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Edinburgh Uni finds extra £8M for vendors after troubled ERP go-live

Staff and suppliers paid late last year, new requirements lead to contract price hike

Vendors working on an Edinburgh University ERP project have been awarded around £8 million ($9.81 million) in additional fees following a troubled implementation which led to delays in paying staff and suppliers.

The institution has confirmed implementation partner Inoapps and software company Oracle will see the price of their contract rise from £25.4 million ($31.1 million) to £33.5 million ($41.12 million), owing to changes in requirements and additional work orders by the customer. The contract value had initially been erroneously stated as £20.5 million ($25 million).

A new procurement notice published late last week said the university had “undertaken a number of contract modifications with Inoapps” to “allow for changes in requirements and additional work to be delivered under the existing contract.”

“These modifications were necessary and largely a result of additional requirements and internal requirements changes,” it said.

Perhaps it is easy for observers to see why requirements might need to change.

In November last year, it emerged that staff at the university, together with its suppliers, had been paid late as a result of the new HR and finance system delivered by Oracle and Inoapps.

Local media reported wage packets had been delayed by two to three weeks while some suppliers had stopped providing services because invoices had not been settled.

Later that month, the university’s senate, a representative body made up of students and academics, wrote to the institution’s management to voice “urgent and profound concern” over the new finance software, which left staff with no pay for weeks, suppliers’ bills unpaid, and students at risk of homelessness.

By the end of the month, the university ordered a review into its disastrous go-live system. In an email seen by The Register, principal Professor Peter Mathieson committed to undertaking an external review to highlight what lessons it could learn and help to inform further improvements. He also apologized to staff for the “unacceptable position” the software had put them in.

In the tender notice, the university said it was unable to consider alternative suppliers to Inoapps because “another contractor would not have access to the Inoapps proprietary methodology for design and implementation; and disclosure of the methodology or technical products from that approach to a third party would be a breach of confidentiality.

“As such a change of contractor cannot be made for these technical reasons,” the notice said.

The contract was signed in 2019 for an initial five-year period, with the option to extend four times for a period of three years. In June 2019, Oracle announced the university was moving to Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle HCM Cloud, both applications based on the Oracle Cloud-based Fusion platform. Later that summer, integration partner Inoapps said it had won the deal to support the project. In January 2021, it was reported that the project's first stage had gone live, with finance and HR modules to follow. ®

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