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Cabinet Office "regretfully" kills off ERP procurement plans

"Contract... would not deliver the agreed policy cluster strategy"

The Cabinet Office has abruptly dropped plans to swap an on-premises Oracle ERP system for a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) alternative by October 2023 -- saying after discussions with other government departments it "regretfully" has made the decision to terminate the procurement, which started in 2019.

The Cabinet Office -- the corporate headquarters for government -- had hoped to swap to a new cloud-based ERP system by October 2023, when its existing support contract with Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) ends.

See also: US Army CIO applauds cloud migration of “3 most complex ERPs”

But in a notice posted September 9, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) on behalf of the Cabinet Office said it had -- "under the auspices of HM Government’s shared services strategy" -- deemed the procurement "to be no longer viable" and that it "would not deliver the agreed policy cluster strategy. Therefore, regretfully, the Cabinet Office has made the decision to terminate the MyCO Implementation Partner procurement."

Cabinet Office ERP decision: Frustrating, but positive?

The ERP system in question is an on-premises Oracle eBusiness Suite R12 version used by over 7,000 government staff. The Cabinet Office had started engaging with potential suppliers in late 2019 after pushing out a public information notice saying it was "evaluating the options around the design, build and implementation of a SaaS alternative with a view to procuring an implementation partner to support the transition to SaaS."

Potential contractors were understood to be deeply frustrated at the decision after substantial engagement, as the Cabinet Office noted that it "realises this is not the outcome you were hoping for and would like to thank you and your colleagues for the hard work undertaken during the course of the procurement."

The authority had aimed to procure a partner to power an "operations and technology transformation across finance, HR, payroll and procurement and the replacement of SOP and associated systems with a SaaS ERP solution which met the authority's requirements", then award the SaaS ERP licences directly with the vendor.

Frustrating although the decision may be for systems integrators/vendors, tax payers may have reason to be cautiously optimistic: the decision comes eight weeks after the National Audit Office warned -- in a biting report ("The Challenges of Implementing Digital Change") -- that "programme teams often rush to a solution because of pressure to deliver quickly, and do not spend enough time understanding the business need, the existing system or what business improvement the programme team wants to deliver."

Lessons may, finally, be being learned.

And with the government’s Major Projects Portfolio currently including 125 projects worth £448 billion (many with digital elements to them) there's no shortage of new opportunities looming.

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts on or off the record.

Read this: The UK gov’t has a legacy of failed IT projects: These 6 things need to change, says NAO