Back of the net! Norfolk County Council kicks off £18m Oracle cloud ERP deal

Knowing me Big Red, knowing you, Norwich authorities: Aha?

Aha. Norfolk County Council, the UK local government authority based in Norwich, has awarded contracts for an organisation-wide ERP upgrade to Oracle and "service partner" Insight Direct.

The deal, which includes £13.5m for Big Red and £4.4m for the reseller-cum-integrator, promises a fully integrated ERP SaaS system including UK local government HR, finance, procurement, payroll and analytics services, according to the contract award notice.

The council has been running HR and finance systems built on Oracle E-Business Suite since around 2006. Although the technology is set to be supported by Oracle until 2030, the business case for the procurement states that the current one is "now a legacy system and in practice, there is a risk of degradation of support levels and reduction in enhancement investment" while at the same time it is also "proving difficult and costly to extend, replace and integrate".

The document also notes that: "Peripheral systems have been added, resulting in a fragmented systems landscape. Integration, capability to develop, data and analytics, and ultimately business processes all suffer as a result."

On the flip side, the council has high hope for its shiny new ERP system. For example, the business case talks about the "evidence of integrated AI, chatbots and machine learning within ERP and the positive impact these would have on improved business process and therefore productivity".

Meanwhile, "ERP will support end-to-end processes," it said, and wrote of the evidence the council has seen of "automated escalation and prioritisation to enable a focus on key KPIs".

The expected go-live is in October 2021. The initial contract continues for a further five years with an option to extend it.

The council engaged SAP, Zellis, Unit4, Microsoft and Oracle in early discussions before procurement officially began. However, in the contract award notice, the council said it only received two bids for a service partner role and one bid for software licences. The tender notice did not specify Oracle software.

There appears to have been an increase in expected contract value during the negotiation process. The initial tender placed the estimated total value at £16.75m, more than £1m less than the final contract award value.

A spokesperson at Norfolk County Council told The Reg: "This was a negotiated procedure which received a good response from the market. Eight companies bid to take part in the negotiation, and three of them were shortlisted. At the end of the negotiations, two tenders were received.

"It became clear during negotiations that some data cleansing and data transfer work that the council had planned to do in house could be done more cheaply by the bidders. As a result of this scope increase, the value of the contract increased somewhat from the original estimate." ®

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