Westminster City Council aims to cut its IT budget by a further 20 percent by moving to the cloud and consolidating its network suppliers.
The local authority’s CIO David Wilde (read Wilde's responses to the CIO Questionnaire), said that he has already reduced the IT budget by 20 percent so far. "I’ve taken 20 percent of the cost of IT out to date, in two years. By the time I’ve finished, I’ll have taken another 20 percent off. It equals to savings of £3.2 million - £1.8 million last year and £1.4 million this year."
To achieve the additional savings, the council is carrying out a number of projects. It is starting by procuring a supplier to continue providing a managed service for its existing core accounting and financial information system, known internally as Westminster Information Management System (WIMS). The contract with the existing supplier, Liberator, is due to expire on 1 April 2011.
The WIMS is delivered using a suite of application modules from Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. According to a contract tender notice, the system is “key to the proper management of the council’s financial accounts, planning and decision-taking processes.”
The contract is valued between £411,250 and £1.175 million. For a contract period of one year, with the option to extend for a period of up to one year, the new provider will be responsible for the supply, implementation and support for WIMS. It will also provide hosting and maintenance of the hardware and support software, application software, processing of BACS and cheque payments and problem resolution.
Additional responsibilities include performing an annual disaster recovery exercise, and establishing robust procedures to recover the council’s data in the event of a system failure.
However, Wilde said that more interesting than who the prospective supplier will be is “the move away from picking a product and moving towards more cloud-based managed products.”
Westminster is looking for a short-term provider so that the contract end date will coincide with the launch of the council’s “new, integrated ERP system”, known as Project Athena, which is expected to be delivered during 2012.
Project Athena aims to align corporate IT systems in across the 32 London boroughs, which may or may not result in Westminster adopting a new ERP system. The project came out of a London councils initiative known as Capital Ambition.
Wilde said: "Why have 10 instances of Oracle [for example] when you can have one, which will be used by a lot of others?"
"Buying at the enterprise level is a more cost-effective level, rather than just the finance or HR department and so on buying what they need." Alongside these projects, Westminster is procuring for the ‘Next Generation Network’, and aims to award the contract in November.
This will be a £160 million framework contract to establish a single managed services provider of wired, wireless, voice and data networks.
"It’s been designed for other London boroughs and the GLA [Greater London Authority] and other authorities to take advantage of," said Wilde, who revealed that Westminster’s current network services are managed by BT, Ericsson and Colt.
"One of the drivers is to pull those together, with fewer suppliers and fewer number of networks," he added.
Wilde said that the local authority has also “competitive dialogue” for the provision of a social care systems managed service, again as part of a framework contract, to cut down on duplications.
"It’s all part of the general plan to get to the cloud by 2015," he said. "The plan is to be 70 percent of the way there by 2012."