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And finally... Oracle bags £25m ERP deal to replace East Sussex County Council's SAP R/3 system

Award delayed nine months due to pandemic

Oracle has won a deal to supply ERP software to East Sussex County Council, on England's south coast, in a delayed £25m project to replace the authority's ageing SAP R/3 system.

In an appointment that was supposed to take place by December last year, the council said it had selected Big Red for software worth £3.8m over an initial seven-year duration. A separate implementation contract is yet to be published, the council said in a contract award notice.

The southern England authority admitted in May it was six months late in appointing a vendor to replace the R/3 SAP system, which is showing its age and struggling with performance issues.

The plan, as of June last year, was for the council to name a supplier to provide a software-as-a-service alternative ERP by the end of that year in a management deal said to be worth £25m over 10 years. By August 2020, it published a contract notice calling for an ERP that could be a "fully integrated system or a fully integrated combination of best-of-breed ERP systems." This would include "modules for finance, procurement, HR and payroll, which are currently supplied by SAP."

But by November, the authority, which controls a budget of around £417m, said it would make the final decision in March.

A spokesperson for the council told The Register today: "The timescale for procurement of the new system has moved to ensure the council can properly review its requirements and undertake the appropriate quality assurance reviews. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes to working arrangements over the past year, has also led to some unanticipated delays."

While it was trying to find an ERP supplier, project leadership also switched from chief operating officer Kevin Foster who departed in January to be replaced by Phil Hall as an interim. An audit committee report [PDF] published by the council last year underlines the importance of the incumbent R/3 system, supported by Orbis Information Technology and Digital teams based in Kingston and Lewes, and relied upon by more than 900 users.

In the June 2020 Cabinet Office report [PDF], Foster said the council must move off R/3 as it will "no longer be supported by the supplier beyond 2025 and the existing server hardware is now beginning to show its age with more performance issues arising."

The win will be something of a feather in the cap for Big Red, which has also won a deal to supply ERP software for Norfolk County Council. Meanwhile, Surrey County Council has also opted to move off its ageing SAP system and make the leap to Unit4, a project already beset with delays.

Nobody ever said ERP migrations were easy, and with dilly dallying like this on e can but hope the final implementation goes off without a hitch. ®

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