back to article HMRC launches £500M procurement for new ERP, though project's already a 'red' risk

The UK's tax collector is seeking software and technical services suppliers to replace its SAP ERP with a subscription-based product, in a project already judged a "red" risk by the government's projects watchdog. The procurement — launched in line with the 2021 shared services strategy — will also provide vital software for …

  1. Vehlin

    Change your process not the software

    The big failing I always see in these big ERP projects is the customer's insistence that the ERP change to work with their byzantine processes, rather than change their processes to keep the system as close to stock as possible. You end up spending millions trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole and then realising at the end of it that you just have a broken hole and have to start again.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Change your process not the software

      Not only that but the so called "processes" often being each civil servant having their own way of filling spreadsheets and not really following any "official" processes (if they exist at all).

      Most likely this will fail on trying to decipher what exactly the process is and whose method is authoritative and then if they somehow find / create a standard, how to stop the spreadsheet habit and enter existing spreadsheets into the system.

      So yes this looks like at an attempt to funnel tax payer money to another consultancy that will pretend to do the work, then the project will be scrapped when new government come in and whoever wins the tender will leave with bags of money.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Change your process not the software

      Funnily enough i know someone who installs SAP as their job and said best advice i can give anyone is change the way you work to how SAP works not the other way round.

  2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    £214M vs £500

    HRMC said the total baseline whole-life costs of the project would be £214 million. The tender notice put the maximum value of the procurement at £500 million

    So before even starting, they're saying that the procurement value will be double the expected whole life costs? Have government departments learned nothing from previous large-scale procurements?

    Obviously it'll go over budget by way more than just two times.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: £214M vs £500

      Who cares? What counts is that whichever big consultancy gets selected they'll make a killing.

      and thanks to exemption from IR35 they'll be able to make a massive profit and if they are multinational at that, probably will pay next to no tax.

  3. xyz Silver badge

    I say....

    Is that an out of control gov software project falling out of the sky?

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Usual suspects

    I wonder if the company taking up the project has been predetermined.

  5. Philip Storry


    Well this is just spectacularly bad timing.

    Imagine the effect the meetings will have on Dry January!

    Won't somebody please think of the salespeople? ;-)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FFS .... yet another ill-defined vague 'Request for Magic' Project.

    How is it possible to generate such a craptacular 'RFT' that has already been identified as a failure before the responses have been received !!!

    This smacks of yet another clever way to give a project to one of the 'usual suspects' with enough leeway to justify doubling/tripling the original cost on day One, due to 'unforeseen' issues / project creep.

    The only thing this will deliver is enormous commissions for the Sales-people and small/medium country GNP sized profits for the Consultancy !!!

    I predict that the project will, as per usual, be 5 years late / 3 times the original tendered price and deliver less than 60% of the functionality required !!!


    I expect it will be discovered that there is less than 50% commonality of process / procedures between the HMRC, Department for Transport (DfT) and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) which will *only* be discovered after the tender has been awarded to the 'Usual Suspect', so costs will have to be re-negotiated .... on day One !!!


    1. IanRS

      Re: FFS .... yet another ill-defined vague 'Request for Magic' Project.

      But these processes are 'intuitive'! I suspect that really means undocumented.

  7. Paul 87

    Having worked with for an SME ERP software developer for the past decade and a half, I can safely say that this project will fail as I guarentee that there will be too many "key decision makers" who will block things that they don't like, and hold differing views to their equivilents in the other departments.

    It's hard enough to get a company of 20 people to agree, but on this scale? It's impossible.

    They'd be better off using discrete solutions and agree a data reporting standard, so that performance figures can be compared and shared easily.

  8. bregister

    "all three departments in the cluster"

    I can think of another word that should go after "cluster" ...

    1. sketharaman

      Since this is a "family site", I'll restrict my speculation to "buck", "muck" and "suck". Am I right or amirite?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    G*d help us if Sauron is choosen!

    If they select Oracle as the DBMS you should leave the UK, forever! Birmingham's woes will pale in comparision to the inevitable #epicfail that replacement would be!

  10. Swashbuckled

    It would be so nice if someone - anyone - in the Government had a teeny inkling about IT. Don’t forget that this bunch is led by Ministers who can’t even remember how to find WhatsApp messages on their (mislaid) phones. In the absence of knowledge, they use consultants at a cost of £1500 per day per person.

    To cap it all, the Secretary of State responsible for “Innovation” and all things IT is one Michelle Donelan, whose career prior to entering politics was in marketing - for both the magazine Marie Claire, and (wait for it) World Wrestling Entertainment.

    No further questions, M’Lud.

  11. sketharaman

    Hard enough to get one company with 150 employees (Dunbar number) to agree to a common set of business processes. Good luck expecting three government agencies to do so. But, wait a sec, I remember reading "However, the necessary business transformation and associated change management are not within the scope of the contract.", so best wishes for a jackpot to whoever wins this contract.

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