Government warns Whitehall departments that IT disaggregation projects could take four years

Written by Sam Trendall on 13 November 2017 in News
News

Document from Government Commercial Function offers advice on how to best to decouple from monolithic contracts

The Government Commercial Function has warned Whitehall departments that the process of disaggregating large IT contracts could take up to four years and may be more complicated than they are prepared for.

The government has published a document offering advice to departments on how to plan for and execute the process of exiting a large, single-supplier IT contract and break it up into smaller chunks with a greater number of providers. The advice is targeted at departments with engagements covering an annual spend in excess of £20m.

“Disaggregation is complex,” the government said. “In reality, it typically takes longer than anticipated – up to four years – is resource-intensive, and needs to be well planned.”
In undertaking a disaggregation project, departments should make sure they do five things, the document said.


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First, they must ensure their engagement with the market is in line with government guidelines and that such engagement “is used to inform the packaging of the services [to make sure they] are attractive to the market”. This must be done before a procurement and provision strategy is decided upon, the government said.

Departments are also counselled to pay heed to government advice in “setting up the disaggregation work as a business-transformation programme”, ensuring that their commercial director is heavily involved in this process.

It is also imperative to understand “the risk to the systems integrator” involved in the large IT contract, and ensure that they have adequate resources to make disaggregation a reality, the government said.

Departments should also have a stage-by-stage plan that covers the duration of what may be a lengthy transition, the document advised.

The final instruction is to ascertain what workforce skills will be needed in the future to make a success of the disaggregated model of IT provision.

“[These] are very likely to be different from the ones organisations have needed previously, and may be absent from the current organisation,” the government said.

New skills that may need to be recruited could include service-management and integration.

Earlier this year, the Crown Commercial Service said that the ongoing disaggregation drive across Whitehall is set to reach an “inflection point” in the next couple of years, with £3bn to £4bn of contracts set to reach their end and go back out to market.

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology, where a version of this story first appeared

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