The government has announced plans for a £750m shared Oracle ERP platform. If given the go-ahead, this framework will join suitable partners and place them on a select few shared Oracle platforms to work together across the public sector.
Today, ERP is not just ERP. Everything is integrated, meaning there is a range of requirements to consider when choosing an integrator, relating to internal and external stakeholders, database and middleware platforms.
They also need to consider where the infrastructure is hosted – on-premise or cloud, private or public. How should you consume services at SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS levels, for example?
In a perfect world, one SI would be responsible for an organisation's IT environment. However, even the largest IT provider cannot cover every angle, especially in a complex implementation for a customer such as the NHS.
Niche skills are essential to support specific business processes and to ensure compliance, portability and maintainability. Larger SIs tend not to host such a wide range of skills.
Large shared service centres, managed by large SIs, can work well but more often than not, a consortium is required to ensure the best expertise and combination of products is available, that it all works well together, and that the project does not take longer than necessary.
End users want best-of-breed, yet this often means specialisation, found in niche providers that understand their clients' area of operation, their requirements and those of the application.
With too many contractors who do not all have the same skills, either in the specific product set or industry knowledge, delivery becomes more difficult and can be delayed. Delays can lead to reworks, increased costs and disappointed customers.
But all these problems can be eliminated if things are done properly from the start.
Large programmes require ownership and accountability. Employing an SI does not stop at the selection process.
The government's recommendation to use multiple providers is welcome. Smaller IT specialists can make the difference between project success and failure, as well as facilitate flexibility.
Keith Rock is sales director at Arcivate
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