We want to make sure that Digital Outcomes and Specialists meets user needs. To do this, we consulted the market and we’ve been speaking to buyers and suppliers regularly. We’ve also recently published the draft documents for the framework so that suppliers can begin to consider whether Digital Outcomes and Specialists would be the right place for their services.
In our post, Sharing draft documents, we asked you for your feedback and to make us aware of anything you thought was unclear. As an agile team, we can now make appropriate changes before Digital Outcomes and Specialists opens.
We've grouped your questions into themes and have given general responses. If you’d like more clarity, please submit a clarification question through your Digital Marketplace account when the framework opens. We expect this to be during the week beginning 7 December.
Service overviews on the Digital Marketplace
During our discovery, suppliers told us that the application process for the Digital Services framework was demanding. Buyers told us that they wanted to evaluate suppliers against their specific needs.
The need for digital services across the public sector are so diverse that we decided the most appropriate place for in-depth evaluation of a supplier is at call-off stage, against the specific buyer problem.
The user experience differs from G-Cloud as this is not a commodity technology framework; the buyer journey requires more interaction with suppliers than is offered by catalogue functionality, in order to find the best solution for bespoke digital needs.
For these reasons, the buying process won’t involve browsing a catalogue of suppliers. Instead, suppliers will be able to informally respond to a buyer’s problem before the competition starts. This allows for open, fair and transparent interactions with all Digital Outcomes and Specialists suppliers.
We intend to list all suppliers on the framework, and buyers are free to research or contact them at any time. There’s no service definition document or overview required for applications. However, if we find that service descriptions would be a positive, compliant addition to buyers and suppliers in the future, we may introduce them at a later date.
Communicate during the buying process
Buyers and suppliers told us they want to create a brief for a piece of work together. We’re encouraging buyers to communicate the problem they’d like to address. The buyer will then talk with suppliers informally to work out a realistic, achievable and affordable solution.
In response to supplier feedback, buyers can update their draft brief before starting the formal tender process. At this stage, buyers must give a preferred start date for the work. When considering realistic start dates, buyers should take into account how long suppliers may need to respond to a brief, their availability for evaluation steps and any security clearances required.
Buyers and suppliers have said that cultural fit is important so we’ve made this one of the things that buyers can use to evaluate suppliers. We’ll provide guidance on how to assess this to ensure that suppliers are evaluated in a fair and transparent way.
Working with government
Suppliers who work with government need to work in line with certain principles and standards. This is why we ask suppliers to confirm that they will act in an open, fair and transparent way and in line with these standards in the supplier declaration.
Some legal requirements may need specific action from a supplier. For example, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has a certain method and timeframe that must be adhered to.
Open source license and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
We want to help the public sector build services that can be easily iterated to meet user needs, and support the Government as a Platform objectives.
This means using open standards, under the appropriate open source license and open source components, to ensure interoperability between services and technology. By working this way, they can be easily built into, or removed from, government services and platforms.
We’d like all suppliers who write software for government, to publish it under the appropriate open source license. This means that it can be used and improved by others to meet their own users’ needs.
Agile working and changes during the life of the contract
Delivery teams need the freedom to iterate their digital services against user feedback, changing user needs, expectations and technology innovation.
This is best achieved through small multidisciplinary teams using an agile approach to create a culture that supports change. Our contracts need to do the same by providing buyers and suppliers with the flexibility to deliver user-centred digital services and technology.
Teams, subcontractors and freelancers
To find out how Digital Outcomes and Specialists differs from an employment framework read our post Digital Outcomes and Specialists: Suitable suppliers and services.
Suppliers can use freelancers to supplement their existing teams if needed. The same accountability for specialists applies to freelancers who the supplier has contracted with.
Charges for providing your services
In the digital outcomes category within Digital Outcomes and Specialists, suppliers will be asked to propose a total estimated cost for their team. The supplier should base their estimate on the combination of roles they can provide to help the buyer achieve their required outcomes, for the duration of the call-off contract.
Individual Statements of Work (SOWs) are used to break down the call-off contract into packages of work. A supplier’s team might need to scale to support changes to the amount and type of work required by the buyer. To allow for this, there will be flexibility over scope and cost.
Working within this allowance means that timescales, team members or tasks can increase to accommodate the buyer’s required changes. If changes can’t be accommodated, an additional SOW should be created.
The change control process within the call-off contract would be used where the flexibility allowed by SOWs can’t accommodate the required changes.
Deed of guarantee
We’re reviewing the terms of the deed of guarantee and changes may be made if appropriate.
We’re working with the Government Legal Department (GLD) to make some of the defined terms clearer.