The British Museum

BM.19.002 Collections Online (COL) Middleware Solution

Incomplete applications

7
Incomplete applications
5 SME, 2 large

Completed applications

7
Completed applications
7 SME, 0 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Wednesday 16 January 2019
Deadline for asking questions Wednesday 23 January 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Wednesday 30 January 2019 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Overview
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work An opportunity to work with the British Museum to build a middleware architecture to support the Collections Online offering to a global audience
Latest start date Monday 1 April 2019
Expected contract length
Location No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for The British Museum
Budget range Development costs of around £75,000 excl VAT

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done The current COL infrastructure is over 5 years old and no longer fit for purpose following 1) an upgrade of the Museum's collection database (MI+), and 2) the redevelopment of the Museum's website which acts as the front end of the COL solution. While a separate project is underway to redevelop the COL front end we are here seeking an external company with extensive experience in developing middleware to design and build a solution which provides collection data and information to a public facing web interface.
Problem to be solved The existing solution uses non-modern and redundant technology components which are not compatible with the Museum's collection database MI+ and has led to a situation where the Museum's front end COL is no longer being updated with object and image data.
Who the users are and what they need to do The end users of the data provided by this system are the people searching for the objects on the website. However, only the Collection Management, Information Services (IS) and Digital teams within the British Museum will be using the middleware when they need to make changes or updates to the integration
Early market engagement As part of our discovery work and options appraisal with our internal Business Analyst team, we carried out a series of consultations with peer organisations to identify technological choices and the decisions behind them across the sector. Once we were clearer on our preferred options, a third party agency was engaged to provide technical consultation and validation against our cost estimates and recommendations. This has lead us to conclude that to align with our requirements we want to proceed with cloud-native services to create data ingest functionality and a Collection API which can be consumed by any application that needs it.
Any work that’s already been done Proof of concept started on the Collection Management System API
Existing team The supplier will be working with the overall programme team. On this project the BM Team will consist of a Project Manager, Product Owner, Business Analyst and shared testing and content resources.
There will also be close links with the website agency who are developing the front end and the supplier of the Collection Management System
Current phase Not started

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place The BM team is based entirely at the British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG, we do not expect the supplier to deliver the work from our site
Working arrangements It is expected to be a mixture of on-site and off-site working. If on-site, the contractor will be working at the British Museum site in London. We would expect regular weekly progress calls as well as show and tell sessions (pre-scheduled) as the project progresses. The BM team can also spend time onsite at the supplier's location if required. You should include budget for travel in your pricing submission
Security clearance Baseline Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance will be required before commencement of work. The Museum can assist with obtaining this clearance.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions Any additional terms and conditions will be confirmed during final contract negotiations.

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
  • Demonstrable experience of developing middleware infrastructure projects to present Museum or Art Gallery object records and data to a website search function. These will have to be live working examples
  • Has in-depth understanding of how museum object records are structured and organised and how this is different to standard databases
  • Has experience in working with web designers and agencies to deliver linked up end product
  • Has experience of Image handling and transformations
  • Has experience of API integration and development
  • Has experience of large search engine implementations
  • Has experience of building site wide searches such as ElasticSearch, Lucene, Solr.
  • Experience in working with large cultural organisations
  • Must be Cyber Essentials or ISO27001 compliant prior to commencement of work and be able to provide copies of certification.
Nice-to-have skills and experience Team passionate about public engagement and cultural institutes

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 4
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstrate the proposed technical solution is fit for purpose and meets the requirements (Further details of criteria and scoring will be provided after shortlisting.)
  • Proven relevant development skills and experience from case studies and references.
  • Demonstrate that the team has relevant individual qualification and skills and capacity to complete work.
  • Demonstrate how the project will be kept on track, meet requirements and delivered to time and to budget.
  • Demonstrate how risks and dependencies will be identified, and managed.
  • Demonstrate outline of approach to testing, quality assurance and training and support.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate an affinity and support for the aims and mission of the British Museum. Will likely to have worked with similar large cultural organisations.
  • Demonstrate experience of working as a team with client organisations and other project stakeholders.
  • Flexibility to work with the Museum’s waterfall project and programme governance framework.
Payment approach Capped time and materials
Assessment methods Written proposal
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

45%

Cultural fit

20%

Price

35%

Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Has in-depth understanding of how museum object records are structured and organised and how this is different to standard databases
Would the database schema and any relevant documentation be sharable?
The successful bidder would be working closely with the supplier of the Collection Management System who would provide the information required. A full list of fields and an overview API specification would be part of the information given to shortlisted suppliers
2. We understand BM undertook market consultation with similar institutions. Did other peer organisation discuss the level of cost for equivalent collections APIs? We have worked on similar projects and are concerned about the budget. Is there is any further contingency beyond the current budget allocated? The estimated budget will be determined as part of the procurement process, with contingency built in. During the immersion phase, a final fixed cost will be determined
3. Would we be able to study the mentioned “Proof of concept started on the Collection Management System API” and discuss it with web product owner(s) and technical staff before committing to a quote? A full list of required fields and an overview API specification would be part of the information given to shortlisted suppliers prior to quote being requested as part of final ITT
4. What work has been done to date on the design of the API – e.g., do you have a documented model for what the API exposes (either informally or a published ontology), or is that modelling work part of the project? If the API is led by the requirements of the yet-to-be-designed Collections Online front end, there could be many emerging requirements that are difficult to predict and estimate for at this stage (e.g., the way objects link to one another and their membership of sets/collections). The requirements of COL front end are signed off and will be provided as part of the RFP documentation for shortlisted suppliers. As part of the immersion phase this will be specified in more detail before a final fixed cost is agreed on.
5. What work has been done on mappings from source record data in MI+ to the required API? Is documentation available? A full list of required fields and an overview API specification would be part of the information given to shortlisted suppliers prior to quote being requested as part of final ITT. A set of sample data fields and their mappings will be also provided. As part of the immersion phase the precise mapping and functionality will be determined and documented prior to a final fixed cost is agreed on
6. It mentions “Image handling and transformations” – does this mean that one of the functions of the API is to serve images, and if so, does this mean images at multiple resolutions from a common master, and/or regions of master images, and/or tiles for consumption by deep zoom viewers? That is, is the API also an image server? If this is the API being consumed by the front end then yes, it will need to serve images with the functionality described.
7. Can you confirm that following are part of this engagement:
Design and development of a data transformation pipeline from source(s) including MI+ into Lucene-backed store/search engine
Final design of COL API, working with the front end appointed supplier
API delivery of metadata about one object, so that a COL web page can construct a description of that object.
Can you confirm that following are part of this engagement:
Design and development of a data transformation pipeline from source(s) including MI+ into Lucene-backed store/search engine > Yes
Final design of COL API, working with the front end appointed supplier > Yes
API delivery of metadata about one object, so that a COL web page can construct a description of that object. > Each object has a set of data, all or some of which will need to be available to the website, either through search or individual objects
8. Can you confirm that following are part of this engagement:
API delivery of metadata about a set of objects, so that a COL web page can construct an aggregation page.
Delivery of images of objects
Execution of searches for objects (search scheme to be designed, assume free text, facets, date ranges, collections)
API delivery of metadata about a set of objects, so that a COL web page can construct an aggregation page. > Search and retrieval of lists of objects is part of the front end requirements which the API will need to support. Each object will be listed separately on the page.
Delivery of images of objects > Yes
Execution of searches for objects (search scheme to be designed, assume free text, facets, date ranges, collections) > Yes
9. We have a lot of experience solving exactly the kinds of problems you need to solve with this project, but in relation to large collections of scientific and other assets. However you are very focused on evaluating the cultural sector experience of suppliers, rather than the problem-space experience. We feel experience of the problem space rather than the cultural sector is more valuable. Would you reconsider the sector-focus of your questions and evaluations? Cultural sector data is generally very different to other sectors in its structure and heirarchies, and we have found that other sectors underestimate the complexity.
10. Can you please confirm how many data sources and what technology they are on? There are two main data sources. The Collection Management System is on a propriatory database, the Digital Assets is based on ADAM. The integration is with an API of each
11. Would it be correct to assume that this is a multi-tiered solutions consisting of web layer, middleware and back data sources? If not, can you clarity the configuration? Correct. This development is for the middleware layer only.
12. Do you have a preference for languages and frameworks in which the API should be written? For example Python+Falcon? The API should be JSON based, but other than that we do not have a stated preference on language, but it would be agreed with the front end development team in the immersion phase