Waikato Regional Council reboots ERP

Published on the 05/12/2023 | Written by Heather Wright

Waikato Regional Council reboots ERP

Infor deliver after delays and cost blowout…

Waikato Regional Council has completed its Project Reboot to replace ’a tangled web’ of 28 disparate on-premise software systems with Infor’s CloudSuite Public Sector with the council seeing some early wins and is looking for more after project delays and a cost blowout.

The multi-year, multi-phase transformation program included new modules for financial management and budgeting, planning, human resources, property and rates, among others.

“We have always talked about the project as getting us to the line of up-to-date technology that we can then take forward.”

Launched in May 2019, it was due to be completed in mid-2021, at a cost of $10.5 million. During a public excluded session in July 2021, Waikato regional councillors voted to increase Project Reboot’s implementation budget by nearly $5.5 million to a total revised budget of nearly $17 million.

By August 2023, the project, still being completed, had an estimated completion cost of nearly $29 million and the payroll solution replacement had been removed from the original Reboot project.

In 2021, the then chair of the Waikato Regional Council, Russ Rimmington, said the councillors had engaged ‘some of the best international consultants’ and ‘accepted’ it was going to cost more to ensure the WRC had a ‘robust’ software system that could stand up to cybersecurity risks and provide a solution that would deliver on business requirements.

“The extra year it’s going to take to complete this project has resulted in the retention of fixed term project resourcing and backfill for staff seconded to the project for an extended period,” Rimmington said at the time, noting too that Covid had also impacted the project, which at the time was expected to be completed in November 2022.

A year on from the revised completion date, Janine Becker, Waikato Regional Council director of finance and business services says the council is seeing ‘some early wins’ from the project phases that have been progressively implemented since September 2020.

“While a change of the scale delivered will take some time to bed into the organisation, it has allowed us to address some key business risks and will provide a technology platform and business processes that our council will continue to use and optimise over time,” Becker says.

In September, she told the WRC risk and assurance committee meeting that a lot of work was still going into resolving issues as they arose through regular business processes.

“With the project due to close 31 October, the focus is really shifting from that transition of support from the project team to WRC staff – the business owners, subject matter experts, as well as the managed services arrangement we have in place with Infor around WRC specific parts of the solution.”

While the core solution is covered under a software-as-a-service agreement, some specific extensions for WRC are being handled through additional managed services provided by Infor.

“We are giving consideration to support may be required post project closure through to the end of the calendar year to ensure rather than hard stop we have a softer landing for the organisation around some of those support structures and knowledge.”

Becker told the meeting that key road map items had been identified to optimise the use of the solution.

“We have always talked about the project as getting us to the line of up-to-date technology that we can then take forward.”

The multi-tenant cloud nature of the offering ensured the council would be forced to think about ‘go forward’ because it ‘will move forward whether we want it to or not’.

WRC was working closely with Infor around both its own plans for the future and the Infor roadmap for CloudSuite Public Sector.

“We have held a reasonably – at times it hasn’t felt like it – but a reasonably privileged position with Infor in terms of the relationship we have had and the ability in their product development cycle to influence some of those things, so I’m keen that we continue to hold that type of relationship with them moving forward,” she told the committee.

“That is the dialogue we are actively involved in – a little bit of WRC, where do we go forward but equally where are those conversations from an Infor product development heading as well and how can we get engaged with those to make sure we maximise the return from the investment made.”

Last week she said Infor had brought WRC ‘into the tent’ involving the council in product development cycles.

“The ability and opportunity to influence future solutions is a big bonus for our innovation program now and in the years to come,” Becker says.

Infor has found itself mired in controversy in New Zealand in recent weeks, with its win of a $107.5 million software contract for a public infrastructure restructuring program for centralising water supply and sanitation management across New Zealand questioned by Gentrack chief executive Gary Miles.

Miles has called on the government to investigate the closed tender which saw Infor, which is used by Auckland water and wastewater manager Watercare, win the contract.

The new National-led government has said it will introduce legislation to repeal the Water Services Entities Act 2022 as part of its first 100-days plan.

Northland Regional Council has also been rolling out Infor for its ERP. Earlier this year council reports showed more than $402,000 in additional operational costs had been incurred, with the project timeline also affected.

The first stage of the project had gone live, reportedly on time and on budget, in 2022.

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