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City of London Corporation explores options to escape Oracle's clutches

Tests market for SaaSy alternative to Oracle E-business, wants one system to rule HR, finance, payroll, property management...

The City of London Corporation is dipping its toe in the market for a new ERP provider as it approaches the end of support for the Oracle E-Business Suite that is currently running its main financial systems.

In a pre-tender notice published this week, the municipal governing authority, which received its first recorded Royal Charter in around 1067, said it is looking for an indication of the cost and feasibility of moving to a single software HR, payroll and financial system. It is also assessing whether procurement functions can be brought within that fold too.

In a report to The Chamberlain, Shoid Islam, head of IT applications, explained that City of London Corporation uses multiple systems to carry out functions for finance, property management, payroll and HR with no overarching reporting tool.

The report said the Corporation uses Oracle for finance and commercial property management and HR and Payroll from Midland Software. The applications are currently hosted in an Agilisys datacentre. The Corporation's IT strategy aims to migrate to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) where possible, it said.

The City's authority, which also promotes the financial services industry within its environs, is trying to assess whether it can bring property management, financials and HR under one package, but it is keeping its option open.

"The current Oracle solution is considered not fit for purpose by the Department of City Surveyors. Oracle do not provide a SaaS solution for commercial property management. The Department of City Surveyors prefer a best of breed commercial property management solution," the paper said.

Meanwhile, the Corporation said it was making sure it has budget to stay with Oracle should an alternative single system not be selected.

"Oracle do provide a SaaS solution for the Finance module. The Chamberlains Department have submitted a capital project bid for the migration of the application from current on-prem to the SaaS solution, to ensure that the City remains on a maintained and supported solution," the paper said.

"This bid assumes that both HR and Payroll are to be incorporated into the one solution and costings are based around this, however a decision is yet to be made on the viability of this option," the report stated.

The move is made pressing because Oracle's extended support ends in December 2021 for the City's current Oracle financials package. A response to a Freedom of Information request said it was running Oracle R12 in 2016.

Oracle support for E-business suite 12.1 ends at the end of next year while support for 12.2 has been extended until 2030.

The "soft market testing notice" confirmed the Corporation is looking for options removal, automation of manual processes and workaround considered "necessary to underpin the current systems and processes." It is looking for employee and manager self-service through automation and to change user and business operations by using "modern technology." Risk, BI, and compliance are also on the list.

The City of London Corporation's call to the market comes as Oracle R12 customers face tough choices as some of them near the end of support.

In recent months we have seen London Borough of Barking and Dagenham tender for an alternative to Oracle 12.1.3, rather than upgrade, in what is likely to be a SaaS solution. Meanwhile, Norfolk County Council opted to stick with Oracle and go with its cloud SaaS solution, in a software and services deal worth £18m.

With the impact of COVID-19, remote working and an increasing desire for automation also factoring in the equations, organisations are set to cast their nets wide for future possibilities for their enterprise applications, rather stick to the straight and narrow upgrade path. ®

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