Local Digital Project: Chatbots and AI

Running a supplier Q&A Session

The procurement we have running currently to find a digital agency to help us is well underway, and we’ve already had a batch of questions that have been answered via the Digital Marketplace for everyone to see. Today we also held a supplier Q&A session to answer questions in person via Google Hangout.

What we learned

We had some invaluable feedback about how we’d organised the procurement in not being clear about the difference between shortlisting and assessment stages. We could have helped ourselves and suppliers by asking for proposals following shortlisting.

We’ve also learned that a project as complex as ours is difficult to get across in the Digital Outcomes and Specialists format. Normally the opportunities are focused on narrower areas, but our project is larger in scale and scope with multiple deliverables. Including a URL to our full application was useful, but not everyone had read it.

The spread and number of councils involved presents potential issues for suppliers in designing their approach to the project, and how much on-site work they can practically achieve. It may be helpful to cap the number of collaborators for future Local Digital projects.

The number of areas of research also presents issues for suppliers as we can only really tackle things at a higher-level. It’s a good job we limited the number to four at least.

Suppliers were happy to hear that not progressing a chatbot/AI project would be considered an acceptable result. We think that preventing work on projects that won’t deliver will also save time and effort for councils.