Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes aim for ‘gold build’ system as new element in shared service
The three lead councils in the LGSS shared service are aiming to develop an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system as the next step in building their joint IT capability.
Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire County Councils and Milton Keynes Council – the owners of the service – have begun work on the project with a plan to use a commodity system as its basis.
Hazel Lewis (pictured), head of IT and print at Milton Keynes, told the Socitm spring conference that the two county councils had already been looking at replacing their finance system but began to see the potential of using one ERP system across the partnership.
She said they are now aiming for one “gold build” designed on principles of certification, standardisation and sharing.
“We want to move away from current systems because they lack convergence and don’t support our transformation ambitions,” she said. “Even if they did have the functionality, the costs to develop within Oracle and SAP are so expensive.
“We’re looking at sharing a single infrastructure, even looking at the system design, development and testing. Doing that over three (councils) is so much more cost-effective. Looking at maintenance, ongoing support, development, even the licensing, our influence with the supplier is no light task, and this gives us a foot in the door to have three of us using it.
“We’re looking at expected savings over seven years to the three councils at just under £10 million.”
Need for convergence
Lewis said that development requires converged systems and processes, so the councils are having to go through each process, and that they are looking to use an “out of the box solution” as the basis, to avoid a large spend on customisation and consultancy.
She said this will also give the councils the opportunity to build and retain the relevant skills in-house.
While she gave no details on the timescale, she said the initial plan is for the three partner councils to use the system, then to offer it to customers of LGSS. The organisation provides IT and other services to a number of other local authorities in the east of England, along with NHS organisations, emergency services, charities and pension funds.
“There’s also potential to share ideas and best practice, and to develop opportunities in the future,” Lewis added.