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Successfully procuring new enterprise-wide software across diverse divisions

Posted 1/1/2017

Specialist engineering and construction consultancy 

Background to organisation

The client provides water and wastewater treatment services to millions of people around the world. Established in 1968 in the UK, they employ almost 3,000 people worldwide and have a turnover exceeding £200m. Their expertise covers:

  • Water and wastewater treatment
  • Desalination
  • Water asset management and consultancy
  • Infrastructure ownership, investment and operation
  • Package plants and products
  • Leisure and environmental advice.


The client's bespoke software managed all projects, budgets, processes, materials and personnel data within the company. The project was to replace this software with a single, off-the-shelf enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

To get the best out of ERP, every company department must be involved, so inter-departmental agreement was essential and detailed knowledge of suitable candidates on the market was needed.

Large ERP solutions typically take a long time to implement, so a decision had to be made as soon as possible, as the incumbent software was 15 years old, labour intensive, expensive and due to become unsupported.

Project approach

The project sponsor agreed that the Board, charged with making the decision to choose a replacement, needed a formal method for evaluation and selection. After searching for relevant expertise, they engaged us.

The new software had to replace eight other solutions, making the project very complex and high risk.

The Board required a formal approach for choosing new enterprise software, so we applied the majority of our method, now documented in our BCS book, to cover:

  • Project scoping
  • Off-the-shelf selection method
  • Weighted attribute scoring at short-listing and detailed evaluation stages
  • Formal decision-making sessions as part of the normal Main Board meetings.


Our methodical approach revealed that the scope of the project should be expanded to include the global enterprise, rather than solely the main UK division. We expanded the requirements definition interview programme and the project board gained two new members, the Group CEO and Group CFO. With our project support technology and decision-making facilitation, the project progressed steadily through the 'gates' for a period of 15 months.

The outcome was that their preferred candidate was demonstrably superior to the industry brand leader, but at half the cost, even before negotiation.

Following a thorough gap analysis to identify opportunities, we briefed the negotiation team, focussing on price, maintenance and 'free enhancements' (closing gaps to fit in the standard software at the supplier's cost). The result was better-fitting software and a reduction on the asking price of £1.2m to £800,000.

Client comment - Project Manager for both selection and implementation phases - Peter Ogden, Biwater

[Best part of experience?] "The formal methodology. Because it is so clear in terms of objectives and outcomes, it enables people at all levels to buy into the process at an early stage. It also provides a clear record of due diligence, which is exactly what we required for a major IT/business system investment. During the implementation, the selection process has been thoroughly justified. We involved the right people from across the business in the selection process, and nobody can say they were not represented or involved. Although no system is perfect, we have taken a thorough and auditable approach to finding the best fit for the business."

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