Synergy cluster seeks input ahead of going to market
One of government’s shared-services clusters has signed a £1m-plus consultancy to help shape the “technical vision” for uniting the back-office systems of four of Whitehall’s biggest departments.
The Synergy cluster is one of five groupings, each of which will contains various departments and agencies that will be united on a common shared software infrastructure for functions such as enterprise resource planning, finance, and HR systems.
Synergy is intended to bring together government’s most delivery-centric departments, and includes the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Department for Work and Pensions – which is the designated lead department.
Newly published commercial documents reveal that, on 1 February, the DWP entered into a six-month contract with Capgemini.
Under the terms of the £1.4m deal, the IT services firm will help the shared-services programme to “develop the digital and data elements of the statement of requirements which represents the aligned technical vision for the Synergy departments”.
This vision will inform the specifications of an upcoming tender process through which the cluster will seek to appoint a core supplier that can provide ERP products and system integration services.
The terms of the contract state that Capgemini will conduct research and analysis activities and then offer “advice and guidance” as plans are developed to design and implement the technical architecture that will underpin the shared systems. This will include “providing critical oversight to the technical elements of the agreed statement of requirements” that will be set out in an upcoming invitation to tender.
As well as a detailed technical vision, this statement will also map out “user needs, pain points and service-improvement opportunities” of the shared-services rollout.
A progress report on government’s shared services ambitions published in November by the National Audit Office revealed that Synergy was one of three clusters that had received approval for a formal business case. This plan set out anticipated costs of £600m, and expected benefits of £1.18bn over a period of 15 years.
The NAO revealed that Synergy’s bid for funding in government’s 2021 spending review was rejected, but that HM Treasury has subsequently “approved a funding envelope of up to £300m” to support the delivery of the shared-services strategy by three clusters. This includes Synergy, as well as HMRC-led Unity cluster, which also features the Departments for Transport and Levelling-Up, and the Matrix segment, which focuses on government’s most policy-focused departments, and includes the Cabinet Office, Treasury, Attorney General’s Office, and Departments for: Education; Science, Innovation and Technology; and Business and Trade.
The Matrix grouping recently signed a £6.5m deal with HR consultancy Veran Performance, which will support the design and delivery of shared services over the course of a two-year contract.