West Suffolk councils launch shared ERP platform

Two councils in West Suffolk have started sharing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform as part of a plan to streamline operations and cut costs.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council have been sharing management, staff, offices and terms and conditions since 2012, saving them £3.5 million every year.

The authorities will now also share a single technology platform from UNIT4 with a single database, using standard processes and accounting structures.

The councils expect to cut administration costs by sharing business software, as they say it will give staff access to finance and procurement self-service, improve collaboration and allow employees to access the information they need to improve services.

However they are yet to confirm what level of savings they expect the UNIT4 implementation to eventually achieve.

The platform was purchased from and implemented by UK SME and UNIT4 partner Methods Enterprise, taking seven months from start to finish.

The solution can be configured by the internal shared services team so it will be able to adapt to changes and have a lower cost of ownership than traditional ERPs, according to UNIT4.

The platform could be extended to other public sector bodies, supporting the councils’ future aim of extending the shared service to other organisations in the area.

“In a time of public sector funding cuts, technology offers opportunities not just to make savings, but to do things more efficiently,” Cllrs David Ray and Stephen Edwards, cabinet members for resources at the two councils, said.

“Agresso is one of our key corporate systems allowing us to drive shared services and align processes and procedures. We know that continuing change is likely to challenge us with things we haven’t thought of, so having control and ownership of our platforms is going to be critical.”

UNIT4 reported a four percent increase in public sector revenues last year. Recent deals include contracts with announced with Middlesbrough Council, the University of Bristol and Aberdeen University.

The firm’s ERP platform was also chosen as the backbone to central government’s first shared service centre last year, replacing legacy SAP software.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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