Awarded to Methods Business and Digital Technology Limited

Start date: Monday 1 April 2019
Value: £4,500,000
Company size: SME
Education and Skills Funding Agency (DfE)

Calculate Funding Service (CFS) systems agile development

10 Incomplete applications

7 SME, 3 large

13 Completed applications

9 SME, 4 large

Important dates

Thursday 6 December 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 13 December 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 20 December 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We are looking for a development partner to help deliver our Funding and Contracting digital transformation. This will be a mix of continuous improvement to existing systems and delivery of new systems through GDS phases. The supplier will work alongside the in-house digital team and cover all digital service roles.
Latest start date
Monday 1 April 2019
Expected contract length
Two years
Organisation the work is for
Education and Skills Funding Agency (DfE)
Budget range
The budget could range up to a maximum of £4.5m consisting of multiple SoWs, but that scope could expand or contract. DfE does not commit to any minimum spend at this point. A pricing template will be given at the proposal stage to those suppliers we shortlist.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Education and Skills Funding Agency is responsible for delivering all school and Further Education funding in England. The Funding and Allocation Service is undergoing a digital transformation and is looking for an agile partner to assist in delivering this. The challenges will range from bringing new products to live as well as shaping mature systems to support this transformation. The aim is to build an in-house capability across the three service lines. Each will have their own contract but flexibility to provide resources to the other service lines if necessary. (Details of this will be provided at proposal stage).
Problem to be solved
As an internal funding modelling and calculation service, the CFS service line needs to be enhanced and developed to meet the evolving business and policy needs and interface with other ESFA systems. This may require the spectrum of GDS agile roles (e.g. development, testing, business analysis, user research, design) which could become part of existing teams or form discrete delivery teams (discovery, alpha, beta) to address a business specific needs. We are looking for a partner to transition knowledge, skills and experience to help build this. Specific roles and skills required are detailed in the GDS Service Manual (
Who the users are and what they need to do
As an allocator responsible for funding working for the ESFA I need to interpret policy in order to model and calculate allocations to providers accurately so that integrated services can publish and pay funding to providers on time to deliver learning.
Early market engagement
Not applicable
Any work that’s already been done
The calculation service underwent a digital transformation 18 months ago and is being continuously improved to meet ESFA evolving service needs. The system calculates and manages contracts with training providers potentially allocate up to £62bn of payments to them a year. All the users are internal to the ESFA as with various integration points to financial allocation, publishing and payments systems.
Existing team
The existing teams are comprised of multi-disciplinary agile delivery skills. These teams are involved in continual product improvement as well as providing brand new digital services. Typical team size is up to 12 with a skills mix such as product/service managers, business analysts, developers, testing, architecture, user research and design professionals. These teams can have a mix of internal and external staff. The new supplier will be expected to provide resources across all or any of these roles according to the business need for the initiative.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Primary location will be Sanctuary Buildings, London. There is the potential for some work in Cheylesmore House, Coventry. Any travel to other sites to be approved and will follow the DfE's Travel and subsistence policy.
Working arrangements
This will be a 5 day per week (Monday to Friday) commitment and detailed working arrangements, including team location, size and make-up, will be contained within each statement of work. Day to day delivery will be governed by standard agile delivery techniques. These could be either a Kanban or a scrum approach (depending on the work) but the standard agile ceremonies appropriate to those will be undertaken. These will be monitored by the Delivery Manager and the Product Owner will be responsible for prioritising backlogs in refinement sessions.
Security clearance
Personnel from the Service provider need to have both BPSS and an enhanced DBS check.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Expenses must be pre-agreed and comply with DfE 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. No parking is available on site.

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
  • Experience within the last 3 years of building calculation modelling systems in a policy environment
  • Experience in building PaaS services in Microsoft Azure
  • Experience in working with identity and access security in Microsoft Azure PaaS environment
  • Experience in building services to meet the Digital by Default Service Standard
  • Experience building scalable server-less cloud-based web applications using Microsoft Azure stack
  • Detailed knowledge and experience of C#, .NET, ASP.NET MVC, REST API, Cosmos DB optimisation
  • Detailed understanding of front-end web development (HTML/CSS/JS/SignalR)
  • Experience in Agile Business Analysis and product backlog creation and management
  • Demonstrable experience of working in multi-team agile delivery programmes
  • Experience in Agile software testing
  • Experience of conducting user research, interpreting and presenting results
  • Experience of agile development, software patterns, continuous integration and Test Driven Development
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience in building customer or staff facing digital services
  • Experience of passing GDS service assessments
  • Experience in designing services that meet both user needs and business objectives

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Technical competence in the identified technologies and agile practices
  • Experience and methodology in approach to agile project using both Kanban and scrum
  • Demonstrable experience of working alongside clients in co-located, integrated teams, together with representative CVs of key roles
  • Demonstrate understanding/ability to deliver digital products/services to government Digital Service standards
  • Demonstrate approach to knowledge and skills transfer
  • Ability to scale up to full team and flex resource when needed on-site
  • Value for money
  • Demonstrate understanding of the challenges of implementing user centred design in a government agile environment
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team – Collaborate, establish good working relationships, generate team spirit
  • Innovate – Act on initiative, drive improvements, balance risks
  • Build capability – Encourage learning, share knowledge, address capability gaps, act on feedback
  • Focus on delivery – Focus on goals, set stretching targets, take responsibility for delivery
  • Approach to developing a "One Team" approach
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. Is there an incumbent supplier on this or that has been used before on similar projects within the department?
Yes, there are a number of suppliers that have been engaged, and currently continue to support delivery.
2. Would FinTech or Financial Services experience be acceptable to the buyer?
Developing digital services in a financial environment as experience would be acceptable. It is however important that experience must be relevant within a policy driven environment.
3. Are you able to tell us who completed the Discovery and Alpha phases of this project?
It was a mix of in-house talent and a third party, Methods.
4. Will a nearshore model, working in the same timezone from a country within Europe be acceptable? If not, would it be acceptable to have alternating weeks in the UK (on site) and other weeks offsite?
Due to the agile nature of the project, it is important that teams are co-located, hence this model would not be ideal
5. Can you please explain how this latest opportunity relates to a previous opportunity published on 29 Oct ..since the requirements look very similar?
The Calculate Funding Service (this project) and the Funding and Contracting Service both form part of a wider programme of funding and contracting digital transformation within the department. There is an integration point between the services.
6. You are at Beta, have you worked with a supplier for the Discovery and Alpha stages, and if so, will they have a chance to bid for this work?
We worked with a mix of in-house talent and a partner to deliver the Discovery and Alpha stages. They will have an opportunity to bid if they wish to do so.
7. Can you outline how you see "Capped Time and Materials" working please?
The definitions for Capped Time and Materials can be found on the GDS How to pay for Digital Outcomes page We will provide further information at the evaluation stage (second stage) around how to set out the pricing structure.
8. The RFP states a requirement to have policy modelling experience in the last 3 years. What types of policy experience would be suitable from the below list? Are there any other policy modelling experiences you would also consider (e.g. impact in private sector organisations)?
Local Authority, Central Government, Charity, European Union, United Nations
Experience within government would be of benefit, but other policy related experiences outside of government would also be considered.
9. Is this a re-tendering of the same opportunity by Funding and Contracting Service published Monday 29 October 2018? If so why is it being competed again?
No, The Calculate Funding Service (this project) is one of 3 services. These services form part of the wider programme of funding and contracting digital transformation within the department. There are integration points between the services.
10. Question 8 was answered with experience in government would be beneficial. When comparing policy experience, is there a hierarchy to it? Given the score of 2 being 'met', for example, would a supplier meet the requirement in the event they had UK Local and National Government experience, but not European, North American or United Nations experience? How would the supplier score in the event they didn't have policy experience inside government, but worked to deliver police in a NGO or arms-length?
The context is more important than whether the experience is Local Government or not. If the eperience is related to a service that is directly related to the policies being implimented then that will score higher than if the services are not directly related.
11. Is there a preference for local, London based suppliers?
There is no preference to the location of the supplier, however due to the agile nature of the project, it is important that teams are co-located onsite in London