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UK's financial ombudsman seeks supplier in £22m deal to navigate tricky system rollout

COVID-hit body implementing multiple interdependent cloud systems to replace on-prem software

The UK's Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is on the hunt for an IT services partner capable of supporting and developing its new data warehouse and CRM systems in a deal that could be worth up to £22m.

The organisation, which addresses complaints about financial services firms, is going to market to look for a supplier of managed IT services to cover four main responsibilities.

It is looking for support, maintenance and development of its Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM case management system, used by 2,100 caseworkers to log 454,259 new enquiries and process 278,033 complaints in 2020/21, according to a contract notice.

Meanwhile, the winning IT services firm will be expected to provide ongoing support, maintenance and development of the ombudsman's new cloud-based enterprise data warehouse. Currently being built on Microsoft Azure data platform technologies, including Synapse, the analytics and BI platform is set to go live in the first quarter of 2022. This deadline appears to have slipped by a few months.

Cloud data warehouse migration

That cloud data warehouse is set to replace the Ombudsman's current on-premises tech, which is based on Microsoft SQL Server, SAP Data Services and BusinessObjects, the analytics and reporting system SAP bought in 2007. That's according to an earlier market notice on the data warehouse project, which set a go-live date of September 2021.

Also thrown into the contract will be work on a new "digital engagement capability" designed to help consumers raise complaints while sharing information with them.

As if the ombudsman's technology team did not have enough balls in the air, it is also in the midst of rolling out a new finance and HR system – expected to go live by September 2021 – based on Workday's SaaS platform under a £6m, five-year contract awarded in November 2020.

FOS's own timeline also seems to throw up some interesting interdependencies between the two works in progress. "The Enterprise Datawarehouse must be in place for the Workday feed by [September] as Workday is an important source of data," a market notice published in January said.

The organisation will be focused on improving performance in terms of the number of cases it can get through.

It has already attracted some criticism. In January, chair of the Parliament's Treasury Committee Mel Stride said COVID-19 appeared to have had a significant impact on the effectiveness of the organisation, with over 56,000 cases open for more than six months and over 23,000 open for more than two years.

FOS received 278,033 claims in the year to March 2021, compared with 271,468 the year before and 388,392 in 2018-19. Only 70 per cent of the cases resolved in 2020-21 were settled in six months, down from 80 per cent in 2019-20, said Stride.

The organisation will be hoping any slippage to system implementation does not impede progress on these results. ®

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