Awarded to Deloitte LLP

Start date: Monday 1 July 2019
Value: £2,000,000
Company size: large
Education and Skills Funding Agency (DfE)

Improved Customer Experience - user centred design, self-serve support & better customer engagement

11 Incomplete applications

9 SME, 2 large

30 Completed applications

20 SME, 10 large

Important dates

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


Summary of the work
We are looking for an agile partner to help us develop and deliver our customer experience programme. This pioneering work will make it easier and more efficient for customers to work with the ESFA.
Latest start date
Wednesday 1 May 2019
Expected contract length
One year with an option to extend for a further year.
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Education and Skills Funding Agency (DfE)
Budget range
The budget could range up to a maximum of £2m per year 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 (ESFA) is responsible for delivering all school and Further Education funding in England. We need to improve our customer experience, so that education / training providers can focus on delivering better educational outcomes. Customers want easier access to our services and information, the ability to self-serve when they need help and access to a customer engagement centre where they cannot self-serve. The bulk of this work needs to be done by April 2020.
Problem to be solved
Some customers find it hard to work with the ESFA. They cannot easily find our services, they struggle to understand all of the guidance/policies, they have to use multiple ESFA service desks for support and find it frustrating that the ESFA does not have a holistic view of them. We need to put customers at the heart of what we do by designing, building and running services to address these issues.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a training / education provider, I need to use ESFA services so that I can access government funding to provide training / education to eligible citizens in England.

As an ESFA internal user (business operations), I need a holistic view of training / education providers so that I can ensure we make best use of government funds and resolve any issues.

As a training / education provider, I need a simple way of resolving queries so that I can focus on delivering better educational outcomes.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The Service Design team started a discovery in January 2019 and will complete that in March 2019 to consider service design improvements, self-serve support software and business requirements for a CRM type system to give a holistic view of customers. This work will be prioritised and taken into alpha.

The Customer Engagement team completed a discovery in January 2019 to understand the requirements for a single ESFA customer engagement centre to resolve straightforward queries. This work needs to be developed further in alpha.
Existing team
The existing team is a Service Owner, a Product Owner and a Lead Content Designer who are all experienced in the agile delivery of GDS services. There are no other suppliers, but there is an expectation that the supplier will work with our in-house DevOps colleagues and the technical architect allocated to this programme.

The new supplier will be expected to provide resources across user research, content design, UX design, software development, technical architecture, testing, business analysis, delivery / transition management, project support roles according to the business need for the initiative.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Primary location will be Coventry or Sheffield. There may be travel to other DfE Office.
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 in delivering GDS products/services, carrying out user research to capture and define user needs.
  • • Experience in designing, prototyping and developing services to meet user needs
  • • Experience in architecture services, ensuring products and systems are robust, scalable, open source and secure
  • • Experience in running, improving and optimising applications
  • • Experience in building cloud-based web applications (preferably Microsoft Azure) and developing front-end web applications
  • • Demonstrable experience of working in multi-team agile delivery programmes
  • • Experience of delivering business change and transitioning from one supplier to another
  • • Experience of working with stakeholders at all levels to identify, define and document requirements
  • • Experience of undertaking methodical technical analysis and proposing recommendations to senior management teams
  • • Experience of working in the public sector and with systems or services to improve customer experience, such as CRMs, customer engagement / contact services
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • • Experience of passing GDS service assessments
  • • Experience of developing and implementing customer experience programmes
  • • Experience of transitioning from one service provider to another

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • • Demonstrate experience in researching, designing and prototyping digital products/services in line with Government Digital Service standards
  • • Demonstrate experience in developing, testing and delivering digital products/services to meet Government Digital Service standards
  • • Demonstrate experience of development, architecture and DataOps, ideally in the Microsoft platform
  • • Demonstrate experience of using an agile project approach (Kanban, scrum or both) to deliver a digital product/service
  • • Demonstrable experience of working alongside clients in co-located, integrated teams, together with representative CVs of key roles
  • • Demonstrate approach to knowledge and skills transfer
  • • Ability to scale up 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
  • • Demonstrate experience in developing CRM type services to meet customer / business needs
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
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. You state that the address where the work will take place will primarily be be Coventry or Sheffield. As a south coast based agency can we ask if there is the option for remote working for this opportunity? or does all works be required on site?
Depending on the project/work package there may be opportunities to occassionally work from home but the expectation would be that for the majority of the time, the location would be either Coventry or Sheffield (determined by the specific project requirements) with additional travel to other locations e.g. London, Manchester, Newcastle.
2. Please can you clarify if the following team resources are in-house or provided to ESFA by an incumbent supplier.
We have a current team of permanent staff and would like to supplement these role.
3. Can you confirm if the budgets listed exclude VAT?
Inclusive of VAT
4. What roles are ESFA expecting suppliers to provide in the first instance? In addition, are you expecting all roles to have the ability to be full time?
Delivery manager, BAs, technical lead, transition manager User Research, Technical architect, , Developer, Project Support , Testers. We would like the roles to have the abilitity to be full time.
5. In order to compare suppliers like for like, how will price be evaluated?
We will ask for prices for a specific range of roles which we will set out in the second stage of the evaluation. Then each suppliers costs can be compared.
6. Will the scores from the evidencing round be taken through to final evaluation? Or will they only be used for the purposes of shortlisting suppliers?
Scoring from the evidence stage will be taken through to final evaluation scoring but will only represent a percentage of the total score for Technical fit.
7. How many ESFA services currently exist and are therefore the basis for this project?
Dozens of services already exist for example: Service design to make them easier to find, better joined, but possibly adding in a consistent set of key tools - such as self serve support, feedback and customer satisfaction. Customer Engagement Capabilities to help us understand our customer engagement requirements
8. Has any other supplier been engaged with this project so far?
One supplier has supplied some resources to support the 3 month discovery project.
9. What roles are currently in ESFA's Service Design Team? Will all these people be available for the next phase of the project?
Service Owner, Product Owner and Lead Content Designer. Yes.
10. Will there be a full time Product Owner provided by ESFA to this project?
11. Are ESFA able to recruit and provide access to users for the purpose of user research?
The ESFA can provide access to users. It will be down to User Researchers to recruit them for UR sessions.
12. Are ESFA able to continue straight into a Beta phase with the same supplier with no air gap between phases?
Yes but subject to internal DfE approvals processes
13. Is there a preferred technology stack within the ESFA estate?
Microsoft Azure, Dynamics, .NET
14. What is your expected timeline for procurement after the first round of scoring (evidence answers)?
We would like to award the contract by 1/5/19 and have our winning supplier in place as soon as possible
15. Can the outputs of Discovery be shared with suppliers?
Yes we will consider this for the second stage of the evaluation.
16. Is there one particular service that is expected to form the basis for the Alpha phase being procured?
We have the 2 workstreams ie Service Design and Customer Engagement Capabilities project moving into Alpha ie Service design making it easier to find information, better joined, but possibly adding in a consistent set of key tools - such as self serve support, feedback and customer satisfaction and Customer Engagement Capabilities to help us understand our customer engagement requirements and standardise support channels, service level agreements and so on . There is other ongoing work in the wider programme we would like this contract to cover
17. Do you desire an organisation that has experience passing GDS assessments or just certain individuals within the team
We would want the organisation to have experience and /or the people who will be working on this project.
18. What specific scope/phase of work will the proposal from suppliers be assessed on?
The suppliers will be assessed on evidenced experience in delivering similar customer experience projects in the public sector, illustrating the full range of skillsets they provided - user research, UX, content, dev, integration, testing, deployment etc. We will consider sharing further information for the second stage of the evaluation.
19. What is the outcome that the first SoW will be based on?
This will be worked out with the winning supplier once the procurement process has been completed.
20. At a high level, what was the business case that introduced this work? Specifically, why was the Discovery started?
Discovery looked at services following merger of Education Funding Agency and Skills Funding Agency.
21. Will ESFA be able to organise access to stakeholders throughout the project?
22. Is this project based on improving an existing service? If so, what is this service?
Yes. The agile partner will be working on creating a holistic of view of the customer , service design to create an easy way in for core customers to access services, information and support and other ongoing projects.
23. Who will be on the assessment panel for this procurement? What roles do they have?
Panel members will be made up from members from the Customer Experience Service Design and Customer Engagment Teams
24. As per DOS guidance, do you only want one example for each essential or nice to have requirement?
You can include one or more examples. The scoring will reffect the quality of the response, not the amount of examples given.
25. What are ESFA expecting to see from an answer to the 'skills and experience' in order to score it 3 marks (exceeding)?
Clear and defined criteria are shown in the procurement documentation - Need to evidence experience in delivering similar customer experience projects in the public sector, illustrating the full range of skillsets they provided - user research, UX, content, dev, integration, testing, deployment etc.
26. Could you please share the Discovery report and any any progress information on alpha delivery ?
Yes we will consider this for the second stage of the evaluation.
27. One of the essential criteria asks about '...transitioning from one supplier to another'. One of the nice to haves mentions '...transitioning from one service provider to another'. Can you provide a clear distinction between the two please?
This means that we are looking at business change, which involves understanding our customer engagement requirements and recommending customer service standards
28. What do you mean by Experience of transitioning from one service provider to another? Is this, for example, taking over from an incumbent or handing over to a new provider at the end of the project?
This means that we are looking at business change which involves understand our customer engagement requirements and recommending customer service standards
29. Does the Education and Skills Funding Agency team have a preferred development toolset for delivery of the service e.g. Django, Ruby or.Net?
30. I notice that you state an initial discovery has already been undertaken between January and March of this year around both Service Design and Customer Experience. Is it possible for potential suppliers to view the high level output of this work just to understand the scope and deliverables that it covered in order to avoid duplication within proposals?
We can provide one of the discovery outputs to the supplier who has been successfully through the sift.
31. 1.   Are you regularly issuing surveys to obtain feedback of the customer experience?
We have undertaken some user research as part of our discovery. However, the ESFA can provide access to users and would like the user researcher to put this process in place.
32. 2.   If so are you reviewing that feedback and acting on it in a proactive way automatically and through your customer team?
We have undertaken some user research as part of our discovery. However, the ESFA can provide access to users and would like the user researcher to put this process in place.
33. 3.   What are the top 5 issues your customers have?
We’ve been reviewing customer experience and our engagement strategy.
We’ve found that customers describe lots of challenges.
They struggle to understand when, where and how to engage with us.
They find segmented messaging makes it difficult to respond to changing requirements.
They report a lack of consistency in engagement mechanisms and customer journeys. 
They say there’s duplication of effort when accessing different funding programmes – made more difficult by multiple contracts and differences in technical language.
We don’t have a central understanding of customer’s needs, which means that we can’t plan service improvements.
34. 4.   Do you plan to upgrade your Microsoft CRM solution to take advantage of the many enhancements in D365 Customer Engagement and Service?
35. 5.   Are you marketing your services to those that will benefit?
36. 6.   Do you listen to Social Media? is our primary platform
37. Are you using Power BI and Microsoft AI tools?