UK Councils Set Benchmark for Public Sector Shared Services in the Cloud

  • Stockton & Darlington Borough Councils announce major milestone completed with 10 Academy schools live in less than six months
  • Schools and councils see potential for cost savings and operational efficiency
  • Underpinned by UNIT4's flexible Shared Journey cloud shared services platform

SLIEDRECHT, The Netherlands, Jan. 9, 2012 /CNW/ - UNIT4, the world's leading provider of business software for Businesses Living IN Change (BLINC™), today announced the shared services joint venture between Stockton & Darlington Borough Councils in the UK (known as Xentrall) has successfully reached a major milestone and implemented cloud shared services using Shared Journey from UNIT4 for finance and accounting in ten Academy schools in just six months.

The service, which originally focussed on Academies in the area, is also starting to garner interest from other public sector organizations and schools outside its geography that are looking to reduce costs and improve service delivery.

Using Shared Journey Xentrall offers schools affordable subscription-based Finance, HR & Payroll transactional shared services that includes shared technical IT and operational support services. Xentrall first discussed its cloud shared services initiative in April 2011, and by the beginning of November this year 13 schools had signed up to the services with ten of them already live. The Academies are already benefiting from the rich functionality and flexibility of Agresso Business World in the cloud, delivering the control and visibility of resources they need to create exceptional educational facilities.

The Academies Programme lets UK schools opt to receive funding directly from central government to independently manage their own affairs rather than relying on local authority services and national curriculum guidelines. Like other public sector organizations they need to find suppliers that can help them lower costs and increase performance. Xentrall's services, underpinned by Shared Journey, are proving to be a popular choice amongst schools looking to deliver against this objective. Word of mouth on the expected benefits of the service has led other public sector organizations, including councils, to invite Xentrall to bid to supply their back-office transactional systems also.

"We have been very pleased by the uptake of the services so far and hope that we will come to be seen as a benchmark for other public sector organizations setting up shared services in the cloud," said Ian Coxon, Head of Transactional Services at Xentrall. "It demonstrates that in the new economy there is appetite for innovative operating models and technologies. UNIT4's Shared Journey is at the forefront, combining two of the pillars that the government is heralding as central to efficiency - shared-services and the cloud. We have been told that this, along with Xentrall's shared-services heritage and not-for-profit status, makes the services attractive to public sector organizations looking to adapt to funding challenges."

As Shared Journey is cloud based it allows Xentrall to rapidly scale to meet demand while the Academies only pay for what they use. There is no capital outlay and no redundant capacity and the flexibility of Agresso means that the cost of tailoring the solution to each Academy's specific needs remains low.

"We are receiving enquiries from other public sector organizations that are concerned about the extra cost of maintaining their 'big-brand' ERP shared services," said Ton Dobbe, VP Product at UNIT4. "Organizations have spent too long re-engineering themselves to fit their legacy ERP and we know many are concerned about the forced upgrade path of some ERP vendors because it is such a major financial commitment both now and in the long term. There are alternatives and we are having many more conversations with prospects about cloud computing because it can help provide the required flexibility and efficiencies the public sector craves."

About UNIT4

UNIT4 is a global business software and services company aimed at helping dynamic public sector, and commercial services organizations to embrace change simply, quickly and cost effectively in a market sector it calls 'Businesses Living IN Change' (BLINC)™. The Group incorporates a number of the world's leading change embracing software brands including Agresso Business World, our flagship ERP suite for mid-sized services intensive organizations and Coda, our best-of-class financial management software.

With operations in 17 European countries, as well as 7 countries across North America, Asia Pacific and Africa and sales activities in several other countries, its revenue was €421.7 million in 2010. UNIT4 is headquartered in Sliedrecht, the Netherlands and has over 4,000 employees. It is listed on Euronext Amsterdam and is included in the Amsterdam Midcap Index (AMX).

SOURCE UNIT4

For further information:

For more information on UNIT4 or any of its operating companies, please visit the website at http://www.unit4.com, follow us on Twitter @UNIT4_Group or contact:

Emma Keates
Group PR Manager, UNIT4
+44(0)1423-537977
Emma.keates@unit4.com

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