─ Sarah Stevenson, Business Services Centre Group Manager, Nottinghamshire County Council
Since the financial crisis of 2008, Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) has worked diligently to reduce SAP expenditures and ensure community members continue to maintain broad access to essential public services. Following its initial response to optimize SAP spend – Business Services Centre budgets have been reduced by 56% and headcount by 66% – the Council has continued to adopt ambitious cost-saving goals. Sarah Stevenson, Business Services Centre Group Manager, elaborated, “The significant pressure to drive cost reductions in the SAP budget and at the same time continue to maintain all our essential services, means we are always looking for ways to innovate.”
Embracing the endeavor to find opportunities to further optimize spend, NCC identified a significantly more cost-efficient strategy for managing its SAP applications. The new approach of switching to independent, third-party software support for the legacy ERP platform has enabled the Council to streamline operations across its nine county offices and numerous satellite locations. It also has helped fund critical community-focused programs, such as achieving 100% broadband coverage and offering natural disaster relief grants.
To streamline workflows and simplify access to critical business information, NCC is planning to rebuild its architecture and migrate SAP applications off-site to a Microsoft Azure cloud environment. With access to vendor-agnostic IT support services, the Council can fully leverage the expertise of its implementation partner, CGI, to ensure SAP infrastructure changes are optimally performed and driven by the business priority of helping employees complete job responsibilities more efficiently.
The Council also has minimized the resources required to ensure core business systems conform to the latest regulatory standards. Rather than relying on the application vendor’s laborious and expensive upgrade schedule to receive mandatory updates, the revised strategy focuses on assessing the unique requirements of the NCC environment and only implementing changes when specifically required to remain compliant.
Leveraging the expertise of the independent software support provider’s engineers to identify, scope, and package the necessary patches, NCC no longer needs to pay employees overtime to take the ERP system offline and perform vendor-dictated upgrades outside of normal business hours. This one change alone has resulted in savings of more than GBP£ 100k (USD$ 125k+) per year.
Operations in the accounts payable (AP) department have been optimized as part of NCC’s cost restructuring efforts. Since automating time-consuming manual processes and adopting digital services, the Council has achieved a 96% completion rate for paying supplier invoices, despite having reduced AP staffing from 20 people to seven over the last ten years.
The local authority has carefully implemented changes to simplify the complex task of meeting payment schedules for 35,000+ pensioners and 7,000 staff overall. To ensure the budget rationalization is sustainable, NCC works closely with its third-party support provider to optimally maintain the SAP platform.
When the council relied on SAP for maintenance services, the organization paid nearly twice as much in fees only to receive a lower quality of support. For example, the absence of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) from SAP when raising support tickets meant that NCC’s BSC Competency Centre and IT teams often had to chase the application vendor for responses. Considering the significant cost of the service, dissatisfaction with the value and quality of the software vendor’s delivery was at a significant level: change was needed.
In contrast, partnering with Rimini Street for independent software support services has ensured that the needs of the 5,000+ users that rely on the ERP platform to administer hundreds of social programs for the county are consistently being met. NCC regularly receives advice on the potential impact of changes to its core SAP applications from Rimini Street, as well as full-service support identifying and running necessary patching updates. Rimini Street is also a key collaborator in the Council’s cloud migration efforts.
Stevenson enthused, “Rimini Street has been an incredibly reliable and trusted partner, giving confidence that our core SAP applications are stable and enabling us to concentrate on supporting our frontline colleagues.”
She continued, “Rimini Street has repeatedly demonstrated how much it understands the importance of quality customer service. The partnership helps achieve significant savings while also giving us more time and flexibility to plan for the future without pressure to follow a vendor-led upgrade path.”
A 15-year service guarantee with Rimini Street gives NCC the assurance that even as further enhancements and customizations are made to the SAP deployment, the essential business application will be maintained without disruption to any critical public programs. With this long-term strategy for sustaining mission-critical operations and essential public services in place, NCC has the flexibility to prioritize community needs in its ongoing effort to modernize infrastructure and further optimize investments.
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