West Sussex County Council faces two-year delay to replace ageing SAP system for Oracle

Project hits the buffers after 'increased understanding' of the product


West Sussex County Council faces a two-year delay to a £7.5 million Oracle ERP project once offered up as an exemplar of the company's competitive position against SAP.

The English public authority, which controls net expenditure of £625 million, had planned to replace its 20-year-old SAP ERP system with a new solution based on Oracle's Fusion software-as-a-service. According to a board report from 2019 [PDF], they'd planned for the new system to be operational by April 2021.

However, another board report [PDF] from May last year said the system would be live by the end of 2021 as that's when the council's contracts supporting the German vendor's software expired.

The SMARTCORE Programme, to use the council's internal demarcation, has a total budget of around £7.5 million, including a £3.8 million five-year contract with implementation partner Entserv UK.

But a board paper from earlier this month revealed the project was not going quite as expected.

"After an extended review of the predesign phase of the project based on our increased understanding of the Oracle product the project is now increasing in pace with a planned implementation in the spring of 2023," it said.

According to an official statement from the council, an "increased understanding" of the product it had already decided to buy was not the only cause for the delay.

A spokesperson said: "The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular upon the capacity of staff to support the delivery of a complex programme of works, has resulted in an extension to the timetable. The County Council currently continues to use and support SAP."

The council has been asked about the cost of further SAP support.

The SAP system is most likely R/3 as several documents say the system dates back to 2001, and SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) was not launched until 2004.

The council has not responded to questions about how much the extended SAP support is costing, or who it is relying on for the service.

Coincidentally, West Sussex County Council's decision to ditch SAP in favour of Oracle was held up as an example of Big Red's competitive prestige by none other than Oracle founder and CTO Larry Ellison. On an earnings call in March, he said the birthplace of Percy Bysshe Shelley was to enjoy "complete wall-to-wall Oracle … No more SAP".

He didn't mention anything about an "increased understanding" of the product putting back the project by two years, but maybe he didn't have time in his presentation.

The council is not alone in getting its teeth into an ERP project only to find it might be biting off more than can be comfortably chewed.

Neighbouring East Sussex County Council is nine months behind in its project owing to delays in procurement.

To the north, Surrey County Council decided to replace its SAP R/3 system, which by all accounts was not far from falling over, with software from Unit4. Delays to that project have forced the council to stump up £700,000 to extend its SAP support. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022