UNIT4 Agresso confirms strategy and goes head to head with SAP and Oracle

14th March 2013

The news earlier this month that UNIT4’s Agresso application is to form the backbone of the first Independent Shared Service Centre to be operated by the private sector on behalf of the UK Central Government is set to send ripples through the multi-billion pound shared services market.  The multi-year deal, which was for an undisclosed sum (thought to be in the £10’s of millions) lays down the gauntlet to SAP and Oracle who have previously dominated the central government space. 




Speaking to FSN at the UNIT4’s 2013 UK Customer Conference yesterday, Anwen Robinson, Managing Director of UNIT4 Business Software said, “Our willingness to be flexible and reasonable in licensing arrangement differentiated us from the competition’s rigid approach and will save Central Government many millions of pounds over the term of the contract compared to SAP.”

UNIT4 Agresso proved its capability against so called Tier 1 competitors as early as June 2011 when it was awarded  a £2.5 million contract in software and services with nuclear power specialist Magnox Ltd to replace its SAP system.  Magnox Ltd operates 10 of the UK’s first generation of nuclear power stations on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.  This deal is also believed to have saved costs in the realms of 10’s of millions.

But Anwen Robinson told FSN that the latest win with central government and increasingly in other deals against SAP and Oracle also illustrates a different kind of flexibility, namely; that Agresso’s unique architecture very ably supports businesses going through change.

“Our message is resonating very well with the market. Businesses are fed up of paying millions of pounds for upgrading their ERP systems and all of the consultancy that goes with it. With our system they can invest safe in the knowledge that the system will grow with them.  This is born out by the Department Of Transport project which will initially be based on simplified ‘templated’ business processes but which will be amenable to change at a later date through configuration of the application – not customization.”

“The market is beginning to appreciate that they are getting Tier 1 capability at Tier 2 prices,” she added.

“Like many organizations we are always looking to drive greater efficiency, boost performance and make cost savings through our choice and use of technology,” said Andrew Taylor, Head of Project Delivery for Magnox. “We were feeling increasingly limited by our existing system as we could not make the changes required at the speed of change we were experiencing. Agresso Business World’s architectural design makes it simple to respond to business change in the post-implementation phase, without spending or relying on external consultants.”

The Department of Transport bid was led by arvato UK & Ireland, a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner.  Under the 7 year agreement agreement (which includes a three year optional extension), the existing Department for Transport (DfT) Shared Service Centre in Swansea, South Wales, has been acquired by arvato, which will subsequently provide back office services to the DfT and its executive agencies, such as DVLA.

The deal also compelling illustrates the success, under Anwen Robinson’s leadership, of UNIT4’s strategy of partnering with other organizations and comes on top of successful partnering with BT and IBM.  Robinson used the 2013 UK Customer Conference to confirm HP as its latest partnership deal.