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Huge challenge ahead to get software systems Brexit-ready

14 Dec 2020

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The Institute of Directors and BASDA have voiced their concerns that core business systems may not be fully ready for 1st January 2021 despite the industry’s best efforts.

Businesses of all types and sizes across the UK rely heavily on their core front and back-office systems to keep their company operating and so it is crucial that the software be up to date. Brexit uncertainties and changes regarding ‘deal/no deal’ scenarios highlight the impact that this may well mean to software supporting key processes including logistics (particularly freight handling), accounting, sales & marketing and their supporting legalities. Such impacts make finalising corresponding development, delivery and implementation of such solutions before 1st January 2021 virtually impossible.

The software developer market has made considerable effort in getting their systems to be as ready as possible for all scenarios. However, the time between getting a deal and implementing it will require software adjustments, and significant work will be required to make the software compliant and ready once any agreement is reached. Software developers need to interpret, implement, and test the necessary changes to their products. These products must then be released as upgrades and installed by the businesses that use them.

Allie Renison, Brexit lead at the IoD, said:

“Industry relies on the readiness of IT systems they use to even have a hope of dealing with disruption, deal or no deal. It’s very worrying that software developers are struggling to contend with being prepared but hardly surprising given the hugely compressed time scales and fact we are still negotiating. The UK and EU simply must give consideration to trade flows and phase in the implementation of any new arrangements.”

Kevin Hart, Chair of BASDA said:

“We want all UK&I businesses to be ‘eyes wide open’ to the issues here, and so plan and resource accordingly. BASDA members, and the wider software developer market, are working around the clock to positively respond to their clients’ needs.  Yet, even with the timely responses from HMRC (who are constrained themselves by Government decisions) to answering questions, this means that a significant number of businesses risk not having the upgrades delivered and installed before 1st January 2021.”

Further information

  • A recent survey from the IoD found that of the 80% affected by Brexit, nearly two thirds were not fully prepared, with over half of those indicating they weren’t sure they could be ready by the end of transition.
  • Many medium to large businesses, along with more complex ones, typically have set ‘software release cycles’ in any one year (sometimes only one) and these will be planned-in many months in advance (sometime 12+ months). Consequently, with the likelihood of new updates coming in ‘fast and furious’, these businesses are likely to need a new level of agility and approach to systems management.
  • The UK business community needs to be prepared for the possibility of several software ‘updates’ from early 2021 (including making provision for people, time, infrastructure, monies, implementation plans, training, etc.). Only as and when the details become known can the industry transform these into corresponding software update plans for their business customers.
  • On top of capacity issues dealing with the pandemic, we are also nearing the Christmas and New Year which traditionally has been a time when many businesses have a ‘freeze’ on implementing software updated and making any key changes to core systems over this period.
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