HIGHLAND councillors said yesterday they are now optimistic computer giant Fujitsu will deliver their £70million IT contract.
The company’s bosses, including UK chief executive Roger Gilbert, held a “heart-to-heart” with senior councillors and officials last week to discuss the contract, the council’s resources committee was told.
The Fujitsu delegation admitted “they had not got it right” but reassured the council that improvements would be made.
Mr Gilbert also told the council that the loss of two major contracts elsewhere would not have a “detrimental effect” on the Fujitsu work for Highland Council.
Concern was expressed by council members recently over the firm’s ability to deliver the Highland Council contract after it missed a number of milestones.
The council has sought legal advice on what measures it could take if the contract is not delivered on time.
Officials are now closely scrutinising progress made during the first year of the contract and will report to councillors in June.
Resources committee chairwoman Carolyn Wilson was more confident about the future after the meeting Fujitsu executives last week.
She said: “They know we were looking into legal advice and we were absolutely clear to say that real improvements must be made quickly.
“I’ve made it clear all the way that I am absolutely serious that this is a big deal for the council. It’s a £70million contract to deliver services that are vital to many of the savings the council needs to make in the next three or four years. If Fujitsu cannot deliver that then we need to find somebody else who can.”
She added that the “worst-case scenario and last option is to pull the plug on this”.
Council convener Sandy Park said after the “heart-to-heart” meeting, he felt confident “the right people have their finger on the button”.
But SNP leader John Finnie said: “I remain to be reassured. There seems to be systemic failure on Fujitsu’s part. They’re a very large company which has lost two significant contracts.”
A new manager, Muhunda Satchithananda, has been appointed for the Highland project and the replacement of IT equipment in schools is und-er way. Smithton Primary was completed last month and work will be carried out at Inverness High this Easter.
Mr Satchithananda said: “Fujitsu continues to provide a high-calibre and professional ICT managed service. The schools now have a support network like they have never had before.
“All 217 schools across the Highlands are assured of reliability and resilience through a defined support structure that includes a manned service desk; a field-based engineering team; remote back-office support; and contracted service levels. The transformed ICT solution has been deployed in Smithton Primary School and pilot rollouts are in progress in another four sites.”
The Japanese company recently lost a £300million contract with the Department for Work and Pensions and a £500million contract with Thomson Reuters.