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Delegating & negotiating on ERP selection at critical business stage

Posted 6/1/2012

Manufacturer of car care products

Background to organisation

The subsidiary of a US parent, with hands-off management and an autonomous UK Board. The UK operation was responsible for marketing, formulating and manufacturing car care products.


The client were at a high-risk crossroads as a business and the directors were extremely time-pressed. They needed to replace a single national distributor by creating their own customer database, sales force and logistics, then build up internal functions like customer service, accounts receivable and IT. Lost sales during the handover might never be recovered, because the departing distributor was looking for a competitor brand to maintain their product portfolio.

The business transformation impacted all aspects of the national operation. The client needed all-encompassing new software and related hardware within 12 months, but had no experience of selecting off-the-shelf solutions.

Project approach

The client used our end-to-end selection approach and appointed Martin Tate to run the project, reporting to the FD. The Project Board was the UK Main Board.


The project was successful but relatively uneventful, progressing steadily through the stage-end gates at requirements definition, longlisting, shortlist evaluation, demonstrations, references and negotiation.

The unusual aspect was that, before negotiation, the runner-up candidate offered to give the client the software (previously costed at over £100k) and only charge for implementation services. After further analysis of the scores, the client declined the offer, because they clearly understood the inferior fit of the runner-up.

This proved to be the first of 10 hardware, software, network or supplier selection projects for the client.

Client comment - Project Sponsor, UK Financial Director

"By adopting the pre-existing selection method, it made it easier for us to subcontract the management of the selection process. Formally defining the requirements covered many internal business areas and also involved identifying customer and supplier processes. This was especially revealing, as most of the senior management team had worked for the company for at least 15 years. The act of discussing and defining the requirements provided an important insight into current best practice."

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