Awarded to Zaizi Limited

Start date: Wednesday 22 May 2019
Value: £45,150
Company size: SME
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)

Discovery and alpha into improving digital collaboration between Local Authorities

16 Incomplete applications

14 SME, 2 large

46 Completed applications

38 SME, 8 large

Important dates

Tuesday 19 March 2019
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 26 March 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 2 April 2019 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
The structure of local and central government lends itself to public organisations working in silos to devise solutions to meet their own needs. This discovery and alpha aims to solve that problem in accordance with the Local Digital Declaration.
Latest start date
Monday 20 May 2019
Expected contract length
3-4 months
Organisation the work is for
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)
Budget range
Overall budget: £150-200k.

We would like the opportunity to evaluate whether we continue into alpha after discovery, so it would be beneficial if the supplier could provide a separate bid for discovery and alpha. Proposed budgets for these phases are below.

Discovery: £50-80k
Alpha: £120-150k

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Local Digital Declaration (signed by 150 local authorities as well as MHCLG and GDS) has 5 principles one of which covers working in the open and sharing plans & experiences. From MHCLG’s research into collaboration, and the initial usage of the LocalGov Digital Pipeline service, we believe that providing a way for local authorities to collaborate and be aware of each other’s work (possibly using a central digital service, such as Pipeline) is likely to be a key part of enabling that principle to be realised.
Problem to be solved
The structure of local and central government lends itself to public organisations working in silos to devise solutions to meet their own needs. This leads to huge inefficiencies through duplication of spending, lack of collaboration and sharing of knowledge.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a Local authority employee, I want to find others that have done similar work to me or are planning similar work, so that I can share learning (and potentially code) and make sure my project is successful

As a MHCLG Collaboration Manager or SME supplier, I need to know where there are common needs or opportunities in the sector, so I that I can help support innovation and transformation to help local authorities make better local services for citizens
Early market engagement
We have been raising awareness with users across the sector via the Hackney blog, MHCLG blog and the LocalGov Digital Slack community inviting feedback.

We posted a brief for an alpha earlier this year, which we withdrew after reconsidering our requirements (we felt we needed to do additional discovery work)
Any work that’s already been done
Significant work has been done on LocalGov Digital's Pipeline service, which seeks to address the problem we're hoping to solve. Hackney have done user research on this service, which we are building on with this work.

MHCLG has also done further user research with Local Authorities at our Local Digital Roadshows and with teams who were successful in applying for the Local Digital Fund. We are due to do further research before this team begins.
Existing team
As this is a cross-sector product, a stakeholder group is being established to work closely with a Product Manager based at MHCLG to prioritise the backlog of features. The supplier is expected to provide the delivery team to work with this product manager and serve the stakeholder group.

Within the Local Digital Collaboration Unit (LDCU) some capacity exists covering content design, service design and user research. However, we expect the supplier not to depend on this support. Rather, we hope our teams can work closely together to help build team capacity.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The primary site is the MHCLG office located at 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF.

The intended users of this tool are across the country and we expect rounds of research and testing to take place across the country.

Travel/expenses to sites should be included in your costs and will not be reimbursed separately.
Working arrangements
The supplier is expected to work onsite alongside existing teams for at least 3 days a week for face-to-face meetings. The supplier should demonstrate effective use of Agile principles and established project management approaches to enable progress to be monitored and issues resolved. The supplier will also be expected to work openly and allow anyone in the sector to have visibility of progress including the open, live broadcasting of show and tells (on Wednesday lunchtimes).

The supplier will be expected to engage with local authorities and groups such as LocalGov Digital via user research and online collaboration tools.
Security clearance
CTC or above is desirable as staff will otherwise need escorting on site. If the successful supplier does not have CTC cleared staff, MHCLG will sponsor clearance. The supplier team will be expected to start this immediately after appointment.

Please make it clear whether staff have clearance when submitting responses.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
1. All outputs will be owned by MHCLG and published openly where appropriate using a suitable open license that supports reuse.

2. All materials/outputs derived from the contract shall be the property of MHCLG.

3. GDPR requirements will be discussed and agreed once the successful supplier has been notified (as part of discussions to agree the wording of the call-off contract).

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
  • Demonstrate meeting skill requirements based on the anticipated composition of the team
  • Have experience of doing user research and service design for public services
  • Experience of working with a diverse group of stakeholders (ideally in local government)
  • Experience of working in the open and regularly sharing with a wide audience
Nice-to-have skills and experience
Experience of working with local authorities

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Technical solution
  • Approach and methodology
  • How the approach or solution meets user needs
  • Value for money
  • Team structure
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation and other suppliers
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members
  • Work openly
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Please can you clarify the roles that the buyer is expecting the supplier to carry out alongside the existing client team?
We would expect the supplier to provide the roles they believe they need to fulfil the brief. The team have a user researcher and service designer currently working on some initial discovery work in this space. They will be available to work on the project but not fulltime.
2. Will the solution eventually be hosted as a gov. uk website?
This work is for a Discovery and Alpha. We aren’t clear as yet what the solution(s) are and where they could be hosted.
3. Will the solution need to implement the gov. uk design system?
We would expect use of the GOV.UK Design System where appropriate depending on the solution.
4. Can suppliers based outside of London propose less days on site with additional Skype meetings?
We are keen for the teams to be co-located to ensure that we can work closely.
5. What were the most critical functional limitations of Pipeline?
We would expect the supplier to look at the existing Pipeline work as part of the work they would complete to learn what needs this is meeting.
6. What campaigns were used to promote visibility of Pipeline with Local Authorities?
We are not aware of the specific campaigns. Pipeline is a project by LocalGov Digital.
7. Is the requirement here for a true alpha project or a pre-beta? i.e. MVP or something with limited functionality (that a small user group could use/test) given an 8-12 week timeframe? What are MCHLG’s intentions after the alpha? Does MCHLG definitely intend to use the 'alpha' as the basis for beta?”
The requirement here is for a discovery and an alpha phase where the highest value needs/problem areas are explored. Depending on what is found during Alpha, we will look to continue into beta.
8. Is discovery intended to include re-purposing or re-development of existing code or should this be regarded as a 'greenfield' site?
Discovery is to identify the users and needs and where we can help given the existing interventions that have or being made.
9. Given agile principles, does MCHLG still feel it is appropriate to request an alpha proposal before discovery is complete?
We have been given approval by GDS to run a procurement for discovery and alpha, with the assumption that we will not move into alpha if discovery suggests there is no need for this service.
10. Has MHCLG factored in any hiatus between discovery and alpha in the announced timeframe? Will MHCLG resources be available throughout the project, including the summer months, without delays?
It is likely there will be a short break between discovery and alpha, while we seek spend control approval. MHCLG staff will be available during the project.
11. What are the likely locations and how many rounds of research are anticipated?
Our focus is local authorities in England and Wales. We would expect suppliers to propose an approach and the reasons why.
12. Is the requirement for suppliers to work onsite for at least 3 days per week solely in relation to the primary site or does it also apply to other locations?
To reach the best outcome we feel the team will need to be co-located however, there will need to be remote work specifically to undertake research and testing with councils across the country so that will mean on occasions the whole team will not be at the primary site.
13. Please could MHCLG clarify what is expected in terms of ‘technical’ competency and ’skill requirements’?
Please describe the team (and their skills) you propose to deliver this work.
14. What is the expected composition of the team, and what internal resources does MHCLG envisage as part of the 'team?
The supplier is expected to propose the composition of the team to meet the brief. There is currently a user researcher and service designer from the team working on this project but their involvement will not be full time.
15. What team members do you expect the supplier to provide?
The supplier is expected to propose the composition of the team to meet the brief.
16. Overall budget – Mixture of two to come within £200k?
Yes, the total budget is up to £200,000. Suppliers can determine how to split between discovery and alpha.
17. Research already with Local Authorities. Research with Local Authorities who have not signed the Local Government Digital fund?
Yes, we expect to undertake research with both LAs that have signed the Declaration and those that haven’t.
18. Is the work to cover all countries in the UK?
Our primary focus is English and Welsh local authorities but that does not mean we actively exclude others.
19. Is this work to meet the Government Service Standard or the Local Government Service Standard
This work is subject to Spend Control and the Government Service Standard. However, the aspiration of both standards are to make better services so we don’t foresee any conflict.
20. What has the attitude from Local Councils been to date to this work?
Very Positive. The Local Digital Roadshows were very well attended and feedback very positive. We ran specific workshops at these events on collaboration that were very popular. Outside London been very positively received.
21. Who are stakeholders involved in this requirement?
Representation from LocalGov Digital – council network of Digital leaders.
London Borough of Hackney – already worked on pipeline and have vested interest in this.
We expect the makeup of this group will develop as the project goes on.
22. What is the ultimate goal – move on to Beta and essentially a live product?
This is for a discovery into collaboration and re-use within the sector. Depending on what we find, we will move into Alpha and as testing + evidence shows, move into beta. We want to build on the good work already delivered in the sector as well as the activities such as training and roadshows we’re already doing.
23. User research and testing community – what we think is a reasonable cross-section or Gov fixed group which the successful supplier shall have to work?
We would expect the supplier to provide a sense of this as to what could be appropriate.
24. How can we recruit people for research and testing?
We have our own newsletter and social media channels. There are also other groups and networks we can access. One of the challenges is that council staff in digital teams may not be the users we need to speak to. Our comms channels are more focussed on digital people but they could broker connections to right people (e.g. service managers)
25. Other than Local Authority employees, are there any external groups?
Yes, but no other groups. Can also use Twitter feeds.
26. How many people do you estimate logging into the sharing sessions?
Show and tells are advertised and streamed via YouTube and promoted through channels such as Twitter, our newsletter and LocalGov Digital Slack.
27. In what formats do you anticipate the updates being shared? e.g blogs, online information repository etc?
We aspire to work in the open as much as possible using tools such as Trello, GitHub, blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn and streaming/recording show and tells via YouTube.
28. Do you have a preferred platform for the live sharing sessions? (e.g. Skype).
We broadcast our show and tells using YouTube.
29. You say in the ad that it would be beneficial for the suppliers to provide separate bids for discovery and alpha. At this stage, can you confirm you are only expecting the 100 word responses to the skills and experience criteria by 11:59pm on Tuesday 2nd? Does this mean if suppliers pass the qualification stage, we would need to submit two bids?
Simple answer to this question is Yes. To be clear, we only expect to receive the 100 word response to our essential skills and experience criteria by 11:59 on Tuesday 2nd April.

If you are shortlisted, MHCLG expect shortlisted suppliers to then present to the evaluation panel with responses to the cultural fit and make up of team questions. Further details shall follow once initial evaluation takes place of supplier essential skill and experience responses.
30. You say in the ad that it would be beneficial for the suppliers to provide separate bids for discovery and alpha. At this stage, can you confirm you are only expecting the 100 word responses to the skills and experience criteria by 11:59pm on Tuesday 2nd?
Please see our response to Question 29.
31. Please can the Q&A from Monday's webinar be shared?
Really sorry, we did not record Monday's question and answer session. Questions 16 to 25 (above) were those questions asked by suppliers who attended the question and answer session held on Monday 25 March.
32. Please could you expand on the reasons you identified that made you realise you need to start the thinking afresh with a Discovery? It seems to make sense, from a broad perspective, but would be helpful to understand the detail.
Further budget was available giving us an opportunity to update and broaden our current understanding around collaboration and re-use and expand coverage at alpha.
33. Also what existing research exists from Pipeline work to date that can be built on?
This is already linked to in “Any work that’s already been done”
34. A well-written opportunity, thanks, so very few Q's. Only one thing we didn't understand was the first required piece of skills and experience: "Demonstrate meeting skill requirements based on the anticipated composition of the team" Please could you clarify/reword this? Which skill requirements, what anticipated composition?
Please re-draft this question to “with examples, provide evidence of meeting the requirement based on the anticipated team you will supply” .
35. Will experience in any specific technologies or frameworks be required? If so which technologies and frameworks?
No. This is discovery and alpha work.
36. Which specialist skillsets do you anticipate being required for this project?
This is for the supplier to propose to meet the brief.
37. Hi – is there a recording of the Q&A Hangout session that we can access?
Please see our response to Question 31.
38. Is there a transcript of the Q&A hangout available?
Please see our response to Question 31.
39. Are you able to share what the next steps are following the initial supplier evaluation, along with the associated timelines? eg full proposal, presentations etc
Our current, provisional timetable for this requirement is:

Evaluation starts – Wednesday 3rd April

Suppliers informed of whether shortlisted or not – By Monday 8th April

Supplier presentations – Thursday 11th or Friday 12th April

Final decision – Monday 15th April

Contract starts – Monday 29th April.

Please note this is provisional and could be liable to change.
40. As per DOS guidelines 'You should only provide one example for each essential or nice-to-have requirement', are MHCLG only requesting one example per skills and experience question?
Yes that is correct.
41. How will you be evaluating separate pricing for Discovery & Alpha phases or will you just evaluate overall price for both? Will this be based on total value or day rates?
We shall evaluate both prices as one overall cost. The overall cost shall be based on total overall cost but we shall ask for a breakdown and day rates once suppliers are shortlisted for this requirement.
42. How will you be evaluating separate pricing for Discovery & Alpha phases or will you just evaluate overall price for both? Will this be based on total value or day rates?
Please see our response to Question 41.
43. For the first evaluation round (evidence), what would MHCLG expect to see from an answer for it to be deemed 'exceeding' and score 3 marks?
We expect to see well structured responses with added value, clear outcomes and relevant skills and experience.
44. Are you looking for an organisation with GDS assessment experience or just certain individuals proposed in the supplier team?
We’re looking for a team that can work to the principles in the Government Service Standard and the approaches recommended in the Government Service Manual.
45. Will MHCLG be able to organise access to stakeholders throughout the project?
We will endeavour to help.
46. Do you have a preferred technology stack or solution in mind?
Please see our response to Question 35.
47. Are MHCLG able to recruit and provide access to users for the purpose of user research?
We will endeavour to help via our channels and contacts but we may not have direct contact with all types of users that are identified.
48. Can you provide details of how much of your teams time will be assigned to this project and whether they will be ready to start on the expected start date?
A user researcher and service designer are already working on this project.

They will available to support the supplier as they start and availability thereafter will depend on priorities of other work of the Unit.
49. Can you confirm who the people on your selection panel are and their individual roles and responsibilities, please?
No, not at the present time.