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What’s new with Digital Services 2

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Suppliers can now apply for the second iteration for the Digital Services framework. We want to continue to make changes in our approach that are revolutionary, not evolutionary, and have already started thinking about what Digital Services 3 could look like.

Building on user needs

For Digital Services 2 (DS2) we’ve made some changes and improvements based on feedback from buyers and suppliers.


The GDS Heads of Communities have helped us to re-describe the capabilities, and we now have 7 digital capabilities (not 8, as there are for the first iteration of the Digital Services framework).

We’ve merged what were previously two separate capabilities - ‘Agile Delivery Management’ and ‘Product Development and Service Design’, and have created ‘Agile Product Design and Delivery’.

We’ve also renamed ‘Content Design and Development’, to ‘Content Design, Editorial and Strategy’ for DS2.

Roles and role levels

We’ve increased the number of roles for some capabilities, and added an ‘intermediate’ role level (between ‘junior’ and ‘senior’).

Developers located remotely
For DS2 we’re allowing suppliers to propose remotely located developers but with specific customer guidance on when it might be appropriate to consider these.

In addition to any of the above roles, suppliers on DS2 will be able to offer either a Technical Specialist or a Partner-level Specialist, to meet customers’ specific requirements on a project by project basis. These specialist roles may be required in small numbers and for short durations, working closely with existing delivery team roles. Costs will be capped at £1,200 per day for Technical Specialists and £1,500 per day for Partner-level specialists.

The Technical Specialist and Partner-level Specialist roles are not included in the price competition.

Technologies and languages
We’ve updated this list for DS2 as well as added a high-level group to give a structure. This isn’t a prescriptive list and suppliers will be able to add others.

Customers will be able to filter by these when using the Digital Marketplace.

UK regions

This is where suppliers are willing and able to send their people to work co-located with customers’ delivery teams.

These have been made more granular for DS2. A full list of the regions can be viewed here.

Evaluation process


We’ve developed a set of questions for DS2, which will enable subject matter experts to make a judgement of suppliers’ skills and experience specific for each capability.

The requirement in DS1 to have a minimum number of suppliers who are able to provide all the capabilities, has been removed for DS2.

We want to focus on quality, so only suppliers who pass the capability evaluation will be invited to participate in a price competition.


A reverse auction will be held to establish suppliers’ maximum day rates for the 45 role levels (14 ‘junior’, 14 ‘intermediate’ and 17 ‘senior’).

The 50 lowest priced suppliers for each individual role level, will receive notices from CCS of their intention to award framework agreements.

The framework agreement and call-off contract

>Warranties and acceptance criteria

The Digital by Default Service Standard assessment is now specifically linked to acceptance criteria and suppliers’ warranties of quality. The acceptance criteria is also to be included in the supplier’s exit plan.

Suppliers’ warranties also no longer extend to software or services provided by third-parties.

Exit planning

At the beginning of a call-off contract, suppliers are now required to agree an exit plan with customers, which will govern the activities of both parties when the contract comes to an end (whether as a result of expiry or termination).

The exit plan will be maintained throughout contract delivery and will also form part of the acceptance criteria.

The further competition procedure

Customers are now able to conduct face to face presentations as part of their evaluation of suppliers during further competitions. This means that decisions to award call-off contracts can be based on more than simply a supplier’s written response to a Requests for Proposal (RfP).

Direct award

User research conducted throughout the Digital Services 1 managed service discovery has shown that customers need quality people who can deliver the best project outcomes.

We’ve therefore replaced ‘direct award’ with the more flexible further competition procedure, so that a customer can evaluate suppliers on the basis of quality and price, whether the need is for a single role or multiple capabilities as a team.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Matthew Ford posted on

    It's great that the framework is now open to companies who use remotely­ located developers.

    However the guidance that will be given to buyers is rather confusing, it sounds like companies who will propose teams with remote developers will still be at a significant disadvantage.

    Phrases such as the one below I believe make opening up the framework a half way house:

    > "Remotely ­located developers should: only augment a team of developers from the same supplier, who are co­located with the customer"

    We have worked with GDS on a number of successful projects in the past and we are in the final stages of an alpha with the Queens award for enterprise. If we were forced to use this framework over others (G-Cloud). I cannot see how we would be able to compete against companies who were co-located client side, with the guidance is it currently stands.