back to article Leeds City Council swallows the Gartner glossary and orders up 'post-modern' ERP in £44m SAP replacement

Leeds City Council is huntig down a replacement for its SAP HR and finance system in a bid to leap onto the SaaSy bandwagon. In a tender document, the public authority said it anticipates a 20-year relationship to replace its current core business applications. It is looking for people and finance functions of human resources …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it reserved 'the right to make substantive and relevant changes' "

    And that, right there, is the seed of doom for the project.

    If you don't know by now what you need from your ERP, then your project is doomed from the start.

    You cannot implement any IT project, make "substantive" changes mid-way through, and expect the end result to work.

    What you should do is exhaustively list your needs, the results you expect to be able to work, and get an expert to draw up the specifications that answer those needs. When you have a working platform, then you analyze what changes you require and request their implementation.

    The best project manager I ever had the privilege of meeting was adamant on one point : when there was a meeting to discuss project progress, it was out of the question to add new points to the requirements list. If there were more requirements, he automatically and authoritatively shunted them to version X+1.

    Because he wanted something that worked first. Then you add the bells and whistles.

    It helped that he was IT manager and no-one had any authority to complain, but still.

    1. Robert Grant Silver badge

      Re: "it reserved 'the right to make substantive and relevant changes' "

      > Because he wanted something that worked first. Then you add the bells and whistles.

      This assumes that any new requirement is bells and whistles. That may have been the case in this instance, but I can't tell from your comment whether you appreciate that.

    2. Allonymous Coward

      Re: "it reserved 'the right to make substantive and relevant changes' "

      Leeds City Council said in its tender that it required "the flexibility to retire and/or replace any number of the various components of the Solution over the lifetime of the contract" and that it reserved "the right to make substantive and relevant changes that relate to the transformation programme."

      Translation: "We want a Big Solution. We're happy it may take 20 years, but even we accept we don't have a crystal ball about our requirements in 2042. So we want the ability to change the scope of the Big Solution at any point. This will not cause any problems, and will work better than letting a shorter contract."

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    On the good side, they're not my local council.. On the down side, mine are probably as bad. And who knows what this new West Yorks body with its elected mayor will be like?

    1. Roger Greenwood

      It's going to be a wild ride - the various councils within West Yorkshire (some large, some small) all seem to hate each other. Local rivalry or something but there appears to be very little co-operation and co-ordination between them on the ground. That's before you add South and North to the mix, not forgetting Humberside who couldn't even keep "East" in the name.

      If in doubt rename it - try and find Kirklees town centre on a map. That was an attempt to unify various smaller towns but seems to have ended up alienating a lot of old grumps. Leeds as the unifying force would work as it is the gorilla but is being hugely resisted.

      Northern Powerhouse? We've heard of it. So yes prepare for change as that is the only constant.

      1. Roger Greenwood

        I should add an IT angle that during the fiasco of the poll tax Kirklees was running 4 different billing systems in parallel to try and manage the various local taxing/rates systems. I assume all the other councils (many others just in West Yorkshire) were in a similar position. All duplicating work, all with their own PHBs. etc.

  3. dmfay

    pay me, Leeds

    I've always wanted to deconstruct enterprise resource planning and problematize its implicit imbrications of bodies and spaces by applying a more rhizomatic/Deleuzean paradigm of flows on de- and reterritorialized strata of meaning

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a resident of Leeds...

    And somewhat knowledgeable about the machinations of Leeds City Council (A close friend in the beancounters department - left to count beans for a nobler cause and now helps people with a fetish for white coats, velcro shoes and poorly worded explanations over what good they could do with a bean or two a.k.a. a respected University with actual boffins), I can with some degree of certainty assume that the buzzword bingo boxset has been read whilst consuming the reps cool-aid.

    On the flipside, they do on occasion justify their existence with certain events they put on over the year (Leeds Night Light being a good one, the Leeds International Film Festival is another, as is the Leeds International Beer Festival - thats right, a council sponsored pissup in the townhall).

    I can only hope that the goodones™ get to actually manage it and do something reasonable with the cash rather than piss it up a wall on consultants and latte fees.

    Anon because mutual friends lurk on here too.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've worked on the ERPs for most of the major councils. This isn't a surprise and Leeds’ systems must be long in the tooth by now.

    It won't take 20 years to implement, it's intended to be a 20 year relationship.

    But these systems are hard to get right. In particular councils have a large number of pay conditions which means implementing a working HR and payroll system is harder than it sounds.

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