Awarded to Nimble Approach

Start date: Monday 1 July 2019
Value: £141,450
Company size: SME
Department for Education (DfE)

Find & Explore National Pupil Database Data: Live Public Beta - maintenance and development

6 Incomplete applications

3 SME, 3 large

4 Completed applications

4 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Thursday 11 April 2019
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 18 April 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 25 April 2019 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Live Public Beta phase: a multi-disciplinary, co-located agile team required to develop and maintain a metadata service, which will be used to provide support and guidance to users that need to understand the data that is held within the National Pupil Database.
Latest start date
Monday 3 June 2019
Expected contract length
12 months (plus the option of a further 12 months at the DfE's discretion)
Yorkshire and the Humber
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education (DfE)
Budget range
The maximum budget is £190K for the initial 12 month period of the contract.

Funding beyond the initial 12 months is subject to internal approvals.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The NPD is a world class research resource. However, the data within the NPD is complex.The previous method for users to find what data they required was to access a 42 tab Excel ‘data tables’ document.

This resulted in:

• Accessibility issue(s)
• Application errors - resulting in frustration and re-work for users and the NPD Production Team
• Potential users being put off applying for NPD

This led to the development of the Find & Explore Service which is essentially a metadata repository which now requires maintenance and iteration.
Problem to be solved
We are seeking a supplier with the skills and capability to maintain and develop the live Public Beta service from 3 June 2019.

We have a backlog of improvements which will need to be further researched and prioritised. This include:

• Online application form
• 'Shopping Basket' data variable picker - a feature that enbles users to choose specifc variables that can then be added to their application form
• Intergrate 'Standard Extracts' into the Find & Explore service
Who the users are and what they need to do
When planning research I need to identify available data that is relevant to my research so I can define my research

When applying for data I need to identify the data to ask for correctly so that I don’t waste time and effort having to reapply

When accessing DfE data I need to be able to find the data I have requested in the extracts I have been given so that I can analyse the data
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
We worked previously with Paper during the Discovery, Alpha and the Beta build stages.

We are on track to launch a Release 1.0 of the Public Beta during May 2019 and Paper will support and stabilise the service in the first month of its operation and handover to any incoming supplier.

Release 1.0 was developed in accordance with the Technology Code of Practice and the GDS service standards.

Shortlisted suppliers will receive a detailed information pack containing further information.
Existing team
DfE will provide:

Senior Responsible Owner
Deputy Service Owner
Product Manager
Business Analyst

The supplier is expected to provide the team roles required to maintain and develop the live Public Beta service to meet GDS service standards. For example, user researcher, delivery manager, developer, data analyst.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Co-located working from DfE's Sheffield office;
St Pauls Place, 125 Norfolk St
S1 2JF

Some travel to other DfE sites and to conduct research may be required.

Expenses must be included in the contract sum as there is no separate budget for this.
Working arrangements
This is a project that has been delivered in an agile way, meeting GDS service standards and in accordance with DfE programme, architectural, technical and security principles, standards and governance. The supplier will be expected to continue delivering the project in this way.

This will be public beta / live service and therefore technical support may be required.

We will manage the project using Statements of Work, one per product release, each specifying outcomes that must be delivered on a capped time and materials basis.
Security clearance
Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) is required for all team members. This will need to be in place before the team starts.

The supplier will also need to be compliant with DfE's Departmental Security Standards.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
All IPRs (as defined) in the Project-Specific IPRs and the Deliverables shall vest in the Buyer unconditionally and immediately upon their creation.

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
  • Evidence of supporting a live Public Beta / live service that requires service support.
  • Significant experience of delivering/iterating a live Public Beta service in an agile way, and in accordance with the Technical Code of Practice, including the Government Digital Standard (GDS) (
  • Experience of develping data products - especially metadata
  • Experience of developing web application in Ruby on Rails with PostgreSQL
  • Experience of review ongoing performance (i.e. Analytics, user satisfaction)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • A good understanding of the National Pupil Database, it's structure and it's content.
  • Experience with Azure Web App services
  • Knowledge of DfE digital services and the department’s architectural approach.

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstrate plan for handover, including knowledge transfer, ways of working, gaining familiarity with the existing systems
  • Outline how you will deliver value for money within the contract
Cultural fit criteria
  • Experience of working in multidisciplinary Agile teams within Government
  • Be comfortable standing up for their discipline(s) & challenge the status quo if or when required
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
Written proposal
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is there a current incumbent supplier in place at the moment? If so, are they applying for this?
There isn't an incumbent supplier in place.
2. You mention a knowledge and understanding of DfEs digital services and architecture. That automatically eliminated all vendors who haven’t worked with you before. Is there an incumbent and are they set up to tender?
The following were stipulated under the 'nice to have skills and experience'

1) A good understanding of the National Pupil Database, it's structure and it's content.
2) Experience with Azure Web App services
3) Knowledge of DfE digital services and the department’s architectural approach.

This link ( explains the evaluation and shortlisting process.

We do not have an incumbent supplier.
3. 1. Can open source software be used in achieving the requirements stated at the beginning?
2. Is there a requirement for ruby on rails to be used throughout, can other technologies be employed? especially if shown to be more robust and efficient?
1. Yes - see points 8 & 9 of the GDS service standard.

2. No. DfE Digital has a strong preference for a Ruby on Rails stack for development:

Ruby on Rails has been shown to be robust and efficient and has been proved to be suitable for this project. There is an existing code base and we will not consider a full re-write.
4. Could you please confirm how much of your existing team's time will be allocated to this project?
Around 50%
5. Can you please share your anticipated timelines for the written proposal, following the initial supplier evaluation?
We would be looking to have the written proposals with us by 8 May.