Prison Service cuts costs with shared IT systems

Prison Service cuts costs with shared IT systems

£40m initiative will be fully rolled out by October

HM Prison Service is nearing the end of a shared services programme that will help save more than £95m.

The £40m initiative to share IT systems between different locations will be fully rolled out by October this year.

The project will provide a number of benefits, according to Steve Hodgson, head of shared services at HM Prison Service.

“We had a lot of disparate systems that were expensive to operate,” he said. “We have automated a number of services and thus reduced our overheads.”

Finance, procurement and human resources (HR) systems ­ previously run separately at 130 Prison Service locations ­ will be operated centrally.

Redesigning the system involved migrating 130 payroll databases and more than 50,000 records onto a single server.

The changes will generate savings in two main areas.

Automation has led to 1,200 employees being laid off in finance and HR departments.

And the service, which spends £500m annually on procurement, will gain better economies of scale when purchasing IT equipment.

The system will speed up administration by collecting and analysing data in one place, so financial reports can be produced more rapidly, and staff expenses will be reimbursed within five days rather than 10.

The Ministry of Justice is looking at how it might extend the shared capability to other areas.

Making shared services technology scalable is about balance, said Ovum analyst John O’Brien.

“You want enough people on there to make it worthwhile, but the larger the system the greater the risks involved,” he said.

Supplier EDS built the system on top of existing Oracle software.