Open University seeks partner for £12m digital-transformation programme

Written by Sam Trendall on 12 March 2018 in News

University seeks to implement digital services to improve teaching and operations

Credit: Flickr/Open University

The Open University is looking to pick a supplier to help it deliver a “major digital transformation programme” worth up to £12m over the next two years.

The university said that the programme is being undertaken because both its students and lecturers wish to use digital platforms and technologies in the delivery of teaching. The ultimate goal is to “increase student numbers and improve student retention through the provision of a world-class student experience”. The university also wishes to ensure it has a “modern and cost-efficient IT environment”.

The chosen supplier will, over the course of a two-year contract plus an optional six-month extension, help the OU design, implement, and support digital services. 

“Some of the strategic thinking on digital transformation is already taking place, and there is a dedicated programme team looking at numerous work streams – IT is one of these work streams,” the university said. “In parallel, the IT department continues to support the legacy applications with operational support, architecture, and design, as well as a fast-moving change programme spread across a number of small to medium-sized projects.”

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The OU, which is headquartered in Milton Keynes, employs about 350 in-house IT staff, supplemented by about 100 external technology professionals. The chosen digital-transformation partner will be expected to work with both OU IT workers, as well as other suppliers.

“The supplier must be able to mix strategic thinking and direction-setting, deployment of innovative solutions, tools and systems improvements, standardisation, and improvement in end-to-end processes, as well as the execution of an existing 'run' environment,” the university said.

The closing date for bids is Thursday 22 March, and the project is anticipated to be worth between £6m and £12m to the chosen supplier. The tender is being conducted through the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 2 framework, with bids submitted via the government’s Digital Marketplace platform. The work is due to commence on 15 June and will take place primarily in Milton Keynes, as well as other OU locations throughout the UK and, potentially, overseas. 


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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