Faringdon Learning Trust is a multi-academy trust, of over 3000 students. It includes 7 primary schools and a secondary school in Oxfordshire. The Trust is based in Faringdon, in the Vale of White Horse.
Minerva was approached by Anne Lynn, Chief Operational Officer, to run a tender for a Management Information System across the Trust. The incumbent provider was asking the Trust schools to commit to a three-year term and they were reluctant to go down this route.
In addition, the Trust wanted to capitalise on a ‘break clause’ available from the incumbent provider to explore what other options were available on the market to ensure that their supplier provided the best value and functionality.
We established that the total contract value was below the Public Contract Regulations 2015 (PCR2015) threshold and, as a result, we conducted a closed ‘invitation only’ Request for Proposal (2RFP2) process.
For several of our MIS projects Minerva works in partnership with an independent ICT consultant with extensive knowledge and experience of procuring and implementing MIS in schools and Trusts. The consultant worked alongside Faringdon Learning Trust to prepare a detailed Statement of Requirements for the invited bidders. This included all the relevant background information, from which Minerva prepared all of the tender documents for potential bidders to review. Minerva draft scored the submissions, controlled all correspondence and queries between the bidders and the Trust, organised and attended the demonstration and presentation days. The Trust was fully supported throughout the process.
In line with the closed nature of the tender procedure, four suppliers were invited to submit a tender response. The suppliers were chosen through a combination of suggestions from Faringdon Learning Trust and Minerva. The incumbent supplier was one of the bidders invited to tender. Of the four suppliers invited to bid, all four completed a submission.
Alongside our ICT consultant, Minerva ran two initial demonstration days for the Trust and the four bidders were each given a half-day session to demonstrate the main functionality of the Management Information System (MIS). The sessions were attended by a number of representatives from the Trust in a variety of roles. The feedback from these sessions was fed into the overall RFP evaluation and scoring.
The follow up demonstration day and presentation day were held online over a further two days and Faringdon Learning Trust reserved the right to only invite the three highest scoring suppliers to these demonstration and presentation days. The second demonstration session was much shorter than the first and focused on specific scenarios and questions the Trust requested.
The Trust was delighted with the quality of the suppliers and their submissions and was able to make a decision based on comprehensive information on paper and from meeting the suppliers and seeing, in action, the system and service they could provide.
What’s also really important to mention is that the project was set up so representatives from the Trust were fully involved throughout. Engagement with heavy users of the MIS is critical to get the right outcome and the feedback from one member of staff, who at the start of the project was very sceptical about alternative options, was “some of the heavy users in schools and I are strangely excited and looking forward to moving away from our current provision”.
The icing on the cake was that along with a system that offers significantly greater functionality and capability the Trust will be making significant financial savings over the next three to five years versus their current contract. Something we all aspire to in these straitened times.
This was a difficult and complex project but Minerva went out of their way to ensure that it was successful.
Anne Lynn, Chief Operational Officer