Invitation to tender: EPC Online

*** THE TENDER DEADLINE IS NOW PAST (scroll to end for updates) ***

The EPC has ambitious plans to overhaul our online presence and the way that we communicate with members. Our new website will allow you to explore our huge archive of resources, reports and data analysis in a way that is tailored to your interests.

You’ll be able to interact with other members, sharing opinions, ideas and best practice.

And we will communicate with you about what you need to know, when you need to know it.

This represents the biggest investment in our service to members in the EPC’s history.

We are now launching an open invitation to tender to develop our new online services. Watch the 8-minute video (audio on) for an introduction.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

The following questions have been asked by interested parties and, for the sake of fairness, we are sharing the answers openly:

Would you accept joint bids?
Bidders are welcome to submit joint or consortium bids in collaboration with a third party in order to offer the best overall package. That said, we would be concerned to ensure that the extra communications between teams would be managed well and any additional costs due to duplicated administration might mean the bid scores less well on the price criterion. We’d also need to understand that the systems would integrate seamlessly without being passed from one supplier to another in case of difficulties. To that end, we imagine that one supplier would act as the lead supplier and the other would be a subcontractor. 

Would you accept bids for specific parts of the tender?
Bidders may bid for only those parts of the tender that they feel best able to provide. We would consider whether we can construct the best overall solution in this way. It should be noted, however, that the concerns expressed about joint bids (see above) would apply and if the EPC found itself in the position of having to project manage multiple teams, that would be a significant disadvantage in the consideration of any proposal. The quality of the proposal in other respects would have to compensate for the extra management resource on our part.

What is the current CRM?  
The current CRM is called Webcollect.

What is the current payment gateway?
The current payment gateway varies depending on what we’re asking people to pay for. Mostly we use Paypal to receive card payments. Many of our members prefer to receive invoices and will usually then make direct payment transfers to our account. For some events, we use the payment system of the event platform (eg. Eventbrite). We manage our account using Xero and intend to continue to do so. 

Do you have (or plan to get) a library of images for use on the website, or should we set aside a budget for stock photographs?
We doubt that there will be a sufficient budget for habitual use of paid-for stock images each time we add new content to the site and we also worry that sites which rely heavily on stock images can end up looking like image libraries themselves. To that end, there are other different solutions that we would explore: 
(i) We do already use stock images from time to time, but we try to do so in creative, slightly left-field ways (for example, allegorically, such as the bridge image above). We will presumably continue to do that. These are from free-to-use sources (usually Pixabay). 
(ii) We might use images, but develop a ‘look’ for the site to make images from diverse sources look more consistent. For example, we might process them using one of our brand colours. 
(iii) We might agree a budget for photos for the site rebuild, but then work on the basis that there would not be an ongoing budget. Instead, one of the options above (probably the first) would be adopted. 
These options are not mutually exclusive and we are open to other ideas. 
Ideally, individual EPC members who want to upload profile pictures (or avatars) should be able to do so.

For the analytics tools you want to include in the EPC website, whe sample data you have supplied is in excel format. What is the original data format? Do you get the data as a CSV file from HESA or do you get access to the HESA core database on their servers?
The information about the source is in the About tab here. The other tabs contain the format(s) in which we can access the data through a paid EPC subscription to the HESA HEIDI+ service. This can be produced using .csv, xls, or other commonly used formats relatively easily. This example uses a handful of small source files (the other tabs); it is created in this way because, if we extract multiple variables at once, we end up with a compound rounding problem as a result of HESA’s data protection/rounding policy. Other data visualisation pages (we have included 12 in the specifications but need this to be scalable) may include smaller or larger datasets or indeed other data sources.
It is not our intention to create dashboards in Excel. This is for example purposes. We need a visualisation function which is fully online, will pull in a range of raw summary datasets and will allow our users to choose what data they see (filters) and how they see it (charts, graphs etc). We would hope to update each summary dataset once annually. There are 12 themes in the specification but this could include many datasets and, ideally, we wish to limit the EPC administrative input to merely uploading new datasets as available.
By way of illustration, this tool and this one show the sort of result we are aiming for. Neither of these is ideal, but they are, we hope, a helpful example.
Our executive teams has experience of internal BI systems through data management add-ons such as SSRS so we are quite ambitious about what might be possible, but we are realistic about the need for a simple, low-cost solution, such as a widget for Google Sheets or something similar. We’re willing to consider a great solution which only presents a few of the 12 themes in the first instance with clear scalability and training to develop more.

As the project progresses what would be a realistic turnaround time for feedback requests? 
We will need to discuss and agree the process and schedule with the supplier. We imagine that the executive team (the EPC staff) would be your key liaison for most decisions. We would normally be able to respond to queries within a few days at most. There would be a small project group from our Board who would provide feedback at key stages in the process. We would expect to set these consultation dates well in advance as key milestones in the process and then, as those dates approach, materials should be provided for review by the project group at least a week before a meeting (probably virtual) to run through feedback. This is merely our suggested approach and we are flexible to any process that allows most (detailed) feedback to come from the executive in a swift turnaround with a more top-level approval of approach from a wider group. 

NEXT STEPS

The bid deadline is now past and further proposals will be considered only if the contract is not awarded to one of the proposals that was submitted in time. The selection process will be as follows:

The rest of the tender process is as follows:

25/11/20Tender invitation closes
26/11/20 to 10/12/20The EPC selection panel will review the bids.
11/12/20Stage I – Panel Meeting: The panel will determine which suppliers will be shortlisted and invited to presentation meetings.
14/12/20Shortlisted suppliers will be informed whether they have been shortlisted and, if so, the time and date of their scheduled presentation meeting.
16/12/20Stage II – Presentation Meetings will take place between 9am and 1pm.
17/12/20Stage II – Panel Meeting: The panel will select the successful supplier, subject to agreement.
1/2021We hope to agree contracts before the new year or as early as possible in January.

Please note: the above schedule is intended for guidance only and may be subject to change.