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East London council breaks off 20-year Oracle relationship to shack up with cloud ERP nobodies by year's end

From one of the world's largest software suppliers to... who?

The clock is ticking for Barking and Dagenham Council as the East London authority plans to ditch Oracle e-Business Suite Release 12.1.3 and go live with cloud-based software from MHR and Advanced by the end of the year.

Support for its current version of Oracle ends 31 December 2021, leaving the council 11 months to complete an ERP upgrade for an organisation that employs around 3,500 people. Good luck with that.

"Slippage of the project go-live date beyond 3 months would result in the Council using an unsupported system from 2022," a council cabinet document [PDF] warned.

The local government has opted to jump from one of the world's largest software suppliers to a couple of relative minnows in the selection of Advanced's Cloud Financials and MHR's iTrent (for HR/Payroll), to be knitted together by SI Moore Insight, which won the £4.9m contract, according to a contract award last week.

The council justified the move by saying it would dodge costs of £5.6m over 10 years by avoiding upgrading, operating and replacing Oracle Release 12. The council told The Register it had rejected a move to Oracle Cloud or Fusion, Big Red's SaaS ERP platforms, as a result of "a tender process following the evaluation of price and quality requirements." Both new systems will be available on a software-as-a-service basis.

That option was taken up by northwest London's Brent Council, Barking and Dagenham's former partner in a joint hosting at a shared data centre. But Brent has decided to move to Oracle Cloud this year, leaving Barking and Dagenham – which sits just north of the Thames and 18km (11 miles) east of the City of London – with an annual cost increase of £100,000 to host the system alone.

Barking and Dagenham's relationship with Oracle goes back to 2000, when the council first bought Oracle e-Business Suite to bring the processing, management and reporting of HR, payroll and finance into a single system. First it was hosted by the council, then on a platform shared by six other London boroughs – a CapGemini project called OneOracle. It was last upgraded in 2014 to Release 12.

Staff have found that Oracle "is not intuitive and it has been difficult to build/extract and report on information," according to the council cabinet report.

System integrator Moore Insight called the glued-together HR and finance package InConcert "a fully managed on Cloud solution".

The configuration of the system will be managed by the council, reducing reliance on third-party service providers, it said. "There is flexibility with this best of breed solution, you get what you want with local government best practice."

It seems that "best practice", at least for Barking and Dagenham Council, does not include Oracle. ®


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