Lincolnshire County Council is to take a share in the ownership of the Hoople shared service along with moving to its Business World ERP platform.
The council’s executive made the decision on Tuesday, following a long running deliberation on whether to move away from using a Serco ERP before its contract with the company expires in March 2022.
It has opted to move to Hoople with a redesign of the digital system, which is expected to take 15 months for completion in April 2021.
Hoople is a private limited company currently owned by Herefordshire Council and Wye Valley NHS Trust, providing a range of services to the public sector including IT, HR, payroll and finance.
While Lincolnshire plans to take up part ownership, it will award a direct contract to the service to use its Business World (formerly Agresso) platform.
The decision follows continual reports of problems with the existing system. A report submitted to the executive says it had been configured in a way that made them difficult to resolve, and while the issue could be overcome the council currently lacks the in-house capability to do so.
This has led it to move towards the Hoople option, citing its experience in configuring Business World for several public sector organisations.
Part ownership choice
It has also agreed with Herefordshire Council that it should it take up part ownership of the shared service, which enables it to directly award a contract and gives it an influence over the direction of the Business World system. They are aiming for a seven-year agreement with an option to extend for a further two.
The estimated cost of moving to the Hoople platform is £1.8 million, compared with £2.35 million for Lincolnshire to rebuild the system.
A spokesperson for Lincolnshire said: “Last year when the Serco contract was extended, we took the opportunity to bring the management of the HR element of the Business World system back into the council to form an integrated team that could carry out a thorough look at the functionality and the issues in the system.
“The results of this work have seen proposals for a redesign of the system being proposed to the council’s executive.”
Speaking in April 2018 when the council announced it was considering the move, its interim chief executive Richard Willis said that some services, such as payroll, had “not been run as we expected” under the Serco deal. This prompted it to look at alternatives in the market.
“The option to enter a shared service agreement with Hoople is recommended to give the council increased confidence in its payroll arrangements by partnering with an organisation who specialises in local authority payroll,” he said.
Image by Gemma Mond, from Lincolnshire County Council