Financial systems options review
The project issues
Alnwick District Council (ADC) and Berwick Borough Council both have ASP contracts with the same supplier which expire in 2008. They wanted to review jointly the various options open to them and potentially a third authority - Castle Morpeth - with which Alnwick has a partnership arrangement for ICT services.
Socitm Consulting won a competitive tender to review future options for the two authorities including where the services should operate, e.g. remotely as under the ASP service or locally, and also to advise on the selection of software. All options had to comply with European Procurement Rules.
The Socitm Consulting solution
The Socitm Consulting team included experts in Smart Procurement and EU procurement rules and in the business and technical issues around financial systems for district councils. The approach and the key deliverables were agreed at an initial meeting.
The first task was to interview staff at all three authorities and to identify the issues. These included service levels, accommodation, functionality, support and costs. Officers and users were interviewed to gain understanding of the practical issues and the business requirements. Existing and potential suppliers were also contacted to discuss their perspective and any added value that could be gained by working more closely with them. A workshop was then held with Alnwick and Berwick staff to validate the issues and rank the problems. The outputs from the workshop were then used to develop a list of options to consider further and outline criteria to use to evaluate the options.
A cost model was developed and populated with budget figures. Costs were examined and our consultants’ market place knowledge used to develop and analyse a range of options from both the business and technology perspectives.
A further meeting was held with the project sponsors to feed back the findings and discuss next steps. The findings reinforced the need to act well ahead of the end of contracts to allow time to talk to the market and to conduct a formal procurement project, and still allow reasonable time to implement new services and potentially new systems in a suitable window. The project sponsors accepted and acted upon this recommendation.
The final report recommended that the next step was for the authorities to enter jointly into discussions with potential suppliers including the incumbent supplier, the County Council and other third parties we had identified as being actively interested in the opportunity.
It was also suggested that potential savings under the new agreements should be reinvested in a middleware solution to improve radically the sharing of information both internally and externally, since systems integration issues had come out as a key problem for both authorities.
The project was completed under budget and Socitm Consulting has offered to support the two authorities in entering into supplier dialogues and in running a formal procurement project.
The benefits to the client
Both authorities had the benefit of an independent external review that focused the diverse issues into key criteria that could be scored and evaluated. They had the benefit of wider market awareness, and a facilitated workshop to help bring staff involved to a common awareness and understanding of the options and factors involved. The clients took on board some of the concepts from Smarter Procurement including creation of a vision of future needs and outcome-based requirements definition.
Client organisation: Alnwick District Council and Berwick Borough Council
Client contacts: Martin James, Director of Property and Resources (ADC), 01665 511665, firstname.lastname@example.org; Richard Dell, Head of Accountancy and Audit, 01289 301730, email@example.com
Lead consultant: Terry Street
Project no: 5512
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