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UK Export Finance moves to Microsoft cloud

07/12/16

Export support body says moving off a 15 year-old outsourcing arrangement in the summer has already delivered more than 20% savings

Central government body UK Export Finance has completed a migration to the cloud in the form of Microsoft Azure and Office 365

The organisation's head of IT, Lawrence Nichols, has outlined the move in a blog on the GDS website, Delivering technology transformation at UK Export Finance, saying it was carried out in July.

It migrated from a 15 year-old outsourcing arrangement with standard components. Services for the new system were all procured via the Digital Markeplace, apart from a core banking system that records and manages all the body’s liabilities, and which is being delivered by a switch to a cloud delivery by the code’s supplier.

The new set-up, with a number of small support organisations each with different specialisms, is bringing “huge opportunities”, Nichols enthuses. These include projected annual savings of over 20% before the group makes any further attempts to optimise.

“Our new infrastructure-free and modular configuration means we’re extremely well-placed to align with our new department (DIT, the Department of International Trade)," he adds.

Nichols says that UK Export Finance, which provides guidance on finance and insurance for exporters, is also planning a number of workflow changes to help it “improve flexibility and explore new ways of collaborating”.

As a result of the move to cloud, he believes, “Instead of trying to find ways to do things, we’re able propose exciting new services - confident that they can be delivered.”

The move away from the long-standing outsourcing deal, derived from the contract being “inflexible” and incapable of meeting the unit’s rapidly changing business needs, Nichols says.

As an internal government IT leader he was also aware of a mandate for change from the centre: “We understood the need to disaggregate the services in line with the Government Digital Service (GDS) Technology Code of Practice, and (so) set about applying the principles to the (our) environment.”

Banking and insurance IT

UK Export Finance is small in Whitehall terms, with under 300 employees, but it needs heavyweight IT, as it manages more than £20 billion of liabilities through IT more associated with banking and insurance than government, he says.

The change seemed “a daunting task”, Nichols admits: “Changing IT service provision could have threatened the delivery of our business targets. But we knew successful completion of the project would drive efficiency and enable future growth.”

Nichols says that the project was a success due to the early recruitment of a technical architect and a project manager with previous experience of this sort of transformation project.

These recruits had useful practical understanding of GDS methodology, he says, and brought “a wealth of knowledge” from previous insourcing moves.

The blog does not mention any suppliers by name.

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