Winz e-procurement winds down; but lessons learned say vendors

Work and Income NZ now says it never intended to proceed to a full e-procurement project on its own behalf and is fully behind the whole-of-government project.

Work and Income NZ now says it never intended to proceed to a full e-procurement project on its own behalf and is fully behind the whole-of-government project.

Winz spokeswoman Nikki Douglas, quoting Winz e-procurement specialist Ted Dean, confirmed earlier this month that Winz is “participating in the whole of government e-procurement project”, and that the function of its two pilot e-procurement projects was to “provide some valuable lessons in how DWI can enhance its current online purchasing procedures”.

When the department first put forward a plan to conduct e-procurement pilot projects, about six months ago, “there was a perception in the industry that the exercise would go forward into something bigger,” says Mark Botherway, managing director of Solnet, chosen in a consortium with EDS as one of the pilot providers. “If industry hadn’t been expecting that, we wouldn’t have expended hundreds of thousands of dollars on it.”

After reference to the original RFP, Botherway notes that there was a specific clause saying the existence of a pilot was no guarantee of long-term work.

The iPlanet/EDS consortium, and the partners in the other pilot, Oracle and Cap-Gemini Ernst & Young, were asked to provide their services free of charge for the pilot phase.

By March, it was evident that a separate e-procurement project would proceed on a whole-of-government basis (see E-govt unit gets e-procurement pilot), and that the pilot was unlikely to result in a full-blown independent DWI project, Botherway says. Since that had clearly changed the basis of the government’s e-procurement plans, it was clear the project would have to be re-tendered.

In spite of the apparent switch, Solnet/iPlanet is not disappointed, he says. “It’s clear there will eventually be something bigger, only now it’s for the whole of government.”

He is not sure whether Solnet/iPlanet’s investment in the pilot has improved its chances in the eventual tender for a whole-of-government e-procurement system. “They have now seen us warts and all, and that may be good or it may be bad.”

Oracle managing director Leigh Warren says he never expected a long-term Winz project to come out of the pilot. “I think it was pretty clear to us [from the beginning] what they were doing.” The current state of things “is not a big surprise”, he says.

“We saw it as an opportunity to work with a government department and understand their business in detail; to prove the capability of our product and our solution; and to gain the experience of working in an alliance.”

Warren claims the Oracle-CGE&Y consortium “did not keep close dollar tabs” on what was spent on its pilot, so he cannot estimate what it might have cost; “but over the consortium as a whole, it was significant”.

Winz’s aim was to learn from the pilot and to use that knowledge in going forward, and Oracle saw it the same way, he says. “It’s part of the investment we make in a country.”

Warren says he doubts that Oracle has gained any kudos with government that will directly improve its chances in the whole-of-government project, but “we learnt a lot, so that makes us more confident in our abilities to handle the future project”.

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