Oracle partner gets multimillion top-up after Edinburgh Uni disaster

More changes required in wake of ERP go-live that left staff and suppliers waiting for payment

Scotland's University of Edinburgh has awarded systems integrator and support company Inoapps an additional £3.6 million ($4.5 million) contract fee for "changes in requirements and additional work" following a troubled implementation of Oracle that left staff and suppliers paid late.

The additional contractual fee takes the total contract value to £37 million ($46.4 million) on a deal originally signed for £25 million ($31.3 million). The Register reported last year that the contract value had risen by £8 million ($10 million) to account for "changes in requirements and additional work."

According to a procurement document published this week, the university needed more changes than it thought. More were "necessary and largely a result of additional requirements and internal requirements changes," the document said.

It appears as though the new system, Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle HCM Cloud, is taking a bit of time to bed in. In May last year, the university's academic representative body issued a statement of no confidence in the institution over its disastrous enterprise software migration, which left research students and suppliers unpaid.

The senate of the Scottish institution – whose alumni include Charles Darwin, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Alexander Graham Bell – said at the time that management had "yet to answer vital questions about the payment backlog resulting from the implementation."

According to documents seen by The Register, the senate said: "These are elementary questions of project management, which should be able to be answered simply, rapidly and factually. If the answer is not known, that is a scandalous failure of management; if the answer is known and is being withheld, that is a scandal of a different sort."

The most recent procurement documents said Inoapps is supporting the "design of the university's transformed business processes, enabled by the technical solution using the Oracle SaaS platform."

The university said "another contractor would not have access to the Inoapps proprietary methodology for design and implementation" and that "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."

In addition, "any change in contractor would also cause significant disruption, duplication of internal and external costs and also add significant inconvenience and complexity in support arrangements post implementation," the procurement documents said.

"Additional requirements and internal requirements changes" is not a good look for an ERP project first announced in June 2019, when Oracle said the university was moving to the cloud-based Fusion platform.

HR processes went live for all staff in November 2020, while payroll and time sheets launched April 2022. In August 2022, the People and Money system went live.

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In the university's annual report [PDF] from December last year, Peter Mathieson, principal and vice-chancellor, admitted the ERP rollout "caused disruption to students, staff and suppliers."

"We are acutely aware of the impact this has had and we have introduced improvements, additional training and support as part of our robust response. An external review has been completed to highlight what lessons we can learn: this will help to inform future strategic change projects," he said. ®

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