
Cultural fit criteria
  • Experience of working with an organisation at the beginning of an agile culture change
  • Experience of working with multi-vendor teams across multiple projects
  • Experience of collaboration with multiple organisational stakeholders with the aim to achieve a single objective
  • Experience of transferring knowledge to permanent staff within client organisation
  • Evidence of scaling up capability input across multiple projects
  • Provide evidence of flexible working practices
  • Previous experience working as part of a multidisciplinary, agile service team
  • Have a no blame culture and encourage people to learn from their mistakes
  • Able to explain technical things to non-technical people, and non-technical things to technical people
Payment approach Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

60%

Cultural fit

20%

Price

20%

Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Can you confirm what Ruby frameworks are currently (or intended) to be used through this work? We expect suppliers to use Ruby on Rails as the primary framework. We'd expect them to use and support the latest version where possible (5.2 for Rails, 2.3 for Ruby)
2. Can you please confirm the expected working pattern of resources on DFE sites e.g. 5 days a week, 3 days a week? Flexibility in working patterns is possible. There will be a need for co-location on DfE sites in order to deliver particular services. This will be defined on each SoW and on a sprint by sprint basis.
3. Can you please provide an early view on how the resources could be distributed across the locations of London, Coventry and Manchester? It is anticipated that there will be an even split of software development capability between sites. The initial focus will be on London and Manchester. Detail of which will be outlined in the SoW
4. You have mentioned in the Work setup section that “We are looking for Software Development capabilities to complement our agile development/delivery. We anticipate up to 8 concurrent engagements.”
Can you please elaborate on how many resources will be required as per your estimate on each of those 8 engagements.
We require the successful supplier to be able to scale capabilities and estimate this to be anywhere between 1 - 4 on each engagement.
5. You have specified in the Essential skills and experience section “Proven ability to develop software in Ruby using recent language and framework features”. Do you have any specific Ruby framework in mind which needs to be used to comply with the DfE standard? We expect suppliers to use Ruby on Rails as the primary framework. We'd expect them to use and support the latest version where possible (5.2 for Rails, 2.3 for Ruby)
6. You have specified in the Nice-to-have skills and experience section that “Experience with small agile teams, filling gaps in DevOps, QA, Technical architecture”. Although this is a nice-to-have skill do you have any indication of how many resources might be required to complement internal DfE team in the next 24 months? We require the successful supplier to be able to scale Software Development capabilities and estimate this to be anywhere between 1 - 4 on each engagement. We are yet to confirm the number of engagements over the next 24months
7. You have specified in the Nice-to-have skills and experience section that “Demonstrable ability to review the systems designs of others to ensure selection of appropriate technology”. Although this is a nice-to-have skill do you have any indication of how many resources might be required to complement internal DfE team in the next 24 months? We require the successful supplier to be able to scale Software Development capabilities and estimate this to be anywhere between 1 - 4 on each engagement. We are yet to confirm the number of engagements over the next 24months
8. You have mentioned in the Essential skills and experience section “Experience of developing with web technologies”. Can you please kindly elaborate what these technologies (front end, backend etc.) are? DfE digital's technology stack and approach consists of the following elements:
Microservices architecture, with internal HTTP and JSON REST based APIs for business logic and data access.

User facing websites built using Ruby on Rails, and deployed to the DfE Azure platform as a service (Azure AppService). Where possible we would encourage the use of Ruby as the core language for all the microservices on the system, hosted on the DfE Azure PaaS provided.

Code hosted in the DfE Digital Github repository, and the builds to be done via Travis-CI.
Answer split in two parts
9. You have mentioned in the Essential skills and experience section “Experience of developing with web technologies”. Can you please kindly elaborate what these technologies (front end, backend etc.) are? Part 2
Databases to be one of the provided managed databases on DfE Azure such as Postgres.

All services that need to integrate to DfE existing systems, such as CRMs, Legacy data stores or external reporting systems would be expected to use an "anti-corruption layer" architecture consisting of microservice that handles the integration APIs and keep the complexity or implementation details out of the core business logic.

Implementation of the technology stack to be configured using code rather than hand rolled and use Terraform as the preferred configuration system.
10. Are you looking for Ruby only experience, or does the Nice-to-have skills of C# and Node stand just as much opportunity with this work should there be a willingness to work with Ruby also? We would expect all new products to be built in Ruby on Rails unless a specific exception had been agreed. Having C# and Node in addition would be adventageous.
11. Will the supplier be responsible for the delivery management of any of the projects/services being developed, using their own Delivery Managers? There will be no requirement for a supplier to provide delivery management for any of the projects/services being developed under this opportunity
12. What is the expected schedule and profile for the onboarding of teams/roles over the initial months of the contract? This will be determined based on programme and project need
13. Are you looking to introduce a new, additional supplier to your current partner base, to increase overall capacity? We are looking for a supplier who is able to provide us with software development capabilities
14. Are you considering suppliers who work remotely, or do you need a full-time on-site presence? Flexibility in working patterns is possible. There will be a need for co-location on DfE sites in order to deliver particular services. This will be defined on each SoW and on a sprint by sprint basis.
15. What is the decision making process for deciding what technology is used for which project? Decisions are made dependant on what technology would be suitable for the project
16. Would the supplier be part of the decision making process for deciding what technology should be used? Yes the supplier would be part of the process. Evidence would need to be provided if there is a suggestion of deviating from the standard technology
17. Which Ruby version would suppliers be expected to use? The latest version of Ruby should be used. We'd expect them to use and support the latest version where possible (5.2 for Rails, 2.3 for Ruby). We may be open to use of other frameworks.
18. Is there an indication of the numbers of resources needed within this capability over the next 24 months? We don’t have a specific fixed number currently
19. What is the length of one of your engagements? It varies enormously. Beta's are longer than Discovery/Alpha. Beta’s are approximately 6 months, but could be longer
20. Do you have Web tech or specific framework in mind for front end developers? Most services will be be required to meet the digital service standard and will be assessed internally by DfE or externally by GDS to the digital service standard. This means that the tech will need to be built in a way that’s accessible i.e. works with screen readers and works in areas of slow mobile internet etc. That favours apps built in frameworks that support a progressive enhancement approach, rather than single page applications. There are obviously context where that doesn’t apply, but most apps will involve using HTML 5 and CSS3
21. Restful APis, Do you have or intend to use API management tools They’re not in use at the moment, but doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Decisions will be made on a project by project basis
22. Is there a single supplier who has been undertaking the discovery work? This isn’t a replacement to take over from a single supplier. This is a support element to the work
23. What is the potential security level needed for capability working in the department? Baseline security is the standard, there’s no assumption that there will be a need for anything higher
24. Is there a particular agile framework or process that you would like suppliers to fit into? We normally use Scrum/Kanban based, We like teams to fit into this and are not looking to use any agile scaled processes. We would like devs to work with some level of ambiguity and work in multi-disciplined teams
25. So you’re looking for flexibility not structured Framework? Yes
26. Is there any tooling in place for tasks and would you expect the supplier to provide any? There is no standard, we go with what works Trello,jira etc.
We wouldn’t expect the supplier to provide any tooling
27. What is the likely timeframe for the evaluation process i.e. shortlisting, proposal evaluation and award? We intend to carry out the evaluation process and award by the end of 2018.
28. Are there any benchmarks on Performance for each project. If yes what are the tools currently used? We assess performance based of compliance with the service manual. There are no specific tools used.
29. Are the Product Owners and Technical SMEs available for each engagement? Yes they will be
30. Do all applications to be developed, need to be compatible with mobile devices, tabs etc.? Yes, services must be compliant with the Government Service Standards
31. Do you use automation tools for testing? Yes, appropriate tools are assessed on a case by case basis. We aim to keep test coverage high in unit, integration and acceptance testing while allowing for rapid development cycles.
32. How many of the applications are to be developed from scratch and how many have to be modernised? We will be making technology decisions on a case by case basis for each service as part of discovery and alpha phases.