Ranked in the world’s top 100 universities, Durham University is the third oldest university in England and one of the world’s leading centres of scholarship and learning. Durham University boasts award-winning study facilities and is home to some of the most talented researchers and scholars from around the world. At the heart of the University is the medieval UNESCO World Heritage Site where staff and students still live and work in Durham Castle, the oldest University building in the world.
With around 16,000 students and over 3,000 members of staff Durham has an international reputation for excellence in both teaching and research.
Durham University had successfully implemented and operated a Wireless LAN (WLAN) for several years. Developed over time, the network had evolved as a series of small projects. With the need to support a high speed wireless academic community, a major building programme (the Gateway Project) and increasing student expectations of high quality IT services, the University realised that its existing infrastructure was unable to meet future demands and would need to be replaced. PTS Consulting (PTS) was commissioned to help achieve these goals.
Initially consultants from PTS helped to establish and document a WLAN strategy for the University. By consulting with stakeholders representing every aspect of the University (academic, research, administrative, residential (colleges) and the student body) and reviewing the current and future wireless technologies PTS developed a WLAN strategy to serve the University as it continues to deliver the highest quality teaching and research. Following adoption of the WLAN strategy PTS continued to assist the University to procure a new WLAN infrastructure.
Working closely with the University Computing & Information Services, Finance and Procurement Service, PTS then assisted with the WLAN procurement which was undertaken using an OJEU restricted process via the University’s electronic tendering system. The assistance provided by PTS included the following activities:
- Writing the technical elements of the pre-qualification questionnaire
- Evaluating the initial supplier responses to the PQQ and recommending suppliers to be invited to tender
- Writing and agreeing the WLAN procurement specification documentation, ensuring that the technical and contractual specifications were fully aligned, and preparing the documentation for publication
- Developing and agreeing the tender scoring matrix and tender evaluation process
- Conducting an on-site visit for the ITT suppliers
- Responding to supplier questions during the PQQ and ITT stages
- Evaluating the Supplier Tenders, scoring the responses, proposing and agreeing a recommended supplier
- Documenting the procurement process for the Procurement Service’s final report
The technical component of the procurement specification was developed by building on the work undertaken on the WLAN strategy and working closely with the University Computing & Information Services team to ensure that all the University’s requirements were incorporated. Alongside this the tender scoring matrix was developed so that the specification and tender evaluation were directly related. Working with the Procurement Service PTS ensured that the contractual elements of the specification were appropriate and would meet the University’s requirements. The specification development also informed the PQQ process which allowed suppliers the opportunity to fully describe their capabilities, technologies and methodologies. The PQQ responses were evaluated by PTS and its recommendations passed to the University.
Using the prescribed tender evaluation methods the Tender responses were independently evaluated and scored by PTS and University staff representing Computing & Information Services, University departments and Procurement. The tender evaluation team then assembled to complete the tender evaluation exercise by agreeing on a single score for each element of the supplier responses. The information provided by suppliers in response to the ITT was comprehensive and appropriate to allow a thorough evaluation of their responses.
Following the prescribed standstill period, the University awarded a five year contract to the successful supplier. PTS completed the procurement by documenting the procurement process and supplier selection activities for incorporating into the University Procurement Service’s formal report of the process.
Implementation Project Management
PTS is working alongside the University to ensure that the new WLAN is implemented by the contracted supplier in accordance with project plans and the contractual documentation. The PTS project manager is working on-site to achieve this objective. Throughout the project PTS ensured that project management was of the highest quality. Liaising with the University Computing & Information Services Project Management Office, PTS provided bi-weekly project progress reports which were supplemented by the PTS prepared and maintained project plans and risk register. In addition to the formal reporting mechanisms PTS also attended on-site project management meetings and held frequent telephone conferences to report on progress and resolve issues or mitigate risks as and when it was necessary.
With help from PTS, Durham University has achieved the following:
- Wireless LAN strategy to support high speed wireless academic community and major campus building programme
- Stakeholder engagement across academic, research, administrative and residential bodies
- Research into existing and future wireless technologies
- Procurement undertaken using an OJEU restricted process via the University’s electronic tendering system
- Rigour and diligence to ensure competitive tender process matched client’s needs with supplier responses
- Objective scoring and recommendations allowed the University to select the very best solution for its needs
- On-site Project Management ensured new WLAN implementation is delivered in line with contractual agreements
Andy Nixon, Deputy IT Director at Durham University said: “Enabling a high speed Wireless LAN is one of the fundamental building blocks to providing our community with secure, resilient and ubiquitous access to the facilities they need – be it academic, research, teaching, learning, administration or social. PTS Consulting has worked with us for many years and understands the IT involved in delivering high quality teaching and research. We know we can trust PTS to help us navigate safely along our technology roadmap from strategy and procurement through to delivery and implementation.”
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