back to article UK government's newest department to lead mega ERP procurement

A five-month-old UK government department is set to lead a massively complex ERP procurement to bring together software running some of Whitehall's largest units. Expected to bring together up to 48,000 users on 15 instances of nine different software solutions, the tender for the Matrix cluster of the ERP program was …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "deal could be worth up to £215.6 million for 10 years"

    Oh man, they are soo off base.

    The potential cost overruns, the near-certainty of the end product not being satisfactory, the endless delays . . .

    Why not just skip all the hassle and start sueing right away ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "deal could be worth up to £215.6 million for 10 years"

      No, too soon. That will only happen *after* the pork barrel fest for consultancies friendly with parts of the government.

      Or did you think any of this was for the benefit of citizens? I may have bad news then..

  2. Flak

    What could possibly go wrong?

    My suspicion is that legacy systems - and more importantly - legacy bespoke processes will be retained, leading to an integration nightmare rather than a standard agreed deployment across different stakeholders.

    This will lead to a constant tinkering on the integration side, an industry around consultancy and implementation specialists, delays, additional cost and in the end a system that is just as unwieldy as the separate systems were, leading to a total lock-in.

    There should be a target architecture with standard processes and interfaces, meaning that at some point in the future a potential migration may be a large undertaking, but far less complicated than going through the same mess that will be waded through during the implementation phase here.

    Wouldn't it be nice to actually learn from the past and plan for the future?

    1. cookieMonster Silver badge

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      “Wouldn't it be nice to actually learn from the past and plan for the future?”

      They have!! Fuck it up, drag it out, keep the lolly rolling in. They can’t be and won’t be punished, ever.

      Joke icon, cause that’s what these projects are.

  3. xyz Silver badge

    Oh my.....

    Don't these people ever learn? ERP is a hellscape at the best of times but lob in assorted goverment departments and it's a full on 100% crash and burn and that's before you start tagging everything with restricted markings, hiding embarassing stuff and selecting approved (and obfuscated) users.

    I don't know who is in charge of the Dept of New Stuff but I do know s/he is out of their depth already.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Oh my.....

      It's Michelle Donelan, whose achievements include a BA in Politics and History and speaking at the Tory conference when she was just 15.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        "BA in Politics and History "

        But sadly not the history of governement IT failures.

        Which would have been quite a relevant subject for her to study.

        Yet another Minister with a "Big Idea."

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a way..

    .. but that would involve rolling back some of the stupidity infesting government IT (it involves applying some techniques that are normally used to speed up M&A integrations).

    Given that the aforementioned stupidity is *extremely* profitable for some I don't expect to see that happen any time soon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is a way..

      in some circles, M&A integration starts by sending the losing party behind the barn and shooting them...

      Can we do that with the Tories?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm assuming there is some sort of roadmap to achieve this, it'll be unfunded as usual, i.e. no actual idea of the amount it will cost. One of the consultancies will come in with a boilerplate approach, charge millions, then bleat they weren't there to deliver anything but just advise.

  6. Ashto5 Bronze badge

    How about we dont

    How about we don’t do this.

    The government should work with universities to design a fully fledged system and then work with them to deliver it.

    Just piling in consultants will just mean extra billings and massive overrun.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about we dont

      Work with universities!? To develop software?! Are you having a f**king laugh?? Have you ever seen the quality of code that comes out of most universities? For part of my Master's CompSci project I had to try to extend a million line Java monolith codebase written by some "genius" with zero documentation, zero use of established patterns and practices, zero tests.

      Have you seen the infamous codebase that was used for the COVID modelling? It was terribly written. And there are plenty more examples where they came from.

      And that's before you take into consideration that most academics reside in ivory towers with no idea of how the real world works.

      Honestly getting Universities to build software might be cheaper than consultancies but the chance of getting anything even close to fit-for-purpose and production-ready is even slimmer than if the usual suspects are paid through the nose for it.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Perhaps a look at Birmingham City Council is instructive.

    2019 Decide to take IT back in house.

    Switch from heaviliy bespoked SAP to Oracle.

    Estimate £20m

    Current estimate £100m

    Migrating a single major ERP to another single ERP.

    This top-down centrally planned migrate-and-merge has f**ked up so many times before what's the odds HMG wil succeed? 100:1?

    Don't get me wrong. Data centres should be merged to the places with the lowest operating costs. Remote working staff should not have to migrate if that's somewhere remote (next to a hydrolectric dam in Cumbria for example).

    But it should be organic, encouraging mergers, not forcing them.

    Of course following the successful campaign by SI's to emasculate the Civil Service of not just people who can do technology but even people who can manage the process of doing technology they have no f**king clue of what a s**tstorm this will be.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps a look at Birmingham City Council is instructive.

      They will find a team of very competent consultants, then decide these people are inside IR-35 and a few hours later wonder why they leave the country...

  8. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

    This will never be finished…..

    …. so after 10 years someone will have had a “better” idea and some other vendor will be invited to have a crack.

    Far better, as discussed above, to migrate each department to the same core IT so they could (maybe) be integrated in the future. But just integrating their Active Directories gives me shivers down my spine, let alone anything else!

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: This will never be finished…..

      They don't have Active Directories, they have Rolodex...

  9. Colin Bain

    Simple equation

    Government + tech + system update = Cost over-run + disaster+ time wasted+lives irredeemably damaged and suicides

  10. IanW

    Completely mad. Agree standards to remove interdependencies and let them use what they have (skills and investments) where they are. It’s a classic System Integrator money binge fest that will not deliver a bean other than years of heat.

    The best thing we ever did was to implement a system against a very tight timescale, which by its very nature relegated all the “we’ve always done it this way” type perversions that lead to unnecessary customisations. Build out once you have the code. There is a better way.

  11. PeterM42

    This Project needs a name.

    I suggest "FUCKUP":







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