North-west councils agree to share technology platform
Liverpool and Salford councils have announced they are to share a technology platform that provider SAP hopes will expand across the north.
Liverpool Royal Liver Building and Salford quays - Photo credit: Flickr, Beverley Goodwin / Wikimedia Commons
The agreement will see the councils collaborate on a shared SAP platform, which will allow them to pool resources and develop new processes, as well as working on their own private and secure networks.
Darren Hunt, the director of the public sector for UK and Ireland at SAP, said that the collaboration sat somewhere between a classic out-sourced model and a shared services model.
“It allows the organisations to become more independent and build a broader capability across the organisations; it’s about how they move forward without always relying on third parties,” he said.
The company hopes that other councils will follow suit, with Hunt saying that some in the north-west and north-east were “looking with interest” at the collaborative platform. “We kind of see this as a northern platform – but it doesn’t bar anybody from the furthest south from joining,” he said.
Both Liverpool and Salford are legacy customers of SAP’s, and Hunt said the collaboration came about through discussions between all three partners. He noted that Liverpool had previously been in a long-term business outsourcing agreement with BT, which ended 18 months ago, and so wanted to try something innovative.
The partnership will also see the pair upgrade from their existing SAP platform to the company’s a real-time enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite S/4 HANA by early 2017.
This platform will increase the councils’ abilities to share data in real-time, which Hunt said would allow them to make better-informed and more timely decisions to both improve processes and save money.
“Cost saving is always in the back of any local authority’s mind, but this is broader than that,” Hunt told PublicTechnology. “It's around improving local services and having a more engaged and more empowered workforce.”
The councils will be able to move some of their services online, he said, which would allow them to redeploy staff working on those to the front office.
Salford’s city mayor Paul Dennett agreed, saying: “This collaboration provides an exciting opportunity for us to maintain the quality of front line services and at the same time develop a technology platform that could support the wider economic growth in our regions.”
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