Dunelm is one of the most successful home furnishings retailers in the UK and is enjoying rapid growth. Founded over 20 years ago in Leicester, Dunelm has grown from relatively small high street units in the East Midlands to a mainly superstore format in more than 70 out of town locations UK-wide.
The company's main focus is on home textiles – curtains, bed linen, bath linen, cushions, fabrics, quilts, rugs and soft kitchen furnishings. In addition, larger stores offer a wide range of other homewares products such as kitchenware, tableware, lighting, gifts and seasonal products.
Towards the end of 2004, the company's continued growth prompted them to look at their existing business systems. It was clear that these would not support the company in line with it's expansion plans.
David Stead, Finance Director of Dunelm states: "We were increasingly concerned about the ability of our central systems to support our growth plans and provide us with the functionality we needed. We had simply outgrown them and the time was right to change."
"We recognised that in order to make a good choice for our new system, we would need support from a specialist. We met a number of consultancies before deciding to work with Paul Mason Consulting (PMC) Limited. We asked them to help us through the process of defining requirements, managing the Invitation to Tender (ITT) and handling the vendor selection process. This was a crucial activity as the new system would need to underpin our business strategy and support our future growth."
Initially, PMC reviewed Dunelm's future requirements and looked at their existing systems including Merchandising, Warehousing, Finance, Payroll and HR. It was clear that the existing systems had reached their limit in terms of the size of business they could support and the limited business intelligence they provided.
PMC also provided Dunelm with advice on retail best practices before defining and documenting the company's requirements. Once these had been established, PMC assisted with creating the vendor shortlist, conducting an impact and risk analysis, writing the ITT and managing the vendor selection process.
PMC provided an extensive list of potential vendors, and based on their market knowledge and research, reduced this down to a shortlist of five vendors who best matched the high level requirements. PMC developed the selection criteria alongside Dunelm - these included functional fit, flexibility and scalability of the solution, confidence in the product roadmap, track record of the solution provider and implementers, and the ability to meet the desired project timescales.
Stead continues: "The PMC team showed a good understanding of our business and fitted well into our culture. All of the consultants we worked with have a retail background so they understand the environment. They did a professional job in terms of identifying potential solutions, developing the ITT and managing the tender process – without trying to take away the final decision from us."
The project began in November 2004 and concluded successfully at the end of April 2005 with the selection of Ciber Novasoft to implement SAP across the business. Ciber Novasoft met Dunelm's requirement for an integrated scaleable solution capable of supporting their planned growth and providing the functionality and information needed to run the business effectively.
As part of the process, PMC provided Dunelm with an impact and risk analysis, which is an essential requirement when replacing central systems. Dunelm recognises that the implementation of the new system will be much more than just an IT project, and that it may involve some important changes to the way the company operates – which will need to be managed carefully to ensure that staff are fully trained and ready to exploit the benefits of the new system.
Stead concludes: "PMC helped us find a solution which we believe will be right for us. Their expertise helped us define the brief, manage a structured process and gave us access to knowledge and experience we did not have in house."