back to article UK.gov dangles £100m for service slingers for back office 'transformation' that'll kill off bespoke systems

The UK government is calling for service-pushers to help it overhaul central and local government back-office functions, with a view to deals which could be worth up to £100m. Crown Commercial Service, the government central procurement agency, has issued a prior information notice which calls for "expertise required to …

  1. karlkarl Silver badge

    "which calls for "expertise required to transform back-office functions from bespoke systems to efficient, industry-standard processes..."

    Nah, they are just going to go for some Microsoft crapware in the end anyway. Don't bother putting in a bid. At the very most they will use your solution as a superficial bargaining chip for slightly reducing the millions splurged to Microsoft.

    They don't want you or a decent solution, they pine for Microsoft. Like a good naive government.

    I used the "None" icon because that is what represents the govs other IT considerations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      UK.gov back office stuff is invariably Oracle, with a smattering of SAP. MS's role in this space is small.

      This proposal is code for "help us move everything to Salesforce please". They're certainly not planning a move to Dynamics.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      >"expertise required to transform back-office functions from bespoke systems to efficient, industry-standard processes..."

      And the industry-standard process for doing something like housing benefit?

      Over 20 years back I helped to move a local authority off their proprietary mainframe onto a COTS imaging and workflow system. Yes the platform was Unix/Windows (ie. commodity), yes the imaging and workflow software and associated DBMS were commodity. However, once it was configured to support the processing of such things as housing benefit, council tax etc. it was effectively bespoke as there was no way the council was going to easily move off the resulting commodity platform without a full rewrite of the applications to another commodity platform. So I would assume "industry-standard processes" actually means one supplier for all of government.

      1. tin 2

        This, 100%. Everything in this arena is bespoke, unless you have everyone half manually processing the data with shared files and Excel. And even then you'll probably end up with a load of bespoke macros.

        No, the trick is to get a well-shepherded in-house team who create, intimately know and love the system they give birth to. But ain't nobody got the kahunas for that.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. NeilPost Bronze badge

        Payroll, HR, Procurement, Workflow etc ... processes are the issue - they will vary across government.

        It’s all well and good after off the shelf... but config so they are usable will be the devil in the detail.

        Haven’t we heard this all before ???

  2. Robert Grant Silver badge

    "We want to find out which large IT services provider will badly install some bad enterprise software for us".

    1. Wilco

      "And which software vendors will offer us the lowest upfront cost, followed by the highest annual renewal"

      1. slimshady76
        Childcatcher

        "With the lowest support level"

  3. xyz

    Pmsl

    Nuff said.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    "deals which could be worth up to £100m"

    Is it me, or is the UK Gov making it rain money ?

    And on IT projects, no less. Deals worth £100 million ? Don't worry, by the time the project is finished, it will have cost £500 million and still won't work properly.

    And kill off bespoke systems ? Impossible. Everything government is a bespoke system.

    Unless you want to replace everything with Excel. Which, actually, just might - no, no. Not gonna finish that phrase.

    1. RM Myers Bronze badge
      Unhappy

      ...will have cost £500 million and still won't work properly.

      You must be a real optimist! More likely to be a billion, and never gets installed.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: "deals which could be worth up to £100m"

      And Crapita will get it. Then, eventually Crapita will go bust. 'Lessons will be learned' they'll out source to Crapita's replacement, which will just be as shit and they'll discover the directors who watched over the failure of Crapita, are now running this new outsourced company.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unforeseen Consequences?

    So........we're going to have GCHQ operating in "the cloud". Security? Privacy? Hackers FREELY able to find out what's going on in Cheltenham?

    *

    I love it!! Bring it on!! And only $100 million pounds of taxpayers money....a bargain, surely!

  6. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    A Fish Lots From The Head Down

    "...The lotting structure of this framework will be determined as a result of the market engagement,"

    .

    This is a new one on me --- and whilst there's a refreshingly old-fashioned naive Thatcherite engagement with *M*a*r*k*e*t F*o*r*c*e*s and the power of combining the keen Can-Do competence of Major Businessmen and Advertising wonks to shake up the fuddy-duddy reactionary ways of a complacent, set in its ways, slow Civil Service [ as per Thatcher, Blair and Cummings, to name our most recent Blue Sky Thinking prime ministers ] --- would this be a brave challenging way of saying 'allotting' ?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A Fish Lots From The Head Down

      It sounds more like the way in which the job is to be divided up to be auctioned. It's a technical term in the auction business.

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Back Office Transformations ... but not necessarily as you were initially expecting them to be

    However, I am confident that our end vision will remain fundamentally the same. That is, above all, a future where public servants’ ability to support government priorities and deliver services to the citizen is enhanced by the shared services we provide to them. .... Andy Helliwell, Executive Director, Government Shared Services 26 September 2019

    A future space/time/place where prior government abilities and utilities are scripted to act in support of a current run of public servant delivery promises with enhanced shared services provided to the citizen is the BOT that I'd be rooting for, and that would be a fundamentally radically different vision for realisation and virtual systems administration which results in almost exactly the same practical outcome with the added advantage and benefit of further drivering dynamic solutions feeding and seeding needs ...... and in some cases too, because humans are involved, greeds which can be sated and rendered toxic and self-destructive when desired ..... because it so easily can be done and is an extremely effective means of discouraging all but the most worthy of annihilation for instant permanent removal from the scene.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironic

    "expertise required to transform back-office functions from bespoke systems to efficient, industry-standard processes, enabled by commercial off the shelf software".

    Very ironic, considering the local gov I work for is trying, unsuccessfully and at great cost which they are hiding from the local tax payers, to get rid of all off the shelf software. All so they can write their own in-house apps with an awful piece of low code ware known as MattSoft. What they don't seem to understand, because they are directed by an incompetent, hipster IT director, is that using MattSoft means they are just creating their own in-house bespoke software. Those apps will be written by people on low wage. All who are being forced to do project after project without finishing the first. So each one ends up with little to no documentation.

    Over the years the low paid coders, I like to note they even said at the start "We can just use interns and people from other departments who aren't in IT but might like to learn, to keep costs down", have realised they are getting paid shit for what they do so several have stuck it out for a year and then left. Because MattSoft isn't mainstream (I'm aware some banks use it but not for what we do), they've also realised "I'm learning to be a developer, I can take this experience in MattSoft and use it elsewhere....oh...no....appears I can't. No one else appears to use MattSoft. There are no jobs where MattSoft is required. But plenty of other established languages they could of used. Why didn't they just use those languages then they could of replaced every leaver so easily instead of having to train every single replacement in MattSoft. There are so many C++, C#, .Net developers and so on. And don't get me started on the realisation that I can't even say I've learnt databases, because although that is all MattSoft really is, it breaks all database standards."

    Its infuriating seeing how much money is being wasted on this. Infuriating seeing them hide the ever increasing costs from the local tax payer, infuriating seeing the councillors keep quiet about it who once championed it all because they want to be re-elected. I'm seriously thinking of whistleblowing, but have warned my boyfriend that If I do, I'll have to leave shortly after in case they work out its me as I don't trust their own whistleblower program they have.

  9. markpink

    A laudable aim that won't happen

    Like others on here, I don't really believe this will happen.

    I have some sympathy for having a standardised set of standards so data can pass from one system to another.

    Big central govt will always be bespoke - unless we just want to buy the e-government model that Estonia will share (that would be far too sensible of course).

    Local govt | police | NHS haven't standardised the important things that would allow competition.

    This is often hampered by pernicious practice by IT providers who charge exorbitant fees for API keys to allow interactions between systems.

    This prevents councils moving forward.

    It could all be so much better, cheaper and more efficient.

    Sigh...

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