Digital Transformation » Systems & Software » Decisions – When it’s time to change.

Haymarket Publishing

Old system CODA

New system Agresso

Haymarket is the UK’s largest private magazine publisher, with subsidiaries and joint ventures in Germany, the US, China, Australia and Malaysia.

The company employs about 1,400 people and has a turnover of about £190m.

Reasons for software update

– CODA-Financials had been in place for 15 years, but Haymarket grew substantially in that time, having developed overseas activities.

– Lack of system integration (eg, between financials and HR), with much manual data entry.

– The need for a common platform to be shared throughout the group.

– Departmental managers couldn’t easily access the information they required.

Options considered – SAP, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, CODA upgrade and Agresso.

Decision process – A project board was established, involving finance, IT, HR, two managing directors from business operations and Deloitte.

Reasons for Agresso as final choice:

– Agresso met criteria for providing an integrated system that would enable information to be shared around the group.

– Agresso offered flexibility, without the restrictions of a more formalised ERP system.

– The solution supports future business growth.

– The Haymarket team felt they could be highly self-sufficient in terms of maintaining and updating Agresso’s solution in future, without needing constant consultancy support.

– Agresso’s team displayed clear understanding of Haymarket’s business culture.

– SAP and PeopleSoft were considered to be solutions better suited to bigger companies, being too complex and not suitably adaptable for Haymarket’s needs.

– JD Edwards’ ERP background suggested it would involve more implementation work and would be less easy to develop internally in future.


David Fraser, group FD: “Cost is important, but the real benefits from this implementation will be in efficiency gains, and the far greater financial and management information that will be available to the business.

The implementation of this system is also an important factor in supporting the growth of Haymarket to take us forward for the next five or 10 years.”

Nic Bellenberg, IT director: “The final choice came down to Agresso and JD Edwards. Both looked as though they would have implemented a system for our budget, but the JD Edwards solution would have involved a lot more manual consultancy setting it up. We were also worried about how easy it would be to take the system forward ourselves.”


Old system Sage

New system Navision

Talacre Beach Caravan Sales is a leading caravan and holiday home leisure park company, with five sites in North Wales. The company generates turnover of £17m-18m and has 160 permanent employees, rising to 250 during peak season.

Reasons for software update

– Old Sage system in place.

– Management team wanted greater flexibility in the management information available.

Options considered – Sage upgrade (to Tetra), Access, Great Plains and Navision from Microsoft Business Solutions.

Decision process – Initial specification drawn up by finance director and management accountant of what was required from the solution. All finance staff were involved in the final selection. Grant Thornton also provided input.

Reasons for Navision as final choice

– Solution provided desired flexibility of management information.

– End-users liked the Navision system.

– Microsoft Business Solution’s implementation partner, Cedilla Systems, appeared to be a good cultural fit with Talacre.

– Good value. Implementing the new financials cost less than £60,000.


Dean Styger, Talacre Beach FD: “They all (the packages) do great debits and credits and look great on screen. I wanted to ensure that the relationship we were entering into with the software supplier would be a good fit for us – that we would be a valued customer and that the cultural fit was right. With Cedilla, I felt we were getting that fit.

“The final choice was between Navision and Access. I asked Cedilla and the Access suppliers to set up a test system for us, and then we held workshop days when all my staff processed transactions through the test systems. Each member of my staff then competed a feedback sheet about what they liked and didn’t like about the system and the people holding the workshops. There was widespread agreement, which gave me comfort that the cultural fit was right.”


Greenfield implementation

FirstAssist is a health and wellbeing provider, offering advice, care and insurance solutions to individuals and organisations. It was formed through an MBO from Royal & SunAlliance in April 2003 and employs more than 1,100 staff.

Reasons for software update – Following the MBO, FirstAssist needed its own IT infrastructure, including financials.

Options considered – Oracle e-Business Suite, including Oracle Financials.

Decision process – A working party was formed, involving representatives from across the business, including finance, IT and HR.

Reasons for Oracle as final choice

– Oracle’s e-business capability was attractive.

– The pre-integration of modules from the e-Business Suite would enable rapid integration and speed to market.

– The solution enabled integration of core functions, including finance, payroll, expense management and purchasing.

– High automation would deliver long-term, real efficiency gains.

– The solution enabled integration with Oracle software used to automate the claims management process.


Mike Logsdon, FD: “We chose the financial accounting element in the context of the wider business requirements for an end-to-end administration system. We will have a single interface to all our core systems and integration from end-to-end, whether I am procuring supplies or managing payroll. There is a common look and feel provided to all users in the business community.” Mitch Lambton, IT director: “The e-Business Suite mitigates a lot of effort in the integration side. The solution has a lot of pre-integration, which enables speed of delivery to market.”


Old System McKeown Software

New system PeopleSoft

Allied Bakeries is the UK’s leading bakery company, claiming a third of the UK’s bread market. Part of Associated British Foods, Allied Bakeries employs more than 5,500 employees.

Reasons for software update

– Better financial information needed to support the business.

– Consolidation involved adding up to 13 separate trial balances.

– KPMG benchmarking study placed Allied Bakeries’ finance function in the fourth quartile for most processes.

– Decision was taken to change the finance model: instead of accounts run, in effect, autonomously at each site, core processes would be run from a shared service centre.

Options considered – Leading ERP solutions; for example, Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft.

Decision process – Finance- and IT-driven.

Reasons for PeopleSoft as final choice

– PeopleSoft would enable significant process efficiencies.

– Acceptable cost.

– PeopleSoft’s reputation.

– Web-enabled solution.

– User-friendly front screen.

– Ease and speed of configuration.


Marc Conway, head of shared service centre: “With PeopleSoft, we liked the ease of setting up business units and configuring it. We felt that by using PeopleSoft we would be able to transfer skills that traditionally lay in IT into the hands of the users (of which there are around 500]. For example, you can change standard reports to suit yourself very quickly rather than having to put in a request to IT.

“We deliberately adopted the embedded business process within the software – we took it vanilla – and changed our internal business practice to fit what PeopleSoft wanted to do. That enabled us to have a very quick design, build, configuration, test and deployment.”


Old system Scala

New system Sage Line 500

The Germain’s Technology Group (GTG) is the world’s largest independent supplier of seed coating and enhancement technology products and systems.

The company has factories in the UK, Ireland, Poland, Holland, Spain and the US, and achieves an annual turnover of $35m.

Reasons for software update

– Sites had their own software systems; consolidation of data was time-consuming, with local data having to be copied to a disk and couriered to the UK head office.

– GTG’s previous system did not have any euro capability.

– Ultimate aim was to integrate financial and manufacturing systems, but financials needed upgrading first.

Options considered – Scala upgrade, Exact (from the Netherlands), Great Plains, Navision and Sage.

Decision process – Selection team involved members of finance, IT and a sister company representative, while overseas sites were involved through demos accessible remotely.

Reasons for Sage Line 500 as final choice

– A Scala upgrade was rejected because servers would still need to be maintained at individual sites.

– Exact and Sage were the frontrunners because their solution allowed central consolidation, without using a third-party product.

– Only the Sage solution could sit centrally using the group’s existing virtual private network.

– Sage could achieve central consolidation in real time.

– Sage’s Excel spreadsheet capability impressed GTG.

– After suffering a previous bad experience, GTG wanted a supplier that could provide a single point of contact for the multicountry implementation.

While Sage did need to use a partner in Poland, it took responsibility for handling the relationship and ensuring no duplication of the work.


Duncan Ellis, group IT manager: “The key identifier between Sage and Exact was that although Exact could offer central consolidation, you still had to get the data from the local site to the central system. We would still have had servers to support at different locations.

“Sage was the only solution where we could have a single server at the central point and be able to access data in real time without any third-party product.”