Guidance

Digital Outcomes and Specialists suppliers' guide

How to sell digital outcomes, specialists and user research services to government on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework.

Digital Marketplace and Digital Outcomes and Specialists

Public sector organisations, including agencies and arm’s length bodies, use the Digital Marketplace to find cloud-based services, specialists who can work on digital projects and physical data centre space. If you want to supply any of these things to government, you need to apply to be on the relevant framework.

Type of service Example services Framework
Cloud technology and support Web hosting or IT health checks G-Cloud
Physical datacentre space   Crown Hosting
Digital outcomes, specialists, and user research facilities and participants An appointment booking system beta or a technical architect Digital Outcomes and Specialists

The public sector can use the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework on the Digital Marketplace to find digital specialists to help them deliver a digital project.

Digital Outcomes and Specialists services include:

  • digital outcomes, like an accessibility audit or a beta of an NHS appointment booking system
  • digital specialists, like product managers or developers
  • user research labs that provide facilities to carry out interviews and usability tests
  • user research participants who take part in interviews and usability tests

If you want to sell these services on the Digital Marketplace, you need to apply to Digital Outcomes and Specialists and provide your service details.

You can only do this when an Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) contract notice has been issued. At this point, suppliers will have 4 to 6 weeks to apply to the framework. On average, a contract notice will be issued every 9 to 18 months.

If your application is successful, buyers will be able to find your service through the Digital Marketplace.

Who can apply to the framework

Digital Outcomes and Specialists is open to suppliers of all sizes. Previously, smaller suppliers may have found it difficult to invest time and resources in the lengthy application process. The simplified application process creates a fairer and more competitive marketplace.

Subcontracting and consortia

You can work with other suppliers by subcontracting or forming consortia. Subcontracting is when you arrange for some of your work to be done by a third party who is not on the framework. The buyer must agree to this, and you must tell them in your written proposal that you plan to subcontract and who your subcontractors are.

Forming consortia is when a group of suppliers on the framework work together. A consortium can be either a single supplier subcontracting to other suppliers, or a new company, jointly owned by the members of the consortium, which applies to the framework as a single supplier.

For more information on subcontracting and consortia, read:

Not an employment framework

If you’re providing specialists through the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework, they must be employed or contracted by you. You have responsibility and liability for the work they do. Buyers can’t place the specialists you provide in permanent or interim roles.

Buyers can also find contractors and interim staff through Contingent Labour ONE, Consultancy ONE and Non Medical Non Clinical but buyers, not suppliers, take responsibility for the work they do.

If you’re not accountable for the work done by the specialists you provide, the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework’s not for you.

Frameworks in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own dedicated public sector procurement websites. These are:

Services you can sell on the framework

Digital outcomes

Digital outcomes suppliers provide teams to work on a digital service. The buyers will define the brief.

As a digital outcomes supplier, you must:

You must provide services within at least one of the following capabilities:

  • design
  • performance analysis and data
  • security
  • service delivery
  • software development
  • support and operations
  • testing and auditing
  • user research
  • user experience and design

Digital specialists

Digital specialists suppliers provide government departments and teams with individual specialists for work on a service, programme or project. The scope and deliverables will be defined by the buyer.

As a digital specialists supplier, you must:

  • only provide specialists from your existing team
  • offer evidence of competence in each role if requested by the buyer
  • ensure all roles support the government service design manual’s description of what you need to build a successful service

You must provide at least one of the following roles:

  • agile coach
  • business analyst
  • content designer or copywriter
  • cyber security specialist
  • delivery manager or project manager
  • designer
  • developer
  • communications specialist
  • performance analyst
  • portfolio manager
  • product manager
  • programme delivery manager
  • quality assurance analyst
  • service manager
  • technical architect
  • user researcher
  • web operations engineer

User research labs

User research labs suppliers must provide:

  • user research lab hire in the right location on specific dates
  • a comfortable, private and safe environment for participants, researchers and observers to work in
  • space to conduct interviews, usability tests or focus groups
  • facilities where it’s possible to watch and record people as they engage with designs, prototypes and live public sector services

User research participants

All government digital services need to:

  • use research to develop a deep knowledge of who the service users are and what that means for the design of the service
  • have a plan for ongoing user research and usability testing to continuously seek feedback from users to improve the service

As a user research participants supplier, you must be able to:

  • recruit participants with a range of experience, for example you should consider diversity, people who are digitally excluded, as well as those who have low literacy or digital skills, and those who need assisted digital support
  • recruit user research participants who best reflect the users of a service, for example a specific target user group such as people who have recently had a specific experience for example victims, witnesses or jurors

How to apply to the framework

All supplier applications go through a single system on the Digital Marketplace. To apply you must:

  1. Create, or log into, a supplier account on the Digital Marketplace
  2. Click ‘Start application’ to begin the Digital Outcomes and Specialists application process
  3. Make the supplier declaration on the Digital Marketplace
  4. Provide service information on the Digital Marketplace
  5. Wait for eligibility checks to be made on your information
  6. Get the result of your application
  7. Sign and return your framework agreement on the Digital Marketplace

Each step in this process is mandatory.

1. Create, or log into, a supplier account on the Digital Marketplace

You need to create an account or log into your existing account before you can start your application. After you have an account, you’ll receive an email when Digital Outcomes and Specialists opens.

You’ll need a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS number) to create an account.

After you’ve created an account, you can invite extra contributors to help you add services more quickly.

2. Click ‘Start application’ to begin the Digital Outcomes and Specialists application process

When Digital Outcomes and Specialists is open and you’re logged into your account, click on ‘Start application’. This starts the application process and signs you up to receive Digital Outcomes and Specialists updates.

Asking questions during the application process

You can ask ‘clarification’ questions during the application process. All questions about this procurement must be submitted through the Digital Marketplace on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists updates page. CCS will not respond to questions individually.

All questions and answers will be posted regularly on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists updates page. Anyone who has started an application will be notified when new clarification questions and answers are available.

If you have any technical issues with the Digital Marketplace, email enquiries@digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk.

Commercially sensitive clarification questions

You may not want the answer to your question to be published. In this situation, you should explain when you submit the question why you believe that making the question and response public would put you at a disadvantage.

If GDS and CCS don’t think that there’s sufficient justification for withholding the question and answer, you’ll be asked to decide if:

  • the question and the response should in fact be published
  • you want to withdraw the question

3. Make the supplier declaration on the Digital Marketplace

You must make the supplier declaration to be eligible to provide services to the public sector. If you do not complete the supplier declaration, any services you mark as complete will not be automatically submitted. You have to:

  • agree to the framework essentials
  • answer questions to establish grounds for mandatory exclusion
  • answer questions to establish grounds for discretionary exclusion
  • confirm how you’ll work with government
  • confirm how you’ll work with digital
  • provide basic supplier information

4. Add service information on the Digital Marketplace

You need to provide your service details on the Digital Marketplace. You’ll be asked to include information like where you can provide services and pricing details. Each service you want to include needs to fit into one of 4 categories, or ‘lots’:

You can look at past and present opportunities to see the kind of services buyers need.

You can apply to provide services in as many categories as you want. Buyers can’t post an opportunity that’s in more than one category. This means you can’t be unfairly excluded from applying for an opportunity if you provide the right services.

Each service you add must be marked as ‘complete’ on the Digital Marketplace.

Your application will be automatically submitted for Digital Outcomes and Specialists on the deadline day if you’ve also made your supplier declaration.

5. Wait for eligibility checks to be made on your information

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) will evaluate the information you provide in your application against the criteria published in the supplier guidance and legal documents on the Digital Marketplace.

6. Get the result of your application

You’ll then be informed whether your application to Digital Outcomes and Specialists has been successful. You can access the result of your application through your Digital Marketplace account.

7. Sign and return your framework agreement

If your application was successful, you’ll enter into an agreement with CCS. Your framework agreement will be available in your account on the Digital Marketplace. You’ll need to sign and return your framework agreement within 10 working days of it being issued.

8. Your services will go live on the Digital Marketplace

Your services will be made available on the Digital Marketplace as soon as the framework goes live. Buyers who want to buy your services must enter into a contract (or ‘call-off’) with you. The maximum length of a contract is 24 months.

When to apply to the framework

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists 2 framework is closed for applications. The next Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework will open at the end of 2018.

A new version of the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework will be released every 9 to 18 months. If you have an account on the Digital Marketplace, we’ll email you before the framework opens for applications so you can prepare. You need to apply to continue to offer services.

Sign up for email notifications about when the framework opens.

New suppliers

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework is a catalogue of services where the basic terms of use have already been agreed between the government and suppliers. This means buyers can buy services without running a full OJEU procurement procedure each time.

You can bid to supply services when a new version is published on the OJEU. You don’t need to be based in the UK to apply to the framework, but you need to agree to the terms of the framework agreement and contract, which are governed by English law.

Follow the steps in ‘How to apply to the framework’ to submit a new application.

Applying for a new category

If you want to offer services in a category that you haven’t successfully applied for before, you can apply to do this when a new version of the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework is released. You’ll get a ‘contract notice’ (formal notification telling all potential suppliers about a public sector contract opportunity) from the OJEU ahead of each new release of the framework.

How to apply for an opportunity

Outcomes, specialists and user research participants opportunities

Opportunities are published on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists opportunities page. You will be notified when new opportunities are published.

Read how to apply to a digital outcomes, specialists or user research participants opportunity.

User research labs opportunities

Buyers will contact you directly if they think your lab could meet their needs.

Read how to apply to a user research labs opportunity.

How to provide services

Methodologies

You should plan on using an agile process, starting with user needs. The methodology that should be used on each project will be outlined in the ‘statement of work’.

You should only use waterfall methodology in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be shown to better meet user needs. Projects may need the best of both waterfall and agile methods.

You can read guidance on using agile in the service design manual and the technology code of practice.

Standards

You must support buyers:

Security

If requested by the buyer, you must work according to the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS). Additional levels of security clearance may be required by the buyer at the contract stage and may include:

  • Security Check (SC)
  • Developed Vetting (DV)
  • Counter-Terrorist Check (CTC)

The buyer can also request that you work according to:

Code of conduct

You should also comply with the Civil Service conduct and guidance.

What service details you can change

When applications are open, you can update all of your supplier and service details.

After applications close and you’ve been accepted on the framework, you can’t add services to categories which you didn’t apply for. You can change some information, like your company’s details, yourself. You can change information about your services by contacting the Digital Marketplace team.

Category What the Digital Marketplace team can change for you
Digital outcomes Team capabilities and locations where your team can work
Digital specialists Specialist roles, maximum and minimum price you charge, and locations where your specialists can work
User research studios Studio details
User research participants Recruitment approach and participant location

Buyers can request evidence of any changes you make.

Published 4 December 2015
Last updated 18 December 2017 + show all updates
  1. Revised Digital Outcomes and Specialists 3 opening date
  2. Updated to show that Digital Outcomes and Specialists is closed for applications.
  3. Added links to new suppliers' guides on applying to opportunities
  4. Added links to new Digital Outcomes and Specialists guides and new supplier logins
  5. First published.