The Federal Government’s CTO, John Sheridan, has flagged the possibility of a hybrid, onshore/offshore approach to the Government’s proposed enterprise resource planning (ERP) procurement panel.
The Department of Finance released a position paper on 23 June, aimed at advising the local tech industry of its indicative strategy for establishing the ERP panel and inviting feedback from the industry.
Now, Sheridan has used an industry briefing event - held on 7 July - to shed more light on what the Government wants from suppliers for its proposed whole-of-government ERP procurement panel arrangement.
Sheridan reiterated that he anticipated the proposed panel to constitute a software-as-a-service arrangement, but added there may be other possibilities that arise amid industry feedback.
“And we don't want to rule those out at this stage,” he told potential suppliers. “But over the market day and the subsequent consideration of drafts, I do anticipate we will be focusing on software-as-a-service, rather than anything else.”
At the same time, Sheridan opened the door to the potential for offshore hosting for some segments of the data involved in the proposed ERP panel.
“The provision of service from overseas is possible in certain circumstances,” Sheridan said. “Currently, the government has rules about what information has to be held where, but one can imagine contexts, such as hybrid services or hybrid cloud services in which data that does not contain private information could be held overseas, and the private part of that information could be held in Australia.
“There are other options that might be considered,” he said.
Previously, via tender documents, the Government had said merely that it was looking for a partner, or partners that could provide system with “significant expertise and support offered in Australia and overseas and be able to maintain data on shore in Australia, unless agreed to otherwise”.
The move to establish a whole-of-government ERP procurement panel is part of the Federal Government’s Shared Services Program.
The program will be carried out in three stages, though not necessarily in a linear process.
The stages include: consolidation, to establish provider hubs to transition services and build economies of scale; standardisation through cloud-based ERP systems and automated business processes; and contestability, to encourage agencies to adopt a more commercial mindset and improve the performance of existing or proposed government functions.
“Consolidation and standardisation are key. Business systems and processes will be standardised by consolidating service provision from 85 internal service providers, including the current six Hubs, into the six hub,” Teena Blewitt, First Assistant Secretary in the Efficiency and Assurance branch of the Department of Finance, said at the industry briefing.
The Shared Services Program aims to have standard cloud-based systems where appropriate, fewer back-office systems, to drive costs down and allow partnership with the public sector that drives service delivery quality.
Centrally coordinating the management of ERP systems is a key part of the process, according to the Government, and is intended to present an opportunity to reduce costs and increase quality, by establishing better business intelligence and analytical capabilities and consolidating demand for innovative ERP offerings.
All non-corporate Commonwealth agencies are part of the Shared Services Program, which accounts for approximately 90 entities.
On 14 July, the Federal Government called on potential suppliers to come along to a “market day” and pitch their ideas. The market day will be held in Canberra on Wednesday, 26 July 2017.