Mat Hayward - stock.adobe.com
Thames Valley Police (TVP) has spent £14.4m developing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that it no longer plans to use.
The money was spent between 2016 and late 2020 as part of TVP’s Equip programme, an ERP procurement and implementation partnership with Sussex and Surrey Police, both of which have bought the software and could still use it.
Between the three police forces, the Equip programme has cost a total of £36.6m so far, and was set up to improve back-office systems.
According to a job advert posted by TVP for a project support officer for the programme, the IT system would deal with human resources, finance and payroll, recruitment, and duties management.
“This is a large-scale, business-critical programme covering six counties in England, with scope for a further 32 public sector organisations to procure the same selected solution over the course of the contract period,” the advert said. “A new single-instance ERP is undoubtedly a key enabler to driving efficiencies within the back office as well as delivering significant operational benefits to front-line policing.”
A framework agreement, which sets out the terms for subsequent contracts or agreements, published by Surrey Police, shows that the potential lifetime value of the Equip project was £120m. The framework was exclusively awarded to accountancy firm KMPG, which was the only supplier allowed to bid on any opportunities put out via the agreement.
TVP’s annual accounts for 2020-2021 said the force had been working with KPMG on the programme since 2016, and had spent £8.3m up to 2020 and a further £6.1m during 2020, bringing the total to £14.4m.
The force’s former police and crime commissioner (PCC) Anthony Stansfeld said in September 2020 that its internal costs were “very considerable” and that he was “totally dissatisfied” with Equip’s progress.
In its accounts document, TVP added that, in December 2020, “the chief constables agreed that the ERP product developed by KPMG should be transferred to the three forces to mitigate against future financial risk”.
Although TVP did not comment on the nature of the risk presented by keeping the system with KPMG, a joint statement issued to Computer Weekly from all three forces said that “approval was granted by the then three PCCs to transfer the ERP software, documentation and licensed assets” from KPMG.
It added: “Following closure of the tri-force Equip programme, a new Surrey and Sussex ERP programme has been set up to look at future ERP work. In Surrey Police and Sussex Police, the respective chief constables and PCCs are considering a range of options for use, development of Equip assets and/or additional ERP solutions for enhanced functionality.
“In Thames Valley, the chief constable and PCC are considering options for an ERP system through the Next Steps programme, and appropriate funding was included in the Medium Term Financial Plan (2021/22 to 2024/25) to finance new activities, but the plan is to discontinue any further development of the Equip system as transferred.”
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