UK Home Office finds £20m to throw at Oracle cloudy ERP

30,000 users, 2-year contract. What could go wrong? Nail-biting time


The Home Office has tossed a paltry £20m of taxpayers' cash at Accenture and Oracle implementation outfit Certus Solutions to deploy a cloudy ERP system that hopefully works overhauls the way back-office services are provided.

The aim of two-year contract, tendered on the UK.gov’s G-Cloud supplier framework, is to update finance, procurement, HR, customer service and payroll-related functions at the government department.

The deal was alluded to last month, when director general at the Home Office Mike Parsons was rolled out to endorse Oracle's new dedicated Government Cloud aimed at flogging its cloudy services to Whitehall. Insiders believe it is a way of side-stepping the Cabinet Office's disastrous shared services centres run by Sopra Steria.

Yet the deal still amounts to a drop in the ocean when it comes to the government's on-premises spend with Oracle, a figure thought to be around £290m.

The new integrated system, Metis, will be configured on Oracle’s Cloud Platform and is expected to save the Home Office money by reducing operational costs and raising efficiency - at least that is the plan.

“The Home Office is committed to cross-government alignment of back-office services,” said Richard Hornby, director of finance and estate at the Home Office.

He said the project will “simplify processes and free our people” to do the vital work of, er, “keeping citizens and the country secure”.

Accenture will take on programme management, business change, technical integration and client reporting needs, and together with Certicus, will “transfer applications to a cloud-based software as a service model”.

Some 30,000 Home Office employees in the UK and overseas will use the ERP system, making it one of the largest Oracle Cloud implementations by a UK department.

Metis includes CRM and human capital management wares, as well as ERP, the Home Office said in the tender document released in April.

“Transferring to cloud-based Software-as-a-Service model will involve moving to modern best practice processes with significant associated business change. Cloud-based SaaS solutions cannot be customised as the previous generation of applications could; key to achieving benefits will be effective adoption of the new processes,” the Home Office stated at the time.

Research by the mystics at Gartner previously found 75 per cent of organisations will by now have a bimodal tech capability – part cloud and part on-prem – but only half of these will be able to avoid putting their ERP systems at risk.

“Bimodal will soon be a fact of life, but a large number of organisations will make a mess of this change, not by moving too fast, but by failing to understand where to apply the two modes,” the analyst claimed in March 2016.

“The risks of making a mess with bimodal IT are substantial, particularly if it creates organisational, architectural, technical or process damage or dysfunction within the ERP backbone. This could disrupt business operations, seriously damage business performance and come with a high price for remediation and mitigation,” it added.

Gartner said businesses were calling into question the value of ERP “solutions” given the “poor practices of the past and the associated excuses for suboptimal business outcomes won’t hold water any longer”.

This is leading to more customers demanding demonstrable “value” in less than two years. The clock is ticking, Accenture and Certus.

Good luck to the Home Office. No, seriously. ®

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