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Rob Anderson

Principal analyst, public sector, GlobalData

Will the MoJ’s plans for a £100m shared services framework prove more fruitful than those before it?

Government-wide shared services has a long and chequered history in procurement circles. But two years on from the revamped Shared Services Strategy, now in its third generation, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is aiming to lead the way to back-office nirvana. On Wednesday it issued a pre-tender for a SaaS-based ERP solution to initially cover the needs of its own 82,000 staff, but with the possibility of being opened up to other central government bodies through a framework worth up to £100m. 

Back in April, we mused over the recent attempts to deliver successful shared service arrangements under the guise of the Cabinet Office over the last nine years. While prospective suppliers will no doubt be encouraged by the rising level of activity in this area, many will be surprised that the MoJ has now stepped up to the plate. Back in 2014, the ministry was forced to abandon its plans for its own shared service implementation based on Oracle products, incurring a £56m loss in the process. Instead it decided to be part of the centre set-up by the Cabinet Office in conjunction with Sopra Steria, Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) and also known as ISSC2. 

The mood music in Whitehall suggests that SSCL has largely failed in its objectives to move to a Single Operating Platform (SOP) in the cloud, so it’s unsurprising that individual departments are seeking alternatives. And although six years is a long-time in the evolution of IT projects, we’ve seen no evidence from Petty France that the MoJ is any more likely to now hit the headlines for the right reasons. Problems with other major programmes such as the Common Platform and Criminal Justice Reform running behind schedule and over-budget suggest the opposite. 

However, we wish them every success while advising interested SaaS-based ERP providers to approach with caution. The prior information notice (PIN) suggests the MoJ is looking at a 10-year engagement, so the opportunity is unlikely to yield any quick win. Those with deep pockets who are prepared to risk their fingers being burned may register their interest via the email address listed in the OJEU notice.

Rob Anderson is principal analyst in GlobalData’s public sector division. NS Tech and GlobalData are part of the same group.