Awarded to Methods Business and Digital Technology Limited

Start date: Monday 1 April 2019
Value: £1,400,000
Company size: SME
Education and Skills Funding Agency

Data/information collections using online forms - for education providers and the general public

8 Incomplete applications

6 SME, 2 large

14 Completed applications

9 SME, 5 large

Important dates

Friday 1 February 2019
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 8 February 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 15 February 2019 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
A flexible team of Business Analysts, User Researchers, Interaction Designers, Content Designers, Delivery Managers and programme support staff, to work across multiple projects in fast-paced agile delivery teams. The individuals put forward for work must have the essential experience, knowledge and technical skills set out in this proposal.
Latest start date
Monday 1 April 2019
Expected contract length
Up to 2 years
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Education and Skills Funding Agency
Budget range
Estimated at £1.4 million

About the work

Why the work is being done
The ESFA Data Collections systems are used to collect financial, participation, attainment and building information from Academy Trusts, Local Authorities, FE and Apprenticeship Providers and Diocese to inform its funding allocations, payments, services and market oversight remit. The data is collected through bulk upload, online forms and document exchange platforms. The Online forms functions needs support to develop new forms: (1) Business Analysts support for individual forms (2) a user centred design team consisting of User Researchers, Content Designers and Interaction Designers (3) Agile Delivery Managers (4) Programme support staff.
Problem to be solved
During 2018 and 2019, The ESFA will continue to automate it's data collections. We need to do this to become more user centred: we need to make sure any collections put the user at heart ; only collect data we need; collect it in a format that allows easy return by the customer; and makes ure that all data collections follow GDS guidelines for compliance with central government guidelines. Collecting data via the online forms service ensures data collected is goverened and stored in a central corporate data repository to increase it's quality and use across the department.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a customer ESFA/DfE I need to submit data returns to DfE so that they have everything they need to enable the allocation of my funding, payment of claims, or to make my mandatory returns/declarations..

As a member of the public I need a way to contact ESFA/DfE to raise an enquiry / register my interest in a campaign / raise any concerns

As a DfE civil servant, I need to be more efficient in collecting and processing a variety of data/information from customers to provide a high quality data collection and analysis service to all areas of DfE
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
We provide an online forms service - and have delivered and host over 60 forms currently. Last year we added a further 6 online collections. All are individual projects and follow Agile methodology. Projects follow DfE/GDS assessments where applicable. An example of a public facing, very simple form is our ESFA Enquiry Form (most of our forms require sign in)
This programme of work is for online collections, through to Data Transformation/Storage and Reporting. There are a number of new online forms being delivered, which are in Alpha and Beta stages, in addition there will be new projects arising.
Existing team
The supplier will be working with civil servants and multiple suppliers across various strands of work for delivery of the service. Typically within Agile delivery teams, working with Product Owners, Delivery Managers, Business Analysts, Developers, User researchers, Interaction designers, Content Designers, Testers and Project support staff.
Working with the team above, we are looking to put in place a contract to deliver the digital outcomes for DS online forms and this programme of work, which will also be supported by several capability contracts, for example, for testers and developers (which will also be advertised via DOS).
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Education and Skills Funding Agency, Cheylesmore House, 5 Quinton Road, Coventry CV1 2WT, with occasional travel to other locations nationwide.
Working arrangements
Onsite full-time 5 days a week co-located with the rest of the team at the ESFA offices in Coventry. Occasional travel to other ESFA (or partner organisation) offices may be required, subject to ESFA travel and subsistence policy. This programme uses agile methodology. Successful application of agile principles and techniques requires that the teams are co-located and able to work directly with colleagues representing digital delivery, operational and policy requirements.
Security clearance
The successful supplier must be able to demonstrate that all proposed team members have been subject to Baseline Personnel Security Standards checks. However higher levels of Security Clearance maybe required dependant on work agreed in the Data Science Programme of work.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Standard DOS framework and call-off terms and conditions. Expenses as per the ESFA travel and subsistence policy.

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
  • Proven experience in delivering digital projects and products
  • Proven experience of using a range of agile and lean practices, tools and techniques
  • Strong communication skills with the ability to proactively manage stakeholders by collaborating on decisions
  • Experience of being able to challenge and influence decisions
  • Proven experience balancing multiple priorities
  • Understanding of the digital landscape
  • Strong verbal, written and visual communication skills that you are able to tailor to the needs of the audience
  • Knowledge of the Government Digital Services design guidance.
  • Experience in matrix-managing multi-disciplinary teams
  • Demonstrable experience of delivering multiple projects in a fast paced environment
  • Experience of passing GDS assessments
  • Demonstrable experience of working in a User Centre Design team (User Research, Content Design and Interaction Design)
  • Demonstrable experience of user research, content design and interaction design within an environment working to the Government Digital Service Standards / Service Manual including the assessment process
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience in developing Data Science products/services in the UK education sector
  • Knowledge of current technologies used to build and operate digital data collection services
  • Experience of leading workshop to gather/understand requirements from a large group of stakeholders

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstrate/provide examples of how the supplier has worked with delivery teams in a product delivery role
  • Demonstrate/provide evidence of how the supplier contributes to building an effective multidisciplinary team
  • Demonstrate/provide evidence of the supplier’s approach to incorporating user needs and government needs into the product backlog and prioritises work effectively and efficiently
  • Demonstrate/provide evidence of how the supplier actively promotes understanding and acceptance of agile, user-centred delivery
  • Demonstrate/provide evidence of how the supplier has worked in a multi-team environment with multiple product owners collaborating to deliver a broader service
  • Demonstrate/provide evidence of ho the supplier has ensured knowledge transfer to permanent staff
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate courage (for example, express controversial views, confront reality, make tough decisions, question actions inconsistent with group behaviours, candid about progress/estimates)
  • Demonstrate vulnerability (for example, declare uncertainty, fear, recognise mistakes, apologise, acknowledge weaknesses)
  • Demonstrate responsibility (for example, act like a leader, serve your team, provide solutions to problems, engage in external/internal environments, seek the best for the organisation beyond your team)
  • Demonstrate simplicity (for example, take simple steps to goals, do less but better, mitigate failures, talk straight with respect)
  • Demonstrate excellence (for example, seek actionable feedback, set challenging targets, know users, deliver cost effective high level customer satisfaction)
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm (for example, bring whole self to work, celebrate success, share passion and energy with others, optimistic)
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Does ESFA have a clear view of the threat model being applied to the workstream?
Yes, deliverables will be compliant with DfE policy.
2. ESFA are procuring multiple workstreams in parallel, will ESFA consider staggering the procurement schedule?
No as workstreams will be delivered in parallel.
3. Can we ask what criteria ESFA will be using to judge whether an evidence answer 'exceeded' requirements and therefore scores full marks (3)?
Each question will be scored in line with the standard DOS methodology outlined on the CCS website.
4. Is the opportunity outside of IR35?
5. Are there key dates when users all regularly submit data at the same time, if so approximately when are these submission dates?
The procurement covers a workstream with multiple data collections, there is no peak submission date.
6. Will data collection force users to submit data in a consistent format, or will data be collected in different formats, different artefacts (Excel, PDF) etc
Data will be collected by forms designed within this programme of work - they will be very similar in style but all are online forms that users use to input data.
7. Does ESFA expect a single data collection online service for all users, or are their mutiple separate online collection services? If there are multiple, can you please describe these at a high-level?
There are multiple online collections - this programme of work relates to standing up new collections to replace manual collections, we are currently hosting 60 online forms and usually develop an additional 5 - 6 each year.
8. Has a Discovery for this requirement been completed? If so can you please share the outputs of Discovery?
There are typically 10-15 live projects in this workstream - all in different phases of delivery.
9. What is the high-level delivery roadmap for this requirement? i.e. Are there different workstreams, are there specific stages (Discovery, Alpha, Beta) and approximate schedule
There are typically 10-15 live projects in this workstream - all in different phases of delivery.
10. ESFA are procuring multiple workstreams. Please explain the structure in place to provide delivery governance and technical governance between different workstreams.
All workstreams within this programme are delivered under one programme management office.
11. What level of security clearance above BPSS would be required to work in the Data Science programme of work?
None - BPSS is sufficient.
12. Will higher levels of Security Clearance (above BPSS) be required to be deployed on 1st April? If so for which roles?
No, BPSS is sufficient.
13. Can you please share a copy of the DfE Travel and Subsistence Policy, or explain the key elements?
Expenses can only be claimed for meetings such as GDS assessments. Must be included in the RFQ and PO. Applied at the Managers discretion.
14. What roles does ESFA expect will need to be deployed by a supplier on 1st April?
All roles required.
15. Is the work starting 1st April commencing with a very specific phase of the government delivery lifecycle (i.e. Discovery, Alpha, Beta)? Alternatively, is the requirement to provide skilled people to work under ESFA's general direction?
The workstream includes various projects in all differing delivery phases.
16. Is this requirement to provide skilled people to work under the direction of ESFA, as opposed to supplier taking responsibility for achieving project outcomes?
Yes - under the direction of ESFA
17. Are you working with any existing suppliers in relation to this tender opportunity? If you are who are they?
Yes Methods, Parity and EAS.
18. Who in your team will be scoring applications for this opportunity and what positions do they hold?
Applications will be scored by senior management within the Data Science Division.
19. Can you host a call with suppliers about this opportunity where we can have a live Q&A and the discussion notes are shared on this tender ad? This has proven helpful on other DM opportunities.
We do not plan to hold a Q&A session but will provide more detail at the second stage.
20. Is this opportunity an extension or build on a previous phase of work?
This is an ongoing programme of work, with multiple projects in various phases of delivery.
21. Is there an incumbent supplier currently delivering these services? If so who is the supplier?
Yes, multiple suppliers have previously provided elements of this service.
22. Who is (are) your existing suppliers?
We do, we have worked with multiple suppliers on this programme, most recently Methods, Parity and EAS.
23. Can you please list out your existing tech stack?
Achieve Forms, Microsoft Dot NET, Microsoft Dynamics CRM; OPA (Oracle Policy Automation)
24. What stages in the procurement timeline does ESFA expect between 15th February and 1st April. In particular are there planned dates for proposal submission and presentation?
We expect to shortlist w/c 18th February, with evaluation panels planned for the first week of March.
25. Will scoring from the evidence stage be taken through to final evaluation scoring? As opposed to being solely used for the purpose of shortlisting?
Yes scoring will be taken through to the final evaluation stage.
26. Please can you provide details of what the next steps are following this initial application i.e deadlines for written proposal/ presentation?
Shortlisting will take place w/c 18th February, with evaluation panels scheduled for the first week of March.
27. Please can you provide details of what the next steps are following this initial application i.e deadlines for the written proposal/ presentation?
Shortlisting will take place w/c 18th February with evaluation panels scheduled for the 1st week of March.
28. Can you confirm the associated timelines for this opportunity beyond stage 1?
Shortlisting will take place w/c 18th February with evaluation panels scheduled for the 1st week of March.
29. Other than the existing departmental staff, are there any third party suppliers expected to work on this engagement?
Yes you may be required to work with other third party suppliers, who are contracted to other areas of the business.