The emergent strategy for one of the final elements of the NSW Government’s ICT procurement platform was revealed with the release of its Request for Information (RFI) for Enterprise Software Solutions on Thursday 26 November.
Reforms to ICT procurement over the last two years or so have seen new arrangements in place for:
- Telecommunications equipment and services (the GTA suite of contracts);
- IT Services (contract 2020), certain categories of hardware (desktops and laptops in particular); and
- Updated Government Selected Application System (GSAS) contracts for enterprise resource planning and document management systems.
In a major departure from the previous heavily vendor-based approach to software procurement, the RFI is looking for innovative suggestions on delivery and acquisition models for the provision of common enterprise software applications and solutions. In line with the major focus the NSW Government has of reducing costs, a major aim of the RFI is to identify ways to reduce licensing costs and total cost of ownership for the provision and management of enterprise software solutions.
With a due date of 23 December 2009, the RFI represents a significant opportunity for providers of software solutions to influence direction before the final strategy is determined. The RFI indicates that the further process ‘may involve a more focused EOI phase and/or tender and the Board reserves the right, in its absolute discretion, to adopt any procurement strategy following the evaluation of the RFI responses’.
‘Industry is encouraged to respond to this RFI to ensure their views are considered in the development of future procurement strategies, including vendors able to offer open source solutions or software as a service,’ the RFI states.
‘This approach is a sound one … It’s the sensible tech-wise approach which is likely to yield them some sensible answers, Kevin Noonan, Head of Consulting at Intermedium told Computerworld.
According to the RFI, the approach will provide agencies with alternative acquisition models such as vendor bundles, software as a service (SaaS), open source, subscription or purchase/support that allow the choice of best fit for individual agency’s needs [and] enable transition to software as a service and related cloud based services.
If these directions (Open Source and SaaS in particular) are embraced by NSW Government as a result of this procurement process, it will put NSW at the vanguard of the adoption of these approaches. "The inclusion of Open Source and SaaS as software sourcing methods is both a reflection of the maturity of these two approaches as well as a way to drive down traditional on-premise software providers’, Noonan said to Computerworld.
Intermedium estimates that on the basis of a full three stage approach, the procurement process and strategy determination is likely to take up a significant amount of next calendar year. Implementations of solutions based on the eventual procurement process are therefore unlikely to be in place until the 2011-12 financial year, given budget approval and other processes now required for ICT acquisitions of any size, and particularly those involving CapEx.
As this RFI is an attempt to gain significant input to future strategy, it is no doubt too early to consider the relationship between the IT Services Panel Contract 2020 and the future Enterprise Software Solutions arrangement. Also no doubt a consideration for a future point in time will be the relationship between any future enterprise software procurement arrangement and the GSAS framework.