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'Direct from the software vendor': goes window-shopping for standard ERP in £400m spree

Don't bother picking that tie for the Zoom session, resellers

UK government procurement unit Crown Commercial Service is sizing up the market for new back-office systems for central government in deals that could be worth up to £400m.

The expected resulting framework agreement – for software including ERP, human capital management (HCM), procurement and supply chain, information management and reporting – would also be available to all other UK public sector bodies. This includes local authorities, health, police, fire and rescue, education and the three devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Interestingly, deals struck within the framework would be made directly from the software vendor, the prior information notice said, explaining:

The Back Office Software commercial agreement will provide a route to market for organisations wishing to purchase software subscriptions and licence support for back office systems (ERP, HCM, procurement and supply chain, information management and reporting) direct from the software vendor.

Although it would be available across the public sector, the focus of the procurement is on central government. The notice said: "It is intended that this commercial agreement will be the recommended vehicle for all Back Office Software required by UK Central Government Departments."

The initial time frame of the deal is for two years, valued at £200m, with an optional two-year extension – bringing the total value to £400m.

CCS said it would hold "market engagement sessions" – that's meeting with suppliers, usually a few at a time – during June and expects to publish a contract notice on 22 September 2020.

Another likely step on the path towards a more unified, standardised back-office application estate for the UK's central government, the prior information notice comes on the back off a similar notice to IT services and consultancies last week.

In that notice, the CCS called for "expertise required to transform back-office functions from bespoke systems to efficient, industry-standard processes, enabled by commercial off the shelf software" in deals which could be worth £100m.

In March, the CCS, on behalf of the Cabinet Office, tendered a £15m contract for consultancy services to shift central government ERP to a software-as-a-service model. It was looking for a partner to "facilitate an operations and technology transformation across finance, HR, payroll and procurement and move to a SaaS solution."

An earlier strategy document [PDF] described a plan to move government departments to one of three application providers. It named Oracle, SAP and Workday as the vendors that meet the government's requirements for moving to the SaaS model. ®

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