The department awarded Microsoft partner Comparex a contract worth just under £50 million via the pan-government ‘Technology Products’ framework. It ousted Software Box which had been the incumbent supplier since 2004 and is due to see its contract for Microsoft Office software expire next summer.
The MOD’s various agencies and departments will migrate to Office 365 gradually over the next three years. In the first year, the MOD will make Office 365 available to 90,000 users, then 150,000 next year and 180,000 in the final year.
The MOD’s CIO Mike Stone admitted in a blog post, when he joined a year ago, “we need to dramatically improve our core IT system”. Stone promised to get the MOD to adopt more user-friendly technologies exploiting cloud and mobile and wrote that he wanted 30 specific improvements to the IT experience for MOD users. However, he only identified better access to the internet, access to social media, quicker logon times and more flexible mobility solutions.
Commenting on the same blog, the MOD's information systems and services director Mark Neal said the 30 improvements also include better file sharing, choice of more than one browser, new laptop models, reducing the size and weight of devices, more regular password resets and access to more IT training.
“There’s a lot to do, and this is not an overnight fix, but we are on the right path,” Stone said.
Stone started his career in the Army before moving to BT for eight years, then to Mastek, finally working as CEO at MOD back office provider Defence Business Services before taking up the CIO post.
The MOD came in for criticism from the Public Accounts Committee last September after it emerged the department had wasted at least £70 million on an Army recruitment system due to its poor management of ICT suppliers.
The online recruitment portal is a major part of plans to reduce the size of the regular Army and recruit at least 11,000 reserve soldiers to help meet some of the shortfall.