IT IS PROBABLY one of the largest IT outsourcing contracts in the world – but when it comes up for renewal in a few years’ time, it will be very different, according to Mark Hall, the outgoing CIO at HMRC.
“The Aspire contract was a child of its time, but the market is moving very quickly,” Hall tells Accountancy Age's sister title Computing – not only as a result of the consolidation of hardware and the taxation platforms, and the digitisation programmes that are changing the face of the HMRC’s IT estate, but also externally, with the increasing popularity of cloud computing and infrastructure- and software-as-a-service.
“We’re now looking to transition to a new model that we call ‘systems and service integrator’ or SSI,” says Hall. It is based on models used elsewhere in business called SIAM – Service Integration and Management – or the ‘multi-sourcing model’, by analyst group Gartner.
“As we start to move towards 2017 and the point where there will be a re-procurement of a number of different facilities and services, Capgemini is putting in place a new set of arrangements around SSI,” he adds.
Instead of expecting one service company to monolithically manage and run the IT estate – albeit with several specialist sub-contractors working within that contract – it will break the IT down into a service integration element and the actual services.
While Capgemini is very much angling to make sure that it continues to manage the service integration element, any number of companies and systems from independent suppliers could slot into it.
“For me, this does two things to enable that multi-sourcing strategy. First, it enables new partners – SMEs or large organisations – to gain entry into our IT estate in a safe and controlled way. The system integration part of the SSI provides a number of different facilities and services to help people understand how to go about integrating new systems and services,” says Craig Mills, Capgemini programme manager for the SSI programme at HMRC.
"The second part of the enabling is the service integration... the service integrator orchestrates all the different ‘towers', partners and suppliers so that the components of IT they provide will come together to provide a fully cohesive and complete end-to-end business service," he adds.
"For the systems integration part, it's understanding what are the specific characteristics that are going to be needed for any operational sourcing exercise, how it's going to work, how it will fit it and what it is that the business wants to do," continues Mills.
Hall has already been put in place a "change framework" to make sure that all work goes through the same investment framework. When the procurement team at HMRC has selected a supplier to do a particular piece of work, "then Capgemini works with them to take the role of the IT delivery lead to make sure the supplier is supported to bring these services and products efficiently into the IT estate," says Mills.
"So there's a lot of complexity around the service transition and all the processes that are part of the initial entry of systems into the IT estate," he says.
The benefit to HMRC of this shift in approach, says Hall, is that it means that the organisation can more easily go out into the marketplace to get projects and work procured, getting the best deal from the supplier, with the assurance that the "integration partner" will ensure all the elements come together smoothly.
"Over time we will move from a ‘prime and sub' type model to a ‘client-side integrator model', and then competing in terms of ‘towers of service' or individual projects, but working with that intermediary to help us to pull it together," says Hall.
In other words, the future of HMRC's IT systems looks a lot like an internal cloud (or clouds).
"Our future model will be a multi-sourced model, which will have an integration partner who works on the client side to help us pull things together. And then a new eco-system of suppliers with different contract durations and scopes, with the expectation that a fair amount of work will be completed on a regular basis," says Hall.
The result, he says, ought to be a more dynamic system that is more able to keep up with a changing market.
But, warns, Mills, such a model also introduces extra complexity. "One of the consequences of it is that as you start to put the components together, it does breed additional complexity. The SSI is helpful in managing that complexity; to make it simple for both end users and HMRC as a business to be able to consume services in more innovative ways.
"If you start to move towards more cloud and more components that live in clouds, either as platform-as-a-service or software-as-a-service, there are more and more components that have to be assembled," says Mills.
As a taxpayer I would like to see the words cost saving, simplification and with the history of Government IT projects to look back on, budgetary control. It would appear from the above article that in the name of progress the most complicated of plans with it's inevitable problems is proposed, presumably so Cap Gemini doesn't lose any main tendering process since they will have designed the system, nice one!
Posted by: J Davies FCA, 13 Aug 2013 | 10:48
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