Cloud paradigm

Certus Solutions has its heritage in the public sector. The small and medium-sized company specialises in delivering Oracle Cloud human capital management (HCM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, and has a series of central government customers, including the Ministry of Justice, National Offender Management Services and Civil Service Human Resources.

It is now working on groundbreaking Whitehall implementations of Oracle ERP and HCM Cloud applications at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and HM Treasury, with the ONS project having successfully just gone live.

The project sponsor, ONS financial director Paul Layland, is driving a major change programme to bring corporate financial services in the organisation into the digital age by 2017.

A key goal for Mr Layland was to integrate workforce planning into the ONS’s systems. But he knew his legacy ERP system was incapable of handling any new demands.

The ONS Oracle Cloud project offered an unmissable opportunity to bring the department’s financial and HR systems up to date, and deliver the management information necessary to make smarter, more informed decisions.

We knew Certus would pull out all the stops for us

“Our system was old, unsupported and not fit for purpose. Oracle Cloud, coupled with new data analytics systems like Tableau and Alteryx, gives us better statistics and better statistics make for a better business,” he says.

The Certus partnership has been a strong one, says Mr Layland. “We engaged Certus through G-Cloud late in 2015 and started working with them in January, with the target of going live in October,” he says. “They just gave us confidence. They understood central government and departments, and from day one it was a natural fit. And our confidence has grown. We knew Certus would pull out all the stops for us.”

Since the summer, Mr Layland has been discussing the project with other government departments that now have a significant reference point for the challenges faced in implementing Oracle Cloud technology.

He concedes: “It was risky for us to be the first government department to implement a cloud-based system. But there’s huge potential, not least for our relationship with the Treasury. In the first year of the Spending Review, it is so important to have the right data and gain the confidence of your key stakeholders behind you, especially the Treasury.”

The project’s success has given ONS tightly integrated, clear visibility of both its operations and financial management.

“We have 3,200 full-time employees with 900 of them in the field,” says Mr Layland. “Our goal is to track positions, understand the purpose of the role, what skills and capabilities the role needs, and where it sits in the organisation. We can move people around more easily and create more development opportunities for our staff. In the second phase, which Certus is supporting us on, we plan to train budget holders, empowering them to prepare and own their budgets and managing their people with access to real-time data.”

As well as its ONS engagement, Certus is now working on a cloud-based Oracle ERP and HCM implementation at the Treasury, which is due to go live next April.

With Whitehall’s small to medium-sized departments still under financial pressure, Certus founder and chief executive Mark Sweeny believes cloud applications offer a paradigm shift for back-office services, just as shared services did for the Prison Service over a decade earlier on the back of the Gershon Efficiency Review.

“This technology provides Whitehall with an inflection point to consider how this new paradigm can deliver significant cost-savings, not only through the provision of real-time information on its finances and workforce, but also through the removal of costly on-premise legacy systems. The technology is proven – it’s now a case of ‘when’ and no longer ‘if’ Whitehall departments move to adopt cloud,” Mr Sweeny concludes.

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