Coventry City Council provides a wide range of services to over 320,000 citizens, aiming to improve the city as a place to live, work and play. In the wake of the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review and the subsequent funding cuts to the sector that will last for the foreseeable future, council leaders began an organisational transformation programme – ‘ABC’ (A Better Council for a bolder Coventry). ABC (which would be succeeded by the ‘Kick-Start’ programme) would review everything the council did to improve efficiency and services provided to taxpayers.
As part of ABC, Coventry’s finance department launched ‘Money Matters’, a programme which would analyse all end-to-end finance processes to identify areas of improvement both in the department and for senior managers and budget holders across the council.
Because of the way it had been configured, it quickly became apparent that the council’s existing Oracle finance system would not have the flexibility to accommodate the improvements recommended by the Money Matters team without significant investment in external expertise or re-implementation.
With the thrust of the wider transformation centered upon business change, the view was that Coventry City Council required a new finance solution capable of adapting quickly and painlessly to reorganisations.
“We needed a new finance system,” said Barry Hastie, Assistant Director: Financial Management, Revenues and Benefits at Coventry City Council. “The incumbent was heavily customised and as a result so inflexible we couldn’t even upgrade it, let alone align it to the new ways of working suggested by Money Matters.”
“We chose the UNIT4 Local Government ERP Platform to replace Oracle because it had the best fit for our procurement criteria,” said Joe Sansom, Transformation Programme Delivery Manager at Coventry City Council. “Crucially its configurable architecture would provide the flexibility we needed to adapt to change now and in the future.”
Interfacing into 24 other systems, Agresso is central to change at the council. Senior managers, budget holders and project managers are now empowered with a range of tools to drive through the efficiencies required by ABC and Money Matters.
- As part of the wider Money Matters programme Agresso has facilitated and underpinned £3.075M in savings to-date.
- There is a culture of greater awareness and consistency for finances. With real-time visibility decision makers can make change happen, collaborating with others as-and-when required. Also, despite a radically new way of working, workflow that supports good sector practice means that employees observe more consistent and robust finance practices.
- There is no dependency on UNIT4. The council has been live six months, despite tremendous change during that time it has not had to spend a single penny on consulting, any configurations are managed in-house. This is a big departure from Oracle, which required around £120,000 a year on consultancy costs just to keep it up and running.
- Change is no longer feared “Speaking to a corporate manager in the finance team they mentioned the desire to move end of year reporting from June in 2014, to May in 2015,” said Sansom. “With the old system we know that would have provoked organisation-wide anxiety, now however we feel confident we can manage the change ourselves in house.”