“Move from a resource and time heavy, manual based testing approach to an automated approach”
Expleo Technology UK has beaten 12 other vendors to a job testing IT systems at the Royal Mint, as a fully managed service
The services and consultancy firm has been tasked with automating testing of the Royal Mint’s “digital platforms”, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
“[We] were looking for a testing partner to enable the Royal Mint to move from a resource and time heavy, manual based testing approach to an automated and consistent approach” the Royal Mint said.
The contract is worth £690,000. It was not immediately clear over what period. Other bids came in at up to £2.3 million, a contract notice shows.
The Royal Mint is the creator of the UK’s currency and one of the world’s largest exporters of coinage. In 2018-2019 it despatched 3.3 billion pieces to 31 countries.
The testing will span browser-based applications, systems interfaces and mobile applications. (Many legacy ERP and CRM systems have thousands of lines of custom code and bespoke tools built in: untangling them can prove hugely complex).
Expleo Technology UK, formerly SQS Software Quality Systems AG, is an end-to-end engineering and management consultancy. It employs circa 15,000 workers and operates in 30 countries, across sectors from financial services to aerospace.
The contract comes as the Royal Mint is engaging on a path of digital reinvention, albeit one with a very modest budget. As Chairman Graham Love noted in its annual report: “Capital expenditure of £5.0 million reflected our continued investment in the future.
“It included the refurbishment and replacement of Currency and Consumer equipment, continued investment in our IT systems, to build a better experience for our customers, and robust platforms for our new businesses.”
The Royal Mint declined to comment further on its needs.
Three-Year Plan and Worlds Most Secure Coin
In 2019, the Royal Mint launched a three-year plan that is looking to draw on its vast portfolio of ‘complementary businesses’ in order to grow internationally and expand into new sectors. That plan acknowledges that physical cash use is in decline, but is still widely used, often by the most vulnerable in society.
As it is trying to balance a reinvention of the mint with its historical cash duties.
In its annual report the Royal Mint notes that: “As part of our reinvention vision we have encouraged innovation at all levels of the organisation; the benefits of this are seen every day through our employee-generated ideas, improvements and problem-solving activities. Many of these have driven both instant and incremental improvements in our day-to-day operational effectiveness, efficiency and commercial successes.”
In 2017 the Mint launched its newly designed one pound coin. This 12-sided coin – at the time of mint – is one of the world’s most advanced and secure coins in production. It has security features such as micro-lettering, is bi-metallic and holds a latent image that acts as a hologram.
Chief Engraver, Gordon Summers commented on its release that: “Some of the visible security features, such as the micro-lettering and a latent feature, can only be achieved through computer-aided design technology which wasn’t available when the pound coin was introduced in 1983”
One secret security feature that has only been speculated on is the application of luminescent particles via an electro-plating process. These would make the particles part of the alloy and incredibly hard to reproduce.