Rainmaker Solutions helped the Food Standards Agency transform to a multi-supplier model for its ICT managed services, delivering 40% savings, better technology to end users and a range of new digital services.

The Client

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is an independent Government department working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect public health and consumers’ wider interests in food. It has 1,500 technology users across a range of different personae, including both office and field-based staff. FSA staff operate from four main office locations – London, York, Belfast and Cardiff – with a managed data centre site and 250 satellite sites, 220 of which had FSA infrastructure.


The Challenge

The FSA was in the process of changing to become more location agnostic, allowing staff to work more flexibly and remotely, whilst needing to create more flexible IT to help deal with the unknown consequences of EU Exit. The FSA came to the conclusion that it required a fundamental redesign of their technology strategy.

In line with Government policy to move away from large, single vendor IT outsourcing contracts to multi-vendor, disaggregated environments, combined with in-sourcing where appropriate, and recognising that the ICT provision being provided through the existing single vendor contract was not meeting the needs of users, the FSA looked for a transformation partner to support them in designing and mobilising a new ICT strategy.

Specifically, the FSA was looking to bring control of its ICT management back in-house, and move to a multi-vendor model to facilitate a more flexible, innovative and better value supply chain.


Qualification & Selection

Following a competitive procurement exercise, conducted under the GCloud framework, which involved competing bids from the big 5 consultancies and major Systems Integrators, as well as others SMEs, the FSA appointed Rainmaker as its Strategic Delivery Partner.

Rainmaker was appointed for its ability to deliver outstanding value in both the strategy and delivery aspects of the programme, operating as a trusted partner to deliver outcomes that helped overcome the unique challenges being faced by the FSA.

The FSA was reassured by Rainmaker’s experience of supporting government departments and agencies in all aspects of ICT transformation including:

  • provision of a detailed design & comprehensive business case that passed external scrutiny;
  • in-depth knowledge and understanding of the management and governance of business and technical transformation;
  • expertise in business change with a track record of realising significant benefits from transformation programmes;
  • provision of successful technology design, exploiting modern enabling technologies;
  • support of procurements, including System Integrator, Technical Vendor, Services and ICT Systems – compliant with the legislative rules and regulations of public procurement;
  • management of Systems Integrator & Technical Vendors to develop and build a successful, cohesive architecture to support business transformation.


The Solution

Working collaboratively with the FSA’s key stakeholders, Rainmaker’s multidisciplinary project team conducted multiple interviews across the organisation to understand how and why users interacted with technology, how data was being used to inform decision making, and the effectiveness of the existing ICT estate.

We discovered that the existing single-vendor arrangement for the provision of ICT services was ‘of its time’ and the existing contract was suboptimal. Being static in nature rather than dynamic, it had led to the existence of technical debt. Current user needs were not being fully met and there was little scope to consider future needs. The current cost profile was no longer competitive and real opportunities for savings to be made through disaggregation were available, but not being taken.

The discovery phase identified user needs, journey maps and user personas. It created a ‘current application portfolio’ using Wardley Maps – reviewed and commended by Simon Wardley himself – and resulted in an outline business case, procurement approach, digital and IT strategies, transformation roadmap and plan.


Julie Pierce, the FSA’s Director of Openness Data & Digital, talking about Rainmaker’s approach and the complexity of FSA’s legacy systems at Leading Edge Forum’s recent #MapCamp.

One of the initial challenges related to the FSA’s business case approval – an apparent catch-22 situation – which required the creation of a business case before starting work, but without starting work the information required for an effective business case was subject to a high margin of error.

Rainmaker overcame this challenge by working closely with GDS, CCS, GDS Strategic Services and CTS to develop an agile business case approach. During the initial discovery phases, we identified the scope of services and grouped them in ways that would most effectively enable the FSA to take advantage of market opportunities while meeting user needs. We accelerated the development of the commercial and procurement strategies by leveraging our prior experience and adapting existing cost models. We used the supplier engagement sessions to iterate these artefacts and deliver a comprehensive business case that was accepted first time, with minimal conditions, by GDS.

Having established clarity of purpose and situational awareness, we had built a compelling evidence base that provided sufficient confidence for the FSA to make informed decisions on where change was needed and why.

Building upon the commercial strategy, Rainmaker worked collaboratively with FSA colleagues on the market analysis and procurement strategy, to devise and implement an approach which split ICT service into a number of smaller, flexible contracts. During this phase we iterated our collective thinking about buy or build options and finalised decisions about the most appropriate routes to market, confirming which areas – services / service towers / components – to keep as-is, which to procure and which to build.

A key success factor was our open and transparent approach to market opportunities, engaging positively with specialist suppliers early in pre-market engagement sessions, enabling them to input their ideas to the specifications. This approach ensured that the FSA did not waste time and resource tendering for services that the market was unwilling or unable to deliver, while still retaining control over the design. This disaggregation procurement approach was complimented by many of the tenderers – both successful and otherwise – for its clarity.

On behalf of the FSA, Rainmaker successfully ran a series of public procurements for eight lots, using Government frameworks, which required us to manage the relevant procurement documentation:

  • Market Analysis Reports
  • Clarification Documents
  • Requests for Information
  • Prior Information Notices
  • Contract Notices
  • Selection Qualification documents
  • Invitations to Tender/Negotiation/Dialogue
  • Contract terms and conditions
  • Schedule development
  • Requirements
  • Service Level Agreements
  • Negotiation Strategies and Plans
  • Evaluation Strategies and Plan
  • Data Room constructs

Rainmaker also wrote the negotiation strategy and planned and led the exit negotiations with the existing single-vendor supplier.

New internal functions & capability

A key element of our work was to improve internal capability in key areas. We worked with the FSA to develop and implement the new organisational design and operating model, bringing key functions back in-house. This included ‘Service Management’ where we initiated a Continuous Service Management Improvement stream based on ITIL® version 3 guidelines. This represented a major change for the FSA, moving it from a function that provides technology, to one that provides services using technology, supporting its commercial objectives and ultimately, the public.

To set the foundation for this cultural and operational change within the FSA, Rainmaker ran a number of related workstreams:

  • examined existing IT organisational structure, identified process owners and implemented a strategic roadmap for the creation of a new IT Service Support and Delivery model;
  • leveraged the FSA’s own strategic partnerships to design and build an FSA-configured strategic enterprise IT Service Management (ITSM) Toolset, underpinned by ServiceNow;
  • defined, delivered, and fast-tracked the operationalised end-to-end implementation of ITIL core processes by working alongside process owners, providing guidance and documentation expertise to support the development and implementation of processes, toolsets and working practices that suited new ways of working;
  • designed a hierarchical service architecture and associated Configuration Management Database (“CMDB”) within the ServiceNow toolset, that related technology components (infrastructure) to business applications, to services the FSA recognises, and to the users of those services, enabling FSA standard ITIL processes to automate and drive behaviour change within its in-house service operations and external support functions;
  • worked out loud in collaborative teams across the FSA, breaking down silos and immersing FSA colleagues in ITIL principles, embedding a cultural change in attitudes and working practices which now characterises the entire IT organisation as a service provider and specifically the Service Management function as the control point for centralised governance;
  • supported the FSA in the procurement of an integration partner – Team Ultra – to build an FSA configured instance of ServiceNow as the enterprise ITSM toolset, designed by Rainmakers Service Management team;
  • ran the procurement and onboarding of an integrated  Service Desk supplier – Littlefish – to operate and manage the FSA’s operational processes and day to day Service Desk operations.

Working to a tight deadline, the FSA received ITIL core processes, aligned to best practice, which underpinned their in-house Service Operation and external functions, covering Incident, Problem, Change, Service Request, Access Management, Asset & Configuration.

The flexible approach to implementation provided ownership of the configuration and management data, whilst still enabling the use of commodity services to drive cost savings, making it easier for FSA to manage suppliers in a consistent way, improving visibility for whole lifecycle cost management.


Onboarding new services and suppliers

Rainmaker also took responsibility for the onboarding of new services and suppliers, minimising disruption to the FSA’s ongoing operations, while maximising the benefits available from the transformed services by using an agile approach to ensure flexibility. New services included:

  • 24/7 Service Desk
  • 24/7 App Support
  • New end user computing solution including:
  • Office 365 migration
  • New Win10 devices for all staff
  • New MDM solution
  • 900 new mobiles
  • Network management with bespoke applications and 100 servers migrated to cloud
  • Cloud IaaS with Core Azure
  • 700 phone lines transitioned
  • Broadband to 220 plants and satellite sites
  • 2 office moves

New digital solutions that meet user needs

Rainmaker also operated as the FSA’s digital transformation partner to deliver new internal services to users. We ran a discovery which identified 5 main themes:


Recognising the opportunities available following the move to Office 365 and the requirements of an increasingly location agnostic workforce, FSA staff would need, more than ever, to be able to find each other in the organisation, to share information and to collaborate on documents and projects.

To accommodate these demands, we developed a new ‘Digital Workplace’ which leveraged Office 365, and which reflected Rainmaker’s belief, borne out by the Wardley Mapping process conducted during Discovery, that cloud-based commodity technologies should be used for all components other than those elements that are unique and novel to FSA.

We worked in collaboration with FSA teams to build a robust information architecture to ensure the ‘Digital Workplace’ met user needs, met performance expectations, and was easier to embed, focusing on the needs of users to access data rather than organisation hierarchy. We also worked closely with the Information Knowledge Management team to populate a Term Store in order to help with consistency of tagging.

We followed an industry leading approach, using the latest Microsoft Graph API to reduce complexity and deliver richer information from Office 365. The solution was branded in accordance with a design produced with users, giving it a fresh identity and delivering an engaging user interface and dynamic user experience, helping to ensure the solution was adopted and embedded.

The Digital Workplace solution was enabled by Active directory connectivity, allowing FSA users to seamlessly surface colleagues details, helping them to find and connect with one another, and promoting the development of communities and more open channels of communication to better leverage the expertise of the whole organisation. The incorporation of Skype for Business and Yammer served to enable staff to connect whilst reducing the risk of isolation – a key concern with the move to more remote working. This in turn increased collaboration and effectiveness.

A key benefit of SharePoint was its search functionality which enabled users to find files, news, people and groups using specific filters, metadata tags and even keywords in a particular file. It also provided a preview option, all of which made locating knowledge assets quicker and more fluid.

Through the delivery of features to enable news and content to be curated by users, FSA staff are more informed than ever before with content relevant to their role. This delivered a tangible increase in staff engagement enabling FSA to enter into a more informed dialogue with staff. It demonstrated that digital supported the business, supporting internal KPIs for satisfaction and engagement.

By incorporating Office 365 components, Rainmaker enabled real-time collaboration, sharing and co-creation of documents. This encouraged a shift in culture to be more collaborative, with FSA staff ‘working out loud’. The solution was also available to a much broader proportion of FSA’s staff by being device and location agnostic, bringing these features to some operational staff for the first time, whilst enabling others to stay connected while on the move.

The new Digital Workplace is a core part of the FSA’s new digital infrastructure and supports their aims to change the culture and increase the digital competency of FSA staff by giving them the opportunity to seamlessly work across multiple components via a single platform.


Change management

Delivering better technology and new commercial structures is of little benefit if the users have not been taken on the journey. At the FSA, we placed change management at the heart of our engagement, mapping the original user research to new ways of working, considering change management levers as part of the personas and designing the change management interventions by persona. This allowed us to tailor our work to embed the new services and solutions to the needs of the FSA’s users, ranging from specific technical and operational training for the internal teams engaged in the delivery of the services, through to awareness sessions for end users.

We also developed and implemented a comprehensive communication strategy which was based on our core values of straight talking, always doing the right thing and making a positive difference. Our communications went beyond what was happening on the programme to explain how and why changes were happening, creating digital artefacts to support users on the journey.

The results

The FSA has successfully moved away from its large single vendor IT outsourcing contract to a multi-vendor, disaggregated environment which has provided the organisation with modern IT that meets the needs of its users and the organisation and increased its internal capability in core functions such as service management, architectural design, and contract management.

With a new service model, digital and technical platforms, less duplication and fragmentation by consolidating common activities and processes, and more competitive commercial arrangements, the FSA is achieving 40% cost savings, equivalent to £1.4 million annually.

By working collaboratively with Rainmaker, the FSA’s commercial, technical, service and procurement teams have benefited from significant knowledge transfer, leaving them in a far stronger and self-sufficient position. New digital solutions are improving productivity, digital capability and increasing staff connectivity and satisfaction.


Want to know more?

You can read more about our work at the FSA in this article in Government Computing.

You can read more about our thoughts on disaggregation and multi-sourcing in this article in Public Technology.

As a consequence of our work with the FSA, we are increasingly being recognised for our expertise in supporting government departments with disaggregation from large expiring IT contracts. We have recently been appointed appointed as strategic delivery partner to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (formerly DCLG), and London Borough of Croydon.

Rainmaker is a supplier of digital services via the Digital Marketplace.

For more information, please email Mark Hastings, Rainmaker’s Head of Public Sector.