Invitation to tender: user research on a technical prototype

Wed Jan 2, 2019
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We’re looking for an organisation or individual to perform user research on a technical prototype

We’re looking for an organisation or individual to perform user research on a technical prototype

2 January 2019

Tender reference: ARCH2019-01

Call for tenders by the Open Data Institute
Contact: [email protected]

The objective of this work is to plan, conduct and synthesise insights from a round of user research focused on a technical prototype, testing the response to the concept and implementation of a tool for archive and memory institutions using blockchain technology.

The successful company will work in collaboration with the Open Data Institute (ODI) who will provide guidance, review and assistance throughout.

Summary and timeline


Plan, conduct a round of user research, and synthesise insights for the project team.


February to April 2019

Value of award

Up to £13,000

Questions to ODI by

12:00 on Jan 8, 2019

ODI responses by

12:00 on Jan 9, 2019

Costed proposals due by

12:00 on Jan 15, 2019

Tender decision by

Jan 17, 2019

Contract awarded

By end of Jan 2019

ODI brief winning applicant(s)

Early Feb 2019

ODI progress reviews


Final work delivered by

End April 2019

Tender reference:



[email protected]

Terms of payment

Invoices will to be submitted monthly in arrears, payable within 30 days of receipt.


As part of an exciting research project looking at the potential role of blockchains (distributed ledgers) for archival and memory institutions, the ODI is looking to conduct a rounds of user research with the aim to test of a prototype web-based tool for archivists.

The project team, a collaboration between the University of Surrey, The National Archives and the ODI, have created a proof-of-concept system allowing archivists to store digital signatures of archived documents into a Ethereum-based blockchain network, which we believe may be an effective method to guarantee the integrity of archived documents over time.

As one of the final steps of this feasibility study, the team now plans to run a pilot experiment with up to 5 international memory institutions, ideally between February and April 2019. The role of the user researcher / user research team will be to observe, interview and gather insights from participating institutions as they use the prototype system in parallel with their routine archival process for a limited period of time.

Participating institutions will be a mix of organisations in the UK and around the world, so the user researcher will use a mix of methods including remote interviews to gather insights on the prototype test.


The ODI will, where possible, provide space to work in our offices in London, when members of the successful contractor wish to work onsite. There is an expectation that the successful contractor will work closely with the ODI team, which includes regular face-to-face meetings and being available remotely (eg skype, email, slack).

Briefing with our team on the research (Estimate date: February 2019)

Join ODI members of the project team for a briefing about the project and a walk through the prototype being tested. We expect this kick-off activity to take place at the ODI office in London and last 2-3 hours.

Develop the research plan and interview guide (Estimate date: February 2019)

In close collaboration with the ODI team, you will develop a plan for the research interviews.

Up to 5x user interviews (Estimate date: through March 2019)

Interviewees will have been recruited/identified by the ODI or partner organisations in the project. You will be responsible for scheduling and conducting those interviews either in London or using remote interview systems.

Given the focus on feasibility and desirability rather than usability, we expect that the heart of the round of user research will consist of one interview for each of the teams/organisations involved in the trial of the prototype, rather than alternatives such as lab-based usability testing. As experts in the discipline, we do however encourage you to suggest what you think is the best course of action in your proposal.

Note that ODI team members and/or project partners will likely join in the interviews, as observers. Note also that some of the interviewees will be in a variety of time zones (e.g. Asia, North America), which may affect the time at which the interviews will be conducted.

Synthesis and reporting (Estimate date: March – April 2019)

You will be responsible for analysing the interviews for insights on the desirability, usability, viability etc. of the prototype for the interviewees, and will be creating both a short report on those findings, and a presentation deck. Your report may be the basis for, or be used as material for future academic paper(s) related to the broader project.

Presentation to the broad project group (Estimate date: April 2019)

As wrap-up of your work, you will be expected to present your findings to the ODI and project partners, at a meeting either in London or Guildford.

Catch-ups with ODI team (weekly throughout)

In addition to the collaboration on specific work items, the ODI team will hold short weekly catch-up meetings (in person on via videoconferencing), which you will be strongly encouraged to join.


Expected deliverables for this work will include:

  1. Research plan
  2. Interview guide
  3. Transcript and/or notes for each interview
  4. A short report synthesising findings from the interviews
  5. One presentation of the findings

Form of tender response

Interested parties should submit a costed proposal (in English) to [email protected] which includes:

  • the tender reference in the email subject line
  • a short (no more than 3 pages) explanation of your proposed approach (eg methodology, scope), including why you are well-placed to do the work
  • a description of the person/team who will do the work, including bio(s) in addition
  • the costing should be at activity level, but feel free to provide more detail
  • a writing sample of a similar research report or relevant user research artefacts

If you have any questions about the tender, please contact [email protected] quoting the tender reference. The ODI reserves the right to make both anonymised questions and answers public or shared with other organisations having stated their interest.

Decision criteria

All proposals will be assessed as described in our public procurement policy.

In addition, for this procurement we will be looking for:

  • Evidence of expertise of planning, conducting and synthesising user research
  • Evidence of knowledge or experience working on projects related to blockchains or similar technology