SAP is too important to founder

AS WE now know, the SAP software introduced by the States to standardise and streamline procedures has run into difficulties to the point where ministers had to be briefed on the problems encountered to ensure that they remain on message and supportive of the project.

AS WE now know, the SAP software introduced by the States to standardise and streamline procedures has run into difficulties to the point where ministers had to be briefed on the problems encountered to ensure that they remain on message and supportive of the project.

Elsewhere, there is less enthusiasm. ‘Within the Civil Service SAP is considered to be a joke by most people from the “workers” up to senior officers. Many have privately stated that they would like to contact the Press but are scared to do so; mouths to feed etc…’, one employee told us on Friday.

This is troubling. A project on this scale was never going to be trouble-free but there are indications that staff and officials are starting to lose confidence in the process and departments are complaining that SAP and the Financial Transformation Programme are taking up too much time.

That, too, is troubling. Guernsey can ill-afford for the £7.9m SAP programme to falter, not least because, properly implemented, it will provide a launch pad for other reforms in service delivery.

The biggest criticism that can be made of the States is that it is substantially the same now as it was in 2008 when the global slump hit. While the private sector and governments elsewhere have re-engineered to survive, Guernsey has sailed on with no redundancies, no closures of

departments, unable even to impose a pay freeze, and cheerfully keeping open its ruinously expensive gold-plated pension scheme.

As we reported on Friday, the big spenders are struggling to hit their FTP targets and an organisation expected to gross £372m. this year keeps a straight face as it says it can’t take less than 10% off its expenditure.

In this context, SAP is vital because it signals a significant shift in attitude and a move to corporate, centralised working and a real opportunity to strip out layers of duplication and cost.

To see the project struggling is therefore worrying because it is the springboard for further efficiencies and savings.

So while many want to kick the programme into touch, it is simply too important to be allowed to fail.