William Grant’s business champion, Jerry Ede, has criticised SAP for being complacent during its tender process to roll-out the whiskey giant’s new ERP system.
The company is currently consolidating twelve global ERP systems into one, for which it has selected IFS. However, both SAP and Oracle made the final stages of the procurement process, but fell short.
“The first stage of the process was trying to find the right partner. We had 16 different tenders, but finally narrowed it down to three. We got each of these three vendors – SAP, Oracle and IFS – to come in and talk to a number of different people from William Grant, across a number of days,” said Ede.
William Grant gave each of the vendors a number of business case scenarios to solve prior to coming in to meet them.
He said: “By far the most positive was IFS. They made an effort to meet the needs of the business scenario we gave them – we had a good day when they came in.
“We had less of a good day with Oracle, but it still wasn’t bad. SAP, however, turned up with nothing. They told us it would take them months to build it and said we would just have to trust them.”
Ede said that this dismissive approach quickly got the vendor shortlist down to two.
William Grant started the consolidation process three and a half years ago, following a growing concern amongst the company’s board that its information was “appalling” due to the number of disparate ERP systems it had.
It is also going through a period of strong growth, according to Ede, and is trying to get better control of its route to market by opening its own distribution centres, instead of outsourcing the job to third parties.
Ede said: “The decision was to put in a system that would give us some high quality information, call it one version of the truth. We should get some working capital savings, better customer service and aligned processes.
“We never put a financial case on it. When we went to the board we never said we were going to save X thousands of pounds by being more efficient and streamlined. We just wanted a single view, on one platform, that works.”
He added: “In the past we have had P&L information, and if you were looking at turnover, it has a completely definition in different parts of the business, so you had no comparability.”
William Grant’s previous systems were made up of a variety of vendors, including Oracle, JBA and Navision. Ede said: “We just a bunch of systems that didn’t talk to each other.”
The company went live with one of its divisions, First Drinks, approximately a year ago, which was the first of four phases completed.
It has just gone live with phase two in what it calls its SPB centre, which is where all the bottling and supply to 180 markets around the world takes place.
“We used First Drinks as a sandpit to get used to the system, get the project team to understand the functionality. As we have gone on to phase two we have become less and less reliant on IFS consultants, so we have got a lot of the knowledge ourselves now,” said Ede.
“Our technical team is now able to build it and the business leads can advise the teams how to work with it.”
It is still in support with IFS but when the business is happy, Ede says it will go on to implement it in the US and then also in Asia Pacific, with the aim to have it completed by the middle of 2014.
William Grant is also looking to include its distilleries in the roll-out, but they are currently out of scope due to their greater complexity. However, Ede said that it he is likely going to be having talks with IFS about this ‘in the coming weeks’.
Ede was also keen to highlight that it has taken an approach that favours standardisation across the business, where he has been reluctant to implement bespoke features.
William Grant has opted to only make two modifications to IFS’ product, one to account for excise duty and the other for more flexibility around discounts.
“We wanted to take it out of the box, completely standardised. We want the business to change its processes to meet the product out of the box, which is a major challenge,” he said.
“However, we have a change leader and she is involved with the teams and is driving the change agenda. We localised it, we got each of the divisions to put their own people forward and then got them to push the plan.”
In similar news, Babcock International is in the process of consolidating five instances of its IFS ERP system into one, in a multi-million pound project that follows the consolidation of the group’s IT estate into a centralised infrastructure.