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Tata Consultancy Services wins £4m deal to carry out Oracle 'reimplementation' for University of Manchester

That's an expensive reimplementation

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has won a £4m contract to bump up the University of Manchester from Oracle Financials version 12.1.3 to 12.2.8 or later.

The institution - based in England's north west and which was the centre of a COVID-19 lockdown protest last year - is also looking to create a new chart of accounts, involving a complete re-engineering of its core financial processes.

TCS will be expected to make the switch to the new system by 1 August 2022, according to a contract award notice.

The project is not so much an upgrade as a "reimplementation", the official document said, raising the question of exactly what value the university will get for its £4m. Nonetheless, the Uni insisted it will be able to do new things by moving a few points up the Oracle version ladder.

"Our Vision is to use the Oracle re-implementation to improve the support provided to the University by increasing automation, simplifying and standardising what we do, and reducing manual interventions in routine processes freeing up staff time for value-added activities," said the document, which followed a contract notice published last year.

The institution appears to have first gone live with R12 around 2013, according to a staff notice.

The University of Manchester is famed for playing no small part in the development of computer technologies. Alan Turing was a reader there and made contributions to the Ferranti Mark 1. The first RAM was developed there in the late 1940s; it relied on cathode-ray tubes.

The Oracle tender stated that the university wanted to improve reporting and controls made possible by a new ledger structure and chart of accounts as well as to automate VAT and tax reporting. It also wants to consolidate its IT landscape, including moving from a single company to a multi-company setup, with the hope of reducing support costs and the number of interfaces.

In July 2020, the university awarded a £50m contract to integrators to provision cloud services from the big three hyperscalers in order to consolidate billing and save money. Winners were Tech Mahindra, ANS Group, and Cloudreach Europe. Winners of "future projects" work included HCL Technologies and UKCloud.

The Oracle project, a major technical and business process overhaul, comes not long after the University of Manchester, which hosts around 40,000 students, announced the departure of CIO Malcolm Whitehouse as of 31 October 2020. He had made the decision to return to interim work before retiring in the next two to three years, according to a statement. Angus Hearmon, formerly research IT programme director, began the role of director of IT in October last year. ®

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