Case Study: Local authorities eye savings from sharing single UNIT4 Agresso platform.
An ERP system shared by two West Suffolk councils went live today as the authorities look to cut costs by sharing resources.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council have saved £3.5m over the last two years by using the same management, staff, offices and terms and conditions.
And now the bodies are sharing the same ERP system, software provider UNIT4’s Agresso platform, designed specifically for local government, to streamline their finance and procurement processes.
The councils picked the tool after a "rigorous" selection process, implementing it through UNIT4 partner Methods Enterprise.
By giving staff access to the platform’s finance and procurement self-service tools, the councils hope to cut administration costs and boost collaboration between departments.
Councillors responsible for resources for both councils, Cllr David Ray and Cllr Stephen Edwards, said in a joint statement: "In a time of public sector funding cuts, technology offers opportunities not just to make savings, but to do things more efficiently.
"Agresso is one of our key corporate systems allowing us to drive shared services and align processes and procedures. We know that continuing change is likely to challenge us with things we haven’t thought of, so having control and ownership of our platforms is going to be critical."
Meanwhile, the flexibility of Agresso allows internal staff to configure it if they wish to customise the platform for a lower total cost of ownership, UNIT4 claimed.
This could help the councils’ future aim of sharing services with other authorities in the area looking to cut their back-office expenses.
It is not clear how much the councils expect to save from deploying the shared platform.
UNIT4 MD Anwen Robinson said: "We are delighted to be partnering with the team from West Suffolk and Methods Enterprise.
"[Agresso] enables organisations to quickly scale operations while also reducing the cost of change."
Shared services is being used by many local authorities and public bodies as a way to cut costs, typically in back-office IT, and Hampshire County Council CIO Jos Creese recently told CBR there is an added benefit in making local services more joined up, as they are standardised on one system.
All 33 London councils connected to the London Public Services Network in May, aiming to save millions of pounds between them.