Application service providers (ASPs) are rubbing their hands at the prospect of the Government's Best Value regime that comes into full force in public sector IT in April. The momentum, for council IT departments to outsource complex applications in order to achieve "best value", will become unstoppable, say the ASPs.
But IT chiefs would do well to approach the ASP model with caution. IT in local government - and especially outsourcing contracts - has a chequered history, especially when subject to mandates from central government. Even technically sound solutions can fail because the scope and intent of projects creeps away from the original specification.
And, as ERP users in the private sector regularly testify, the main cause of failure with these complex integration packages is when the technology does not fit the corporate culture.
The intent behind the new spending regime is to add a human dimension to the cost-benefit analysis. It is supposed to be a move away from "cheapest is best" solutions.
In short, apps-on-tap may be cheaper, but they may not be "best value".