Case Study

FCA Automotive Services - Point-of-Sale

An object lesson in how to meet the ‘On time. On budget’ mantra

Context

Jeffri Shapiro, White Clarke Group, writes that when UK captive finance company FCA Automotive Services (previously known as FGA Capital), insisted their POS system had to be delivered “On time, on budget, on spec”, the edict was nuclear. It was also met in full - a five month sprint to install a strategic Point-of-Sale system.

In 2008 FCA Automotive Services entered into a long term agreement with JLR (Jaguar Land Rover) to act as their outsourcer for Point-of-Sale, underwriting, activation and payout functions. JLR was adamant, verbally and contractually, that the Point-of-Sale system, the integral element of ‘front-end’, had to be implemented on a given date, to a fixed budget and to an exacting set of requirements. They chose FCA Automotive Services based on their “unwavering confidence and internal track record” in meeting deadlines. FCA, in turn, selected White Clarke Group as their IT partner.

Challenge

The challenge was considerable - build, test and implement a strategic Point-of-Sale system in five months. No passive HTML screens with furious keying of spreadsheets behind the scenes. ‘Live’ had to mean real-time Point-of-Sale data capture and a fully working interface to a live underwriting system.

Solution

The challenge was met in full and the approach to project management serves as an object lesson for other time critical, mission critical projects:

  • Crystal clear requirements. Take the time up front to gain complete clarity on the business as well as the IT team’s requirements. Avoiding the temptation of “we’ll pick it up in testing” or “we could pick it up as a Change Request if we don’t understand”. Clarify, re-clarify and re-clarify; sign off and move forward.
  • Leverage existing system/product functionality. Come to terms with the fact that, faced with a five month immovable deadline, it is simply not possible to start from a ‘blank sheet of paper’. If you have a viable system or access to a product with out-of-the-box functionality, that, coupled with your clear requirements, should be the starting point for systems design. The first step in ‘design’ then becomes a gap analysis of current system/product functionality versus functionality required to meet the requirements. The key here is to ensure that implementation is time bound and driven to a signed off conclusion.
  • Focus on closing the gap. Striking a balance between best practices and practical design and build is imperative. An element of compromise may be necessary here – achieving the planned live date while recognizing that best practice may be implemented beyond day one.
  • Rigorous testing plan and sign off criteria. Take the time to develop an auditable approach with clear test criteria and ways and means to sign off test results.
  • Develop a countdown plan. Within the overall project plan, there should be a list of must-do activities that drive the implementation from the test environment to the production environment.
  • Develop the big 10 go-live success criteria. The ones that will make or break day-one implementation. Take stock of these each day until there has to be a collective decision on ‘go live’ (in this instance, FCA Automotive Services' go-live date was mandatory).
  • Celebrate success. Having finished the 15 minute celebration on going live, ensure your day two to day ninety implementation plan is updated to reflect any lessons learned along the way.

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FCA Automotive Services

Results

Brian Williams, previously Commercial Director of FGA Capital said: “It is a huge step forward and our people are very happy with it. It is completely web-based and we have real control. It’s a significant advantage as we are able to make changes to it ourselves. Being able to configure the system internally gives us that all-important speed to market.”

For more detail on any aspect of CALMS, please contact us today

We’re very pleased with White Clarke Group’s execution of this project. We wanted to move fast and with the leadership of White Clarke Group the project was completed successfully on schedule in just four months. Bill Besgen, President, Hitachi Capital America