UK's Cleveland Police: We want to fling our HR wares into the cloud. Oh, and IT can move back in

Outsourcing deal with Sopra Steria ending, and good times ahead for in-sourced tech crew propping up crumbly software

Cleveland Police force in north east England has set aside £2.5m of taxpayer's cash for a managed services provider that can drag its 8-year-old HR software into the cloud, without a significant upgrade.

A tender notice published yesterday, said the force is looking to extend the life of its Oracle HR E-business suite as the end of a controversial IT outsourcing contract with Sopra Steria would leave the software unsupported from October 2020.

The winning bidder for the three-year contract, as described by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Cleveland, will service the Oracle e-business suite and Capita's Duty Management system.

According to this document from the PCC for Cleveland [PDF], the decision to go to the cloud was taken last October.

It noted that a £175m contract with Sopra Steria, signed way back in 2010, included a "service improvement programme" and the roll-out of Oracle E-business Suite for HR, along with other HR software.

That agreement went live in 2012, but as the October document noted, "that platform is now aged and coming towards the end of its expected useful life and requires significant investment and work to either upgrade or replace. It is not possible to upgrade the software on the current hardware…"

When the contract with Sopra Steria ends, the current version will "no longer be fit to receive updates and patches beyond December 2021 resulting in potential security risks alongside organisational risks, in terms of the ability to pay staff and invoices should something go wrong," it warned.

Still, although the decision was taken to re-platform and update the software, a full application upgrade to Oracle Fusion in the cloud has not been included in the project's spec.

Presumably, this is because cash is tight and there is little appetite for change in the current climate. The decision was taken to "migrate and re-platform to Oracle Cloud" as it "fits with the force's strategy to move to cloud base products; it sits within the financial envelope available and will provide minimal impact on service users…"

At the same time, Cleveland's PCC said the £2.5m tender represents "an affordable solution that minimises the need for significant business and process change while mitigating a number of significant risks."

The upgraded E-Business Suite is set to be supported by Oracle until 2030. The Register has requested more detail from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland.

Sopra Steria's soon-to-end outsourcing contract also included a command and control centre, as well as IT, procurement, finance and HR service. Last year, Cleveland cops decided to in-source the control room, in mutual agreement with Sopra Steria, with all parties agreeing that it was the right step to manage the current demands placed on the force.

The outsourcing decision a decade ago attracted criticism at the time: the agreement was supposed to avoid job losses, but in 2012, Sopra Steria made 30 people redundant, which union Unison claimed [PDF] the police authority had paid for.

The contract also lacked transparency, flexibility and accountability, the Union added at the time.

As the Sopra Steria contract comes to an end this year, the IT department for Cleveland Police is also set to move back in-house. So, it looks like they'll be tasked with keeping ageing software running, which is pretty much where they were before the multi-million pound outsourcer took over 10 years ago. ®

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