NSW's Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) is preparing to start the mammoth transition of its SAP-based ERP back end into the cloud, and is on the hunt for a provider willing to host the solution from within one of the Government's own data centres.
FACS chief information officer Tim Hume explained to iTnews that the forthcoming National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) reforms - which will see a lot of community services work transferred to non-government parties - has underlined the need for the agency to be flexible.
“We are undergoing a lot of change and there is more to come," Hume said.
"There’s a big shift within our department with the introduction of the NDIS. This means we need to change the shape and nature of how we interact with our clients and that means our corporate shared services function will need to change as well.”
The FACS back office is currently based on SAP ECC v.6. Hume explained "the existing SAP environment no longer reflects our business structure and an as a service solution seems an expedient choice as it allows us to scale as required”.
FACS is seeking a “one-stop-shop provider” who can supply SAP modules in the cloud as part of the department’s reform agenda that will see it roll several previously disparate businesses - including shared services provider Businesslink - under the one umbrella.
It commenced discussions with interested vendors yesterday, Hume said.
“We walked the interested parties through the RFI and it was good to see a lot of interest. Our ideal is to identify a one-stop-shop that provides a broad range of SAP services so it may be that industry comes to us as a consortium.”
The primary supplier or consortium will be asked to cover off all of the department's SAP needs, and its preference is for the solution to be hosted out of one of the NSW Government's 'GovDC' data centre facilities in Silverwater and Unanderra.
“We have a firm preference for the solution to be run out of GovDC. After all, SAP as a service is relatively new and we want a world-class solution. We believe GovDC provides that," said Hume.
It will not be the first NSW agency to move its SAP systems into the cloud. Stable mates at the Department of Trade and Investment has already taken up the opportunity to consolidate a mixed bag of SAP instances into a hosted SAP ByDesign solution.
The majority of FACS’ systems are currently located in two data centres – a primary facility at Global Switch in Ultimo, and a secondary facility at Fujitsu in Homebush Bay. A project is underway to transition systems from the Fujitsu site to the new Silverwater Government Data Centre by the end of next year, with Global Switch migration scheduled for 2018.
The FACS move will no doubt please the NSW Government's central IT gurus and ministers, who have been advocating for agency cloud adoption.
The Government is also making efforts to boost competition in the ERP sector by releasing its internal ERP standards under licence.
Hume welcomed the reforms.
“We at FACS think competition is healthy, we believe we will get a better product out the other end and that can only benefit all parties,” concluded Hume.
“I’m a believer in developing a partnership with industry as I don’t believe we can do everything ourselves. It was never the Government’s intent to ration access to the information and opening it up provides great value to the vendors and to Government.”
The request for information closes on 22 September, from which FACS will determine a preliminary list of potential suppliers who will be invited to take part in a closed procurement process.
It hopes the new solution will be live by February/March 2016.