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Nottingham University awards cloud finance and HR deal in £29.75m deal 2.5 years after Unit4 upgrade

Meanwhile, search for service partner stalls after early engagement over possible £80m contract

Updated Just two and a half years after upgrading its Unit4 HR and finance system, the University of Nottingham has awarded a £29.75m deal to Oracle partner Evolutionary Systems.

In a contract award notice, the institution, which has around 45,500 students on its books, said it was replacing its existing HR, finance, payroll, and procurement systems with "modern technology that will enable [it] to make a step-change in the way it manages its human and financial resources, with knock-on benefits for teaching and research."

According to an earlier procurement notice published in December 2020, the system is expected to support approximately 250 users for HR and finance, 100 professional users for procurement and approximately 5,700 full-time and 2,300 part-time other staff.

The contract was expected to run for 10 years and cost £7.5m in the first year and £2m for each year of the remainder. It said the contract would be awarded in Q3 2021. Given the contract was finally awarded in the second half of December for £29.75m, it seems expected costs have risen and the award is a little late.

The contract winner, Evolutionary Systems, is an Oracle partner and almost exclusively supports Oracle systems in the cloud, strongly suggesting the university will switch from Unit4's Business World to Oracle. The university already uses PeopleSoft Campus Solutions for its student systems.

As reported by The Register, the deal for a new HR and finance system comes two and a half years after the university upgraded its existing installation of Business World, the successor to Agresso. As per a university blog, the finance system got a big upgrade on 1 July 2019.

The blog said: "We will be leap-frogging a number of versions ahead. The upgrade project will deliver some much-needed improvements to usability and process; a cleaner and more modern look and feel, as well as much improved web-based functionality through a single sign-on.

"As we consolidate into Business World, the project will also make changes to some working processes with the aim of improving efficiency and ease of use."

A separate procurement by the same institution appears to have hit the buffers. In June, it began an early market engagement for an IT services vendor, wafting between £50m and £80m to tempt them to the table.

A contract notice formally launching the tender competition was expected in July, but none has appeared. The Prior Information Notice imagined the vendor would "provide strategic advice and guidance and support the delivery and modernisation of its foundational IT services across the University."

Nottingham University has been invited to comment on both the HR and finance deal and the service partner procurement. ®

Updated to add at 1002 UTC

A spokesperson for Nottingham University said: "Subject to approval by University Council, Evosys has been selected as the implementation partner from April 2022 for our new HR, Finance and Procurement software solution.

"This will improve and standardise services, such as the way we make purchases, and undertake recruitment, payroll and reporting. It will be underpinned by a new Oracle Cloud software solution and is expected to replace more than 40 legacy systems with integrated, reliable and secure software that can be accessed from any mobile device."


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