Gus Home Shopping

Company: LawsonCustomer: Gus Home ShoppingSubmitted by: Portfolio CommunicationsWhen the finance team at GUS Home Shopping, part of the £5.5 billion Great Universal Stores PLC portfolio, began a search for software companies with the capability to meet their integration and Y2K compliance requirements, they awarded the contract to Lawson Software.Lawson has deliberately targeted the retail sector as a major international market and, with over 240 customers, its rapidly growing retail client list now includes the Dixons Group, Littlewoods, Argos and Interflora, making the company one of the UK’s leading suppliers of business software to the retail sector.

When it made the GUS short-list, Lawson ran a three day workshop for the GUS Home Shopping finance systems team to prove that its enterprise e-business solution, lawson.insight, was ideally suited to the needs of the retail sector.Annette Whitehead, financial development controller for GUS Home Shopping, explains why Lawson was the final selection: “Whatever platform we put in place had to be a base on which we could build for future requirements. We liked the fact that the user-friendliness of the Lawson system was also complemented by its apparent ease of implementation. We felt confident that the product would require the minimal amount of modifications to suit our specific needs.

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There was a good relationship and rapport with the Lawson team right from the outset, so we felt we would get advice, support and assistance when we needed it.”lawson.insight which went live at GUS Home Shopping on 30 November 1998, has 250 users based across two sites in Manchester and six sites in Worcester. It covers payment for all non-merchandise and general expenses, comprising around 6000 invoices per week. It also handles sales invoices for GUS Home Shopping’s business with third parties, for example the GUS Home Shopping-owned distribution company, White Arrow Express, which carries out deliveries on behalf of companies such as Readers’ Digest and Direct Wines.

Behind the contract, there were some compelling business issues for Lawson to resolve for GUS. GUS Home Shopping Network consists of several companies and has been gradually moving towards greater centralisation of systems during the 1990s. As Annette Whitehead explains: “In November 1998, we had four different financial IT systems and various mainframe legacy systems to work with. The need to amalgamate the IT systems and finance departments came just as we began to look at Year 2000 compliance. lawson.insight is fully integrated, so that data entered once is automatically updated everywhere.

This efficiency ensures that all of our business information is working together.”Commenting on the value the Lawson implementation has brought to GUS Home Shopping, Whitehead says: “In an increasingly competitive world, the company with the best information on which to base its key management decisions is the one most likely to win and prosper.”As a home shopping company, our information is crucial to us and needs to be constantly updated. After working from four systems, Lawson has now given us one centralised application from which data can be extracted and analysed. Strategic, timely information for our management gives us competitive edge.

“Annette and her team utilised lawson.insight’s flexibility to develop the 100 plus tailored reports required by management and other users to benefit fully from the information captured on the system. The financial suite updates two or three times each day during the course of working hours, to keep the company’s data in line with business activity. As a leading supplier of enterprise business applications, lawson.insight enables this data to be analysed quickly, efficiently and reliably, so that the knowledge needed to improve the decision-making process can be extracted from it.

The system has been designed for present and future needs of the company. GUS Home Shopping and Lawson have reviewed the functions carried out by GUS Home Shopping financial staff and analysed their requirements from lawson.insight. “We sat down and ran through the processes undertaken by all the financial staff and we now have a system which will serve us effectively,” says Annette.Despite the highly tailored design, there was still some concern that users would experience difficulties in learning about and using the new system.

However, the team was pleasantly surprised when the training phase ran without problems. “The users took really well to the lawson.insight system,” says Annette. “Many of our employees have been with GUS Home Shopping a long time and don’t have the confidence or experience with lots of different IT systems that young people coming out of school and university have today. This was why ease of use was such a significant issue during supplier selection.”GUS Home Shopping has bought Lawson’s financial and procurement suites from lawson.

insight 7.0.2 International and lawson.insight 7.0.

6 Assets. The system runs on a Unix platform over a WAN, using an Informix database on a Sun Microsystems Sun Solaris operating system. The comprehensive financial solution includes general ledger, cash book, accounts payable, accounts receivable, billing, order entry, warehousing, purchase ordering and inventory control. The financial suite enables businesses to compete effectively using an integrated financial system that accesses up-to-the-minute, accurate information from all areas of the organisation.”The amalgamation and upgrade of systems has been a huge challenge for the finance department,” says Annette.

“We plan to upgrade lawson.insight in the future, to improve our business efficiency and possibly move it out into other areas of the business. For the moment though, the system has more than enough functionality and we’d quite like a break before the next adventure!”