Europe's largest city council runs parallel systems to cover Oracle rollout mess

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Birmingham City Council is moving parallel systems to compensate for nan troubled implementation of an Oracle strategy which will suck successful £46.5 cardinal ($58.81 million) successful further spending successful nan existent financial year.

The Council's Cabinet committee heard officials opportunity this week that nan assembly was moving parallel systems to guarantee its financial reporting was up to date, moreover though it went unrecorded pinch nan Oracle finance strategy successful April past year.

Roger Harmer, Liberal Democrat councillor, told nan Cabinet gathering that not each nan further spending was going towards fixing nan Oracle system.

"The briefing I had was much astir ensuring that nan statutory reports nan assembly has to springiness are fixed by… moving parallel systems to guarantee that each nan financial reports are made. It is not really fixing Oracle," he said.

Ewan Mackey, lawman leader of Birmingham Conservatives, said immoderate suppliers to schools had received copy payments, while different had not been paid, owing to problem pinch nan system.

Brigid Jones, furniture personnel for finance, said nan assembly had employed a dedicated serviceman to thief schools woody pinch nan issues they faced because of nan Oracle implementation.

Birmingham City Council is nan largest section authority successful Europe by population, pinch astir £3.4 cardinal ($4.2 billion) successful gross per annum. It has been struggling pinch nan task to switch SAP pinch Oracle's Fusion unreality strategy to support halfway HR and finance functions since 2018. The ERP task was reviewed successful 2019, 2020, and again successful 2021, erstwhile nan full implementation costs for nan task was put astatine £38.7 cardinal ($47.8 million), "doubling nan cost," Robert Alden, Conservative leader, told nan assembly successful April.

Estimates fixed to nan press propose nan full costs of nan task could tally to £100 cardinal ($126.4).

Jones said nan assembly was now moving to "stabilize nan situation" to guarantee it could present connected its statutory legal, contractual and argumentation obligations, arsenic good arsenic optimize nan original imagination for Oracle successful statement pinch nan instruction from furniture agreed successful July 2019 and March 2021.

The bosom of nan problem pinch nan implementation is nan assembly changed tack connected a captious dilemma faced by astir ERP rollouts: whether to alteration business processes to fresh nan caller package aliases modify nan package to fresh business processes. Either way tin beryllium difficult. Business alteration programmes tin neglect without capable time, resources and goodwill among users. Customizing package tin beryllium challenging and leaves tech teams pinch a load of systems difficult to support and upgrade, incurring costs successful nan future.

"The assembly had planned to adopt nan Oracle system, changing its existing business processes and upskilling unit to support its implementation," a recent assembly report said. The study went connected to say: "This is what members gave officers support for done Cabinet papers successful July 2019 and March 2021. However, officers evolved nan attack towards adapting nan strategy - meaning that Oracle was customized to meet nan council's existing business processes. This displacement successful accent (from take to adaptation) has severely impacted upon nan council's expertise to decently instrumentality nan Oracle system."

Jones said an independent guidance reappraisal would see why nan scheme for nan implementation changed.

"Cabinet gave support for 1 people of action. That people of action changed. The guidance reappraisal will spell into why that changed. It's important it is reported backmost to Cabinet that what Cabinet approved did not hap and thing other happened instead," she told councillors this week.

Councillors suggested nan Cabinet was trying to debar work for nan task going off-track.

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Robert Alden, leader of nan Conservative Group astatine Birmingham City Council, said: "The mobility is, why wasn't nan Cabinet pursuing making judge they were alert of what changes were happening? The Cabinet looks astatine nan consequence registry each nan measurement through."

Mackey said he'd asked astir nan problems pinch Oracle successful June 2022, and was told location was "intense Cabinet oversight" connected nan situation. "You each knew astir nan problems; they didn't conscionable look successful February aliases March. If that is true, it implies that you knew what was going on, and location is an effort to dodge nan slug and gloss complete everything," he said.

Sources adjacent to nan task person told The Register nan modular processes successful Oracle Fusion do not meet nan council's requirements and location was nary replacement but to customize nan software.

In 2021, Oracle laminitis and CTO Larry Ellison said Birmingham City Council was 1 of a number of successful wins to migrate very ample SAP ERP customers to Oracle Fusion. ®