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Leeds City Council swallows the Gartner glossary and orders up 'post-modern' ERP in £44m SAP replacement

When do we get avant-garde ERP?

Leeds City Council is huntig down a replacement for its SAP HR and finance system in a bid to leap onto the SaaSy bandwagon.

In a tender document, the public authority said it anticipates a 20-year relationship to replace its current core business applications.

It is looking for people and finance functions of human resources, payroll, finance, and procure-to-pay software to support users both within the authority and to external partners and organisations.

The council, which has a total budget of £525.7m for 2020/2021, said it wanted to see the shift to new application software and infrastructure "be achieved through the delivery of a business change programme supported by the implementation of cloud-based, fully integrated, people and finance software-as-a-service solutions utilising a post-modern ERP technology strategy."

Now, post-modernism, enterprise software projects, and Yorkshire public-sector authorities are rarely mentioned in the same sentence, so either Leeds City Council has hit upon some great way of providing better value for taxpayers, or it has swallowed an analyst jargon factory.

Gartner, the omnipresent global IT research corporation, coined the term "post-modern ERP" at some point in the mid-2010s, maintaining that the future of these notoriously difficult and expensive software projects lay not in relying on a single vendor but instead balancing "the benefits of vendor-delivered integration against business flexibility and agility."

Presumably following this trend, Leeds City Council said in its tender that it required "the flexibility to retire and/or replace any number of the various components of the Solution over the lifetime of the contract" and that it reserved "the right to make substantive and relevant changes that relate to the transformation programme."

The contract could be worth up to £44m, is set to start in October 2022, and could last until October 2042, by which time ERP trends may have changed and we'll all be flying around with personal jetpacks.

The tender offers no clue as to which ERP system the council is set to move away from, but several LinkedIn accounts suggest the authority is currently running SAP HR Module 6.0 for its people management activity at least. The council also extended an SAP HR and payroll support contract late last year.

SAP has struggled to retain local authorities in the UK. Birmingham City Council switched from SAP to Oracle, starting in 2019, while Surrey County Council opted to move from the German vendor to Unit4 last year. ®

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