City of London ditches Oracle for SAP in search of ERP enlightenment

Four years after first approaching market for new system, public body hopes to start working with SI

Updated The City of London is searching for a systems integrator to help it make the leap to the cloud after selecting SAP to replace a predominantly Oracle enterprise application portfolio.

The UK public authority, which encompasses the "Square Mile" financial district at the center of the city, has published a tender notice to find an SI to "lead and … deliver the implementation of the new system as a comprehensive, fully integrated, cloud based, SAP ERP solution from an established industry-leading solution supplier."

The notice comes about three and a half years after the City of London, which received its first recorded Royal Charter shortly after the Norman conquest in 1066, began the search for a new ERP system. At the time it used an Oracle E-business Suite 12 system for finance and property management, while other vendors provided the remaining ERP functions including HR and payroll.

The procurement notice for an SI said City of London Corporation recently selected SAP as its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution and "now seeks an experienced Service Integrator (SI) to deliver the implementation of its ERP, for finance, HR, payroll, and procurement."

In a statement, a City of London spokesperson said: "We are looking for a service integration partner to support our ERP transformation, following the selection of our software provider.

"As a complex, multi-faceted organisation we have thoroughly reviewed our requirements and look forward to working with an SI partner to implement an end-to-end ERP system that covers all essential business functions and seamlessly integrates them to support our organisation's strategic objectives and operational efficiency."

The authority has so far refused to say exactly when it awarded the German software vendor the contract, or how much the deal was worth.

However, the length of the procurement process may well have already caused some costs. In November last year, it awarded Oracle a contract £233,147 (c $294k) for "the purchase of additional licenses (which come with 12 months of technical support) and the ongoing technical support for the existing licences" until March 31, 2026.

A report from the Finance Committee [PDF] said that it wants to have SI in place by June 2024.

"The City Corporation has used the same core back-office systems for finance, HR, payroll and procurement for over 20 years. The systems are now either out of support (Oracle) or an unsupported platform (City People) which causes the City of Corporation the need to procure third-party support and invest staff time in prolonging their life to deliver critical services," it said.

The finance report said a "Restricted Procedure" took place to select an SaaS ERP solution, with the "Court of Common Council approving the award to the preferred bidder in November 2023." That meeting restricted public access.

The report promised the system "will support increased self-service for all staff, giving access to real-time data … enabling the streamlining of back-office and optimising resources through efficiencies."

It says it will go for a "fit to standard" principle by which it will "embrace modern technologies, methodologies, and changes rather than merely modifying the solution to fit with their current ways of working."

The City of London is going against the grain when it comes to UK public body decision making around ERP. Birmingham City Council, East Sussex County Council, West Sussex County Council, and Surrey County Council have all decided to move off SAP.

Birmingham decided to move to Oracle and Surrey moved to Unit4, although both took a similar approach to the "fit to standard" principle preferred by the City of London, only to find they met significant challenges going live with the software. Birmingham has been unable to file audited accounts, while Surrey has struggled to pay school staff on time or the right amount.

The City of London will hope it fares better with its ERP vendor decision. ®

Updated to add on February 20:

The contract award for SAP has yet to be announced.

A City of London spokesperson said: "The Authority has completed the selection process for the ERP solution after a thorough and compliant tender process. We are currently finalising contract details with SAP, our preferred bidder. The award notice, which will outline the procurement outcome and specifics, is set to be issued shortly following the completion of these final stages."

Updated to add on April 8:

A freshly published contract confirms that City of London has awarded a £6.4 million contract to SAP to replace Oracle and other ageing enterprise systems. The current term of the contract is set to last until June 2029.

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