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Cyclone Computer wins $73.3M of deals as education ministry project costs grow

Cyclone Computer wins $73.3M of deals as education ministry project costs grow

Project costs are rising on major ICT initiatives at the Ministry of Education.

The Ministry of Education, in Wellington.

The Ministry of Education, in Wellington.

Credit: Google

Cyclone Computer led the contracts list at the Ministry of Education in 2021, sealing a renewed $49.8 million device and services deal.

In addition, the reseller scored a $23.5 million finance deal through subsidiary Cyclone Finance.

The device and services deal on its own eclipsed contracts awarded to large construction companies building schools and other facilities nationwide. Extending the decades-long relationship will see Cyclone to continue to supply customised devices to the education sector and a host of associated services.

Cyclone is known to resell HP, Lenovo, Google and Microsoft devices and software among others as well as Aruba wi-fi systems.

The ministry told Reseller News the company was the service provider of the TELA (digital devices for principals and teachers) scheme and also provided end-to-end services including supplier and stock management, service desk, warranty, indemnity repairs and financing. 

During the last twelve months Cyclone has changed the financing arrangement for the TELA scheme from TRL Leasing to Cyclone Finance reducing costs, the ministry said. 

Cyclone also provided a large number of education-ready devices under the all of government IT hardware agreement to support learning from home as part of the ministry's COVID-19 response.

Also at the ministry, the bills for a couple of large ICT projects have grown significantly.

One project, called the education resourcing system (ERS), began life with a budget of $17.4 million but has now cost or is estimated to cost $63.9 million. 

The ERS will manage approximately $8.4 billion of funding for schools and early learning services each year, replacing a complex thirty-year-old system and around 50 associated systems and data sources.

The ministry said the original estimates for the cost of delivery in 2015 underestimated the scale and complexity of changes to associated systems.

"After establishing the core platform and taking into account policy changes since that estimate was prepared, the remainder of the work was re-estimated," Scott Evans, Hautū (leader) infrastructure and digital said.

"Subsequently, additional funding was sought. The programme has now been allocated funding sufficient to complete the delivery of a fit-for-purpose solution.

"This programme has not overrun and is forecast to remain within budget."

The ERS was being implemented through multiple releases aligned to ministry funding cycles and enabling new government policy initiatives.

"Initial elements have been operating successfully since October 2018, with the new system enabling rapid COVID-19 related funding to the sector in 2020 and 2021," Evans said.

Adoption of the system is above 96 per cent for playgroups while the initial functionality for schools has an adoption rate of more than 99 per cent.

The ERS programme was on schedule for the next three major releases from June 2022 to support the 2023 school year, Evans said. The next release date, for early learning services, is October 2023.

The ministry itself is the systems integrator on the ERS project, which is is primarily based on Microsoft .NET and Azure as well as Oracle Intelligent Adviser. The work is being performed by a mix of permanent and contracted staff, plus a small selection of specialist vendors.

The ministry is also replacing its legacy payroll system, which was introduced in the early 1990s. Expected to go live in the third quarter of 2022, this was budgeted at $5.8 million but will now cost, or is estimated to cost, $7.4 million.

"The expected cost is higher than originally budgeted due to an increase in scope and slightly longer duration to ensure appropriate change readiness and an increase in post go live support," Evans said.

The replacement payroll system is a module of the SAP Success Factors suite of people products used by the ministry. SAP is the primary vendor and is also providing implementation services supplemented with external contractors.

Another programme will implement Te Rito, a web-based national information repository which connects ākonga and learner information across kura, schools, ngā kohanga reo and early learning services. According to a Parliamentary disclosure, Te Rito was budgeted at $4.5 million but would now cost or was estimated to cost $18.5 million.

However, Evans told Reseller News the project was not over budget and the information filed to Parliament was being updated.

"We have been working closely with kura, schools and early learning services across Aotearoa to prepare them to connect to Te Rito," he said. "Some have started getting ready, and some are now connected and using Te Rito."

Te Rito is an online, cloud-based system supplied by Canada-based CoreFour and uses a platform from Massachusetts based education application specialist Edsby.


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Tags schoolsMinistry of EducationCyclone Computereducationgovernmentcovid-19

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