Department for Education

Agile development of a replacement for Key to Success and School to School

Incomplete applications

22
Incomplete applications
19 SME, 3 large

Completed applications

32
Completed applications
22 SME, 10 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Friday 5 April 2019
Deadline for asking questions Friday 12 April 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Friday 19 April 2019 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Overview
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work We are looking for an agile delivery partner to help us develop the service in line with user needs, for delivery of a functional service within a year and to plan and take forward subsequent phases of work; and to help build knowledge and capability within the DfE.
Latest start date Monday 13 May 2019
Expected contract length 1+1
Location No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for Department for Education
Budget range We expect bids up to a maximum of £800,000 for resourcing the team required to deliver the initial MVP along with estimates for additional phases throughout the life span of the contract.

Suppliers should include a break-down of their day rates for multi-disciplinary team members along with their associated SFIA level or equivalent.

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done Data is vital to the DfE achieving its overall vision of improving educational outcomes.

Across DfE there are a number of different systems for learning providers to access and share learner information in a secure manner. These date back many years; involve business processes which are manually intensive and that by nature are incapable of meeting our users needs.

We want to provide our users with a modern, intuitive and secure digital service through which they can access the learner information they are permitted to see and transfer data to other providers as their learners move around the education sector.
Problem to be solved To develop a replacement for the ageing existing applications that are used to meet our users needs - Key to Success and School to School. The new service must meet GDS digital service standards and needs to be:
- Flexible,
- Intuitive,
- Scalable,
- Cost-effective,
- Secure,
- Reliable
- Responsive
Who the users are and what they need to do Our main users are childrens services and learner providers including early years settings, schools, local authorities, academy trusts, along with further and higher education establishments. The existing systems have a shared user base of around 60,000 users.

They use the systems to transfer pupil information in the form of common transfer files from the current school to a successor inline with pupil movement and to view selected attainment history about that pupil to support the development of a tailored curriculum plan.
Early market engagement None
Any work that’s already been done We have completed a discovery to confirm there is a genuine and persisting need for this type of service which does not exist elsewhere within government or the wider education sector.
Existing team The digital team is in Data Directorate. Currently it comprises of civil servants filling the service owner, delivery/product manager and business analyst roles.

There may be provision for further non-technical roles to be resourced internally but we would like interested suppliers to provide bids for covering the roles of a standard agile multi disciplinary team as defined by the Government Digital Service service manual (including user researcher and UX design).

The supplier will also be expected to work with the wider Department Technology Directorate Dev and Cloud Ops teams who are responsible for maintaining the DfE infrastructure.
Current phase Alpha

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place All resource must be based within the EEA, unless the Authority agrees in advance in writing.

All resource must be able to travel to DfE locations as required, including:

LONDON: Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT
COVENTRY: 53-55 Butts Road, Earlsdon Park, Coventry, CV1 3BH
SHEFFIELD: 2 St Paul's Place, 125 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 2FJ
DARLINGTON: Bishopsgate House, Feethams, Darlington, DL1 5QE
MANCHESTER: Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD

Travel & subsistence to and from DfE premises can be claimed when approved and in-line with Departmental policy.
Working arrangements Remote working is acceptable but the supplier will be expected to collaborate with the wider team using our tools of choice (currently, O365, Teams, Slack, Azure DevOps, Zoom, Trello and Google Drive/Hangouts).

The scrum teams will work in two-week sprint cycles. High-level priorities will be managed month-by-month by the product manager distilled to the scrum team during fortnightly sprints and monitored during daily stand-ups. Travel for sprint ceremonies and other key meetings may be required.

Suppliers will be responsible for providing their own suitable work arrangements/locations in order to achieve the required outcomes.
Security clearance Evidence of BPSS clearance and annual certification on information handling and data protection are required for all contractors. Workers are not permitted to copy/remove or share any data owned by DfE, additionally suppliers will need to ensure that any system holding DfE data comply with the government security policy framework.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions None

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
  • Provide evidence of experience of using GDS Design Principles and Digital Service Standard.
  • Provide evidence of experience in designing citizen-facing digital services.
  • Provide evidence of experience of developing software that complies to Government security guidelines
  • Provide evidence of experience of MS Azure: Hosting/platform/monitoring, Visual Studio Team Services, Infrastructure Automation, IaaS/PaaS, Blob Storage.
  • Provide evidence of experience of implementing, maintaining and interacting with a variety of IDAM solutions and of developing software that complies to Government security guidelines
  • Provide evidence of experience of using Agile/Scrum methodology to iteratively architect/develop high quality government digital services to GDS standards.
  • Provide evidence of ability for all roles to work effectively and collaboratively with other delivery teams both internal and external to DfE to achieve shared goals and objectives.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Provide evidence of ability to provide and flex multi-disciplinary team roles as required in line with internal capability and capacity.
  • Provide evidence of experience of leading, coaching, mentoring and upskilling people in agile techniques and roles to build agile capability within existing teams.

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 3
Proposal criteria
  • How they will ensure they deliver services in line with user needs and GDS service standards, and not be overly driven by technology.
  • How they will ensure they deliver quality service features which meet industry best practice.
  • How they will ensure the solution (services) is flexible and scalable.
  • How they will support the DfE prepare for service assessments.
  • How they propose to work with any projects that have a dependency on the service
  • How they propose to work with any projects where the service has a dependency.
  • What risks and dependencies they have identified and their approach to managing them. Include security and protection of data, and risks to the DfE’s reputation.
  • Availability, what will the hours of work be and how will these hours be.
  • How they will ensure the DfE receives best VfM.
  • How they will scale resources up or down based on project needs without any implication to the project, and the lead times from request to commencement of the role.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Explain how they will collaborate with the wider team whilst working remotely and the flexibility to travel for key meetings as required.
  • Explain how they will coach and mentor DfE staff to develop and build capability.
  • Explain how will they interact with the in-house aspects of the team and wider DfE.
  • Provide evidence of their proactivity in managing risk and identifying potential issues and providing effective mitigations in a timely fashion.
  • Confirm whether they have office space that the DfE can use for meetings with the supplier
Payment approach Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

45%

Cultural fit

10%

Price

45%

Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Who completed the discovery work please? The discovery work was completed by an internal Department for Education led team with some contingent resource.
2. We understand that resources will be required to travel to DfE locations as required, but please can you advise where the base location for the work will be? The project hub is likely to be located within the Darlington office. Regular travel to other DfE locations including the Sheffield and London offices is also likely.
3. Was the Discovery conducted exclusively by an internal team or partially or fully by an external supplier? If an external supplier was used, who was it please? Please see the response to Question 1.
4. Who did the Discovery phase and will all outputs be shared at Stage 2 to allow short-listed to gather a detailed understanding? Or will the buyer be issuing a preferred team shape that suppliers are to bid for? Please see the response to Question 1.

The outcome of Discovery is confirmed in the 'Any work that's already been done section'. We will share further details of the findings with the winning bidder.

The 'Existing team' section advises interested suppliers to provide bids for covering the roles of a standard agile multi disciplinary team as defined by the Government Digital Service service manual (including user researcher and UX design).
5. Will supplier be doing it all, or will they be working with DfE team (since they mention firm sprint patterns for scrum team which implies an existing way of working, rather than supplier determining best way to achieve an outcome)? The 'Existing team' section confirms the roles of service owner, delivery/product manager and business analyst roles are currently filled by permanent civil servants.

However, we will welcome input from the winning bidder to determine the most effective sprint patterns for the next phase.
6. Can you share the output of any Discovery work to help us inform and focus our responses please? Please see the response to Question 4.
7. Could you please share the Discovery and Alpha reports if created? Please see the response to Question 4.
8. Who are the incumbent suppliers for Discovery and Alpha? Please see the response to Question 1.
9. Has there been any GDS assessment, internal or external? If Yes, could you please share the report created? We have completed an internal assessment of the Discovery phase. We will share further details with the winning bidder. These requirements are for the alpha and beta team.
10. The description states that "All resource must be able to travel to DfE locations as required".
Please can the Authority confirm likely breakdown of time required at each site vs at the Supplier's own premises.
Please see the response to Question 2.

The final co-location requirements will be discussed with the winning bidder but as a minimum it is expected team members will meet to observe sprint ceremonies, prepare and participate in service assessments and attend other key meetings/workshops.
11. Please can the Authority confirm the required Scrum team sizes and required roles (e.g. Scrum Master, Business Analyst, Developer, Tester). Please see the response to Question 4.
12. The description states that "Workers are not permitted to copy/remove or share any data owned by DfE, additionally suppliers will need to ensure that any system holding DfE data comply with the government security policy framework".
Based on this, will the Buyer be providing development and test environments for use by the Supplier for the duration of the engagement?
All development, test, staging and production environments will be located on the Department's Azure platform.
13. Please could you clarify which organisation carried out the Discovery? Please see the response to Question 1.
14. Is there an incumbent supplier involved at this point? Please see the responses to Questions 1 and 9.
15. Could you please clarify what you mean by IDAM solutions, is it solutions built by IDAM the software supplier or does it have another meaning? The project expects to use the Department's DfE Sign-in service as its IDAM (IDentity and Access Management) solution.
16. Could you please give some more detail about the work-location mix and frequency of attendance across your sites that you are anticipating. Please see the response to Question 10.
17. Could you please clarify your expectations around the existing team’s involvement in this project? What roles do you expect them to fill and how much of their time will be allocated to the project? Please see the responses to Questions 4 and 5.
18. Can you please share your anticipated timelines for the written proposal and the presentation, following the initial supplier evaluation? We expect to complete the subsequent stages in late April/early May in time for the work to begin by the published start date.
19. You mention delivery of a functional service within a year. Can you confirm whether the scope and estimated budget of this tender covers Alpha only? Or does it include private and public Beta? The scope and estimated budget covers Alpha through to a minimum viable service in public Beta and subsequent iterative developments in-line with prioritised user needs.
20. The description states that "The existing systems have a shared user base of around 60,000 users."
Please could the Authority confirm what technologies the existing system is built in?
The existing services are HTTPS based web applications currently hosted on the Department's Azure platform.

Key to Success was developed using Perl with a PostgreSQL database.
School to School was developed using ASP and ASP.net with Microsoft SQL Server.
21. Please can the Authority confirm if they have already selected which technology or technologies they will be looking to be used for this work (e.g. Java,.NET, Python, Ruby, Node.JS). The new service will be hosted on the Department's Azure platform and will use cloud native Azure functions and rest APIs.

The proposed data storage approach is to use a file-based system in JSON format with an RBAC framework for access control.
22. Do you have any outputs from Discovery that you can share with us for the next phase such as an initial product backlog? Please see the response to Question 4.
23. Does the mentioned Budget range include any expense provision? We expect bids to include an expense provision within the overall budget range.
24. Can you confirm what the expected length of the Alpha phase is and what the expected outcome is? We expect the alpha phase to last 8 - 12 weeks and to result in a fully tested prototype ready for iteration into a minimum viable service.
25. When do you expect the MVP will be delivered by? We expect to deliver our MVP in Q3 of 2019.
26. In the question: “Provide evidence of ability for all roles to work effectively and collaboratively with other delivery teams both internal and external to DfE to achieve shared goals and objectives.” which other internal / external delivery teams will we be collaborating with? The Department has a number of internal technical delivery teams and digital development projects in progress and a wide range of external stakeholders. We expect the project team will need to collaborate with the DfE Sign-in service, which is currently in beta. It will also need to work closely with the Department's Technology Directorate delivery teams who are responsible for the Azure infrastructure. Additional dependencies are likely to emerge as the project progresses.
27. It is good that you are open to distributed agile delivery. What are the factors driving this approach for this engagement? The senior project members have achieved good results using this approach to deliver other projects previously. The dispersed nature of the Department's estates footprint also makes it difficult for a delivery team to be 100% co-located, meaning a balance has to be struck.
28. How will pricing be evaluated? Details of how the pricing element of a supplier's proposal is scored can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-score-digital-outcomes-and-specialists-suppliers#score-the-price-of-suppliers-proposals-or-day-rates.
29. Could you please share the outputs from the Discovery to help inform our proposed approach? Please see the response to Question 4.
30. You mention "All resource must be based within the EEA". Will you accept local equivalents to BPSS clearance for personnel based in EEA countries? Details of the security clearance evidence required for non-UK residents can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-baseline-personnel-security-standard.
31. What procurement timescales are you working to for informing shortlisted suppliers, submission of proposals and scheduling of presentations? Please see the response to Question 18.
32. Point 9 of the service standard is that you must use open standards and common platforms so you “can move between different technologies when you need to”. Given this is is an alpha, can the explicit requirement for Azure based infrastructure and operations expertise be satisfied by expertise in other cloud infrastructure and operations technology (such as AWS or GCP)? We are using open standards and platforms that will allow us to move between the platforms. At the present time the Department has selected Azure as the platform of choice. We may move to other technologies in the future. However, for the time being we require Azure infrastructure and operations technology expertise.
33. Can the Authority please confirm if this engagement is outside of IR35? The intermediaries legislation does not apply to this engagement.