Awarded to Equator

Start date: Friday 15 March 2019
Value: £160,000
Company size: SME
VOICE (, The National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle University

NU/1435 Supply of Website Development Services for VOICE Digital Platform

25 Incomplete applications

23 SME, 2 large

20 Completed applications

20 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Monday 12 November 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 19 November 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 26 November 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
- To understand the project and required functionality;
- Review current build, database and hosting
- Present ideas, novel solutions and design to develop detailed specifications;
- Create comprehensive, phased and flexible project plan;
- Use plan to develop new functionality and optimise the platform, with phased implementation.
Latest start date
Monday 7 January 2019
Expected contract length
1 year
North East England
Organisation the work is for
VOICE (, The National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle University
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
VOICE was established by Newcastle University to capture the vast experience and mental capital of the public. The digital platform was launched in Autumn, 2016, and has revolutionised the ways in which members of the public can contribute their experience, ideas, insights and vision to benefit research and innovation, especially around ageing.

We will require a comprehensive review of the current digital platform, work to understand current and future organisational needs and develop planned solutions to deliver a leading digital infrastructure to support the achievement of our aspirations.

Phased implementation with initial functionality completed by March/April 2019
Problem to be solved
We are seeking to review the web platform with a view to future-proofing the organisation, scaling activity, building enhanced functionality and ensuring that we can meet the demands of a number of anticipated contracts with organisations looking to use the platform to coordinate their own "Patient & Public Involvement" activities.
Who the users are and what they need to do
- collaborating organisations/content editors
Upload, manage and coordinate content via an Admin dashboard
- researchers/industry
Submit requests for posting new Opportunities (promotion of workshops & events, online discussions, live stream events); Facilitate online discussions
- public
View & register for available opportunities to get involved with research and innovation (workshops, online discussions, live stream events); manage their involvement in activities via a Profile dashboard; to stay informed about cutting edge research about health and ageing across the life course.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The existing digital platform has allowed us to significantly scale our activity to better serve the public, as well as offering innovative ways for researchers and businesses to harness the public’s ideas and knowledge.

This will be the third phase of development and will review and improve the existing functionality, as well as developing new features to enable us to enhance the platform and meet future demands.
Existing team
You will be working with the VOICE team, including the Director of VOICE, the in-house developer, project manager and project support officer.

There may also be a requirement for communication with existing and future stakeholders, as well as focus groups with VOICE members.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
This will be determined as per the requirements of the commission. Newcastle University (occasionally for meetings) but you can work remotely.
Working arrangements
As this is online development we expect the majority of work to be done remotely but we would expect to have regular update and development meetings.
Security clearance

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
  • Good technical knowledge and significant experience of Umbraco CMS
  • Available capacity to provide sufficient, suitably qualified and experienced resources to meet project deadlines and requirements
  • Use a form of version control for testing developments and releasing scheduled updates
  • Experience of integration with external systems via API or Web Services
  • Capability developing GDPR compliant systems
  • Have proven experience designing and building secure databases
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Provide professional User Experience services to review and redesign the site layout
  • Demonstrate experience of designing services for users with low digital literacy
  • Demonstrate experience of co-designing web platforms with input from different stakeholder groups.
  • Excellent frontend development skills
  • Wireframing and prototyping for redesigning and new feature design
  • Highly experienced in optimised mobile design for accessibility
  • Initial and then iterative research and testing
  • Proven method of project management (Agile)
  • Provide experience of delivering at scale

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Technical solution
  • Approach and methodology
  • How the approach or solution meets user needs
  • How the approach or solution meets the project goals
  • Estimated timeframes for the work
  • Identification of risks and dependencies and approaches to manage them
  • Team structure
  • Value for money
Cultural fit criteria
  • Transparent and collaborative working culture
  • Work as a team with our organisation and other stakeholders
  • Strong focus on user experience
  • Proactive approach to problem-solving
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. 1. Is there any requirement document, architecture document, future requirement document available which can be shared?
We don't have a document to share at this time.
2. Is there approximate timelines in place like when will Round 1 evaluation be done, resume sharing, interview, contract award etc.?
Interviews and decision before Christmas, to start work on the after Christmas.
3. What are the technologies used for current platform?
Umbraco CMS, ASP.NET, SQL, C#, JavaScript, Angular JS, HTML5, CSS4
4. Are you open to implement your new web portal from scratch without using Umbraco CMS or any CMS solution?
5. Would you be open to using Drupal 8 as the CMS instead of Umbraco?
6. Was a single external supplier involved in any way in the previous two phases?
Yes, we have had a single external supplier for the current web platform from the start.
7. What version of Umbraco is the current build using?
v7.7.13, but we want the supplier to have a plan for testing and rolling out new updates as and when appropriate, and anticipating new functionality within v8.
8. What is being used for hosting at the moment e.g. on-premise, Azure/AWS/third party IAAS or PAAS?
Hosting is provided and managed by the current external supplier. We will be looking to either use Umbraco Cloud or set up our own hosting on a virtual server which will hold the Umbraco build and appropriate access provided with an appropriate Version Control System (e.g. Git). Solutions for hosting are open for discussion.
9. Can you please clarify that the initial stage (start date, team expertise, evidence) needs to be submitted by 26th November and shortlisted agencies will then go through to receive further information in order to prepare for the interview stage?
Suppliers will not be given further information. Our view of what our requirements may be is detailed below. We expect you to guide us based on skills and experience demonstrated at the tender/interview stages:

• Enhancement of querying the information via text mining/natural language processing
• API/Web Services use to incorporate external applications/data
• UX site review
• Advanced filtering functionality
• User profile/dashboard development
• Enhancing facilities for tailored content
• Forums development
• Enhanced online discussion features
• Area for users to submit new research/content ideas
• Enhanced functionality for online courses - create repository for resources (documents/videos/links/etc.)
10. Having been rejected previously by Newcastle University because we submitted a company rate instead of a daily rate, even though we were 3 times cheaper than the selected suppliers, and no rate card was requested (illegitimate rejection) are Newcastle University clear how the budget and pricing will be evaluated this time? How has procurement practise at tender stage improved in the last 2 years?
The specification asks for capped time and materials. We would expect you to quote the daily rate you will charge for this contract so that we understand and can assess what on we would pay.
11. Does the tender's capped T&M require:
a) blended rate per person
b) rate per company (where we offer several people for one price)
c) a specific rate card per job role
Since they are NOT the same thing. What is the organisation evaluating this on? Just so suppliers don't waste their time again.
Regular T&M is either a) or c) would Newcastle University reject a company (again) who offered b)?
The rate should be a daily rate per person. The cap will be agreed at the beginning of each phase of work as the contract progresses.

If you believe you have a more cost effective way to provide the contract please quote it IN ADDITION to the manner required above.
12. How essential is existing experience with Umbraco CMS? We have used this very lightly in the past and have no problem developing a solution using this CMS but we cannot say that we have "Good technical knowledge and significant experience of Umbraco CMS".
Good technical knowledge and significant experience of Umbraco CMS is a critical requirement for this project. You must be able to demonstrate this in your submission.
13. Are you actively seeking a new supplier to replace the incumbent external supplier?
We are seeking the best supplier available as determined by the criteria detailed in the requirements. This will be determined by the assessment criteria published in this invitation.
14. In relation to answer number 11. The Digital Marketplace does not allow any such information to be provided. So we assume this will be evaluated after the shortlisting has been completed and a written tender submission is to be provided.
In a scenario where an alternative more cost effective method is provided, will the evaluation take into account the baseline rate card in the T&M, or will it evaluate on the alternative, more cost effective method?
There is more than 1 option for the method of pricing engagements allowed in the Digital Marketplace. The University has selected Capped T&M. If you feel one of the other methods is more suitable and can demonstrate this please quote it IN ADDITION to the requested method. The University will review it as part of our assessment but no guarantee is given or implied that it will be acceptable. If the alternative method of pricing can in the opinion of the University be demonstrated to better suit our requirements we will issue a clarification to all bidders.
15. Newcastle University previously tendered for agile framework suppliers. 3 suppliers were appointed as part of this framework and this framework is still within time. Why is Newcastle University not going to those suppliers in the first instance?
This is a new separate requirement.
16. With regards to Excellent frontend development skills – are you able to provide more guidance. This could mean high end animation, speed and performance or accessibility.
Speed, performance and excellent knowledge of frontend technologies, AJAX and User Experience design
Languages: JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS
Frameworks: Bootstrap, Angular
Libraries: jQuery
17. Question 14 hasn't been answered. It is NOT in relation to what the tenderer can see in the marketplace. It is what the bidder can see. In the event a bidder submits an alternative pricing model and evaluation of the tender after the closing date determines the alternative pricing model would be demonstrably better, clarification is immaterial. As it is after the closing date & thus after the clarification period. How does the evaluation contend that will happen?
The tender is issued on a Capped Time and Materials basis. The University believes this method most appropriate. It is your commercial decision what Fees to quote and how you calculate them. Any contract awarded will be on the basis of the quoted Fees.

If during the evaluation the University believes an alternative pricing model to be more suitable we will inform all bidders and clarify this. All bidders will be given a fair and equal opportunity to requote their fees in line with the changed requirement. We will determine the most appropriate method to do this should this occur.
18. Question 14 hasn't answered question 11. Since there are several T&M options available. The Digital Marketplace does not differentiate between T&M at company or role level. How does the tenderer propose to evaluate a company wide price versus a role based price, when both are T&M?
It is your commercial decision what to include in the quoted Fees. The daily rate quoted will be used for the purpose of the assessment.
19. Who completed the first two phases of this project?
The University does not consider this question relevant for this tender.
20. In answering answer 18, we then return to question 11. What daily rate models are you willing to accept for the capped T&M, given that you have previously rejected more effective costing models without asking bidders to requite previously? Is the insinuation that you WILL ask for comparative quotes from other bidders in such an event?
A daily rate for a suitably qualified and experienced person must be quoted. The Contractor will be paid this rate for their services.

A capped T&M rate is required. You will be disqualified if you do not quote this. If as an alternative you wish to demonstrate a more cost effective model allowed under the CCS framework is more appropriate this would be a change from the advertised contract. If we agree the alternative model is more appropriate AND choose at our sole option to change the method of pricing ALL suppliers will be given an opportunity to meet this.
21. Are you satisfied with the quality of the work that has already been completed by the incumbent on the first two phases of the project?
This question is not relevant to the tender.
22. Where is submitted form data being stored, e.g. for Project Enquiry? Is this in the CMS (Umbraco) database, or other? If other, is this a database on the same database server?
In the CMS database on same server. We will be moving to a different server though, TBD.
23. Are Opportunities/Events and related details created and stored natively in the CMS (Umbraco), or provided to the CMS from another system?
Created natively in the CMS
24. Where is the data submitted for Opportunity and Event participation stored (for events that are not linked to an external system for registration, such as Eventbrite)?

Is this in the CMS (Umbraco) database, or other? If other, is this a database on the same database server?
In the CMS database on same server. We will be moving to a different server though, TBD.
25. What platform is currently being used for live streaming?
YouTube with embedded code in the CMS content
26. What third-party system integrations need to be considered, e.g. CRM, marketing tools, event management solutions, etc.? Which are currently in place, using what mechanisms (e.g. RESTful API/JSON), and which are road-mapped for future implementation?
There are currently no third-party integrations, but we are looking to implement some.
27. Are any third-party Umbraco packages/back-office extensions being used, e.g. Umbraco Forms, Umbraco Courier, uSync, etc.?
Yes, about 12 third-party packages, like Umbraco Forms, uSync, Icon Picker, Cogworks Find and Replace, and 4 bespoke packages.
28. Has any user research been conducted? If so, will the results (or a summary of them), be available to review at any stage during the procurement process?
We have nothing to share at this stage.
29. Besides Recite, is any other accessibility software being used, e.g. auditing software such as Siteimprove?
Just Recite at the moment, although we may be open to using Siteimprove.
30. Can access to/a summary of web analytics be provided, either now or later in the procurement process?
We have nothing to share at this stage.
31. Is taxonomy currently being used in the Umbraco back-end for content
Taxonomy is used to categorise certain elements within the CMS.
32. Do you have any existing user research deliverables on which you have based the functionality and content of the current solution?
Yes, we have used these deliverables to create and develop the current functionality of the site, and we will continue to create more user research deliverables for this next phase of development.
33. Do you have any specific measurables connected to objectives which you can use to determine the effectiveness of your digital offering?
We use Google Analytics to monitor site traffic and check the effectiveness of new objectives. We also regularly consult user groups for feedback.
34. You describe the requirements to understand the current and future needs of the organisation. Do you feel these are well understood or are you looking for a strategic review of the objective and activities of VOICE?
The strategic objectives and activities of VOICE are well understood and established.
35. Do you have an existing content strategy or content governance process for the site?
Yes, we have an existing Content Strategy and Governance Process already.
36. Do you feel that the current content and functionality available on the platform is a fair reflection of the content and functionality you wish to have going forward?
Yes, it is a fair reflection of content type, but we are looking to enhance and add to the current functionality and allow for scaling.
37. You reference co-designing skills with different stakeholders groups – are these all internal, or do you have capabilities/needs to work with external bodies?
The stakeholder groups we are referring to will be external Focus Groups and Workshops with the VOICE members and collaborators.