CarShop is a leading used car supermarket, offering an extensive selection of vehicles across multiple sites in the UK.
Growth: £200m turnover increase in 3 years leading to trade sale
CarShop, motivated by the desire for scaling up, took the opportunity to re-evaluate the DMS market as their existing systems did not provide enough flexibility and could not sufficiently integrate to meet their aims.
Through analysing their existing IT, CarShop identified systems that worked well with little maintenance and discovered that these were built on Open Source technology. With this knowledge, the decision was made to make future business critical system investments with Open Source software. Their growth plan required systems that will reliably support increasing day-to-day operations and be extended and adapted as required without the restrictions and cost implications of a proprietary platform.
With a new vision for their business and having "reviewed the market place", as explained by Brian Scott, Finance Director, CarShop reached out to OpusVL to discuss how they would partner on this project.
To help solve an immediate business problem and prove capability, OpusVL were tasked with an initial project: producing an FSA compliant customer services tool that could later be integrated with the wider core business system.
Upon successful completion of this initial development, Brian stated that CarShop "selected OpusVL to be the partner" and this began an 18-month project to implement an integrated Dealer Management System (DMS) to enable CarShop to scale up.
The key requirements of the DMS project were to simplify the operation and administration of buying, selling, preparing and servicing vehicles whilst also posting accounting transactions in real-time.
The DMS needed to provide a smooth and standardised user experience across CarShop's processes, reduce opportunities for error and improve cost visibility, and provide management information and KPI analysis.
To gain further insight into CarShop's overall needs and plan a strategy to enable successful delivery, OpusVL performed an end-to-end operational analysis of their business processes.
It was clear from this in-depth exploration of CarShop's business and internal systems that there were many opportunities to streamline and automate, unlocking the business potential.
As a growing business with multiple sites, Car shop required a centralised view of company-wide operations. This would accurately aggregate financial data and inventory quantities, giving a detailed, real-time view of vehicle and branch profitability.
CarShop were innovative in retailing a significant proportion of stock as ex-fleet consignment. Typical off-the-shelf DMS products and accounting packages did not accommodate the accounting and finance mechanics in the way CarShop required, so OpusVL were tasked with automating the financial and stock transactions, including:
- Supplier self-billing
- Auto reconciliation of transactions
- Late cost management
- Post-issue invoice amendment
- Return stock / buy-back
- Workshop / prep consumables
It was also important that the new system could be tightly integrated with the website, along with mobile devices and automatic connections to third party services to enable real-time data feeds and customer self-service.
Impressed with their approach to the project, Brian remarked that:
"The team from OpusVL quickly got a good understanding of the CarShop business requirements and also were able to challenge and question the user, delivering a product requirements in a constructive manner, in order to try and identify process and ultimately systems improvements".
OpusVL began the project by applying the "Design Thinking Process" and began a range of business process engineering activities to remove inconsistencies. This activity created the opportunity for deep automation across the business.
A full end-to-end quantification of CarShop's delivery requirements was then determined and a high-level timetable and project plan was created, which enabled budgets and milestones to be agreed.
Development began on the DMS, governed by pre-defined project milestones, each including a related set of features. As the team at OpusVL worked on the system, there were frequent releases into CarShop's business that followed rigorous testing procedures. This enabled CarShop to closely collaborate with OpusVL on the design and usability aspects of their DMS, to ensure their needs were being met.
Weekly discussions and regular management review meetings took place to review milestones, which were delivered in 4-6 week blocks. This allowed the overall project to evolve by mutual consent, enabling OpusVL to accommodate additional client requests and modifications, ensuring flexibility at every stage.
Stuart Mackintosh, Founder/CEO of OpusVL, stated that this project was a "good exercise of our process" in terms of how implementation was approached, with all parties working openly together to achieve their goals whilst applying the required formalities and governance aspects to keep the project in scope and maintain compliance.
Due to what Brian describes as OpusVL’s "very structured feasibility and requirements scoping phase at the commencement of the project" and the development team's tireless work, the 18-month DMS project was successfully completed on time and within budget.
Data migration was undertaken in a strategic manner, working closely with CarShop to enable Export, Transition and Loading (ETL) of their legacy data into the new DMS.
Towards the end of the project, a comprehensive accounting validation exercise was undertaken to finalise and test system integrity. Business processes and stock validation methods were streamlined into unified approaches across all levels of the business.
With the ambition of scaling up being CarShop's motivating factor for implementing the DMS, Stuart had commented that OpusVL's job was to "take the tech out of their way" in order for the customer to focus on delivering the business, brand and products and ultimately deliver their own business goals.
For example, selling a car previously took the user 12 steps, which was reduced to a single step through this process, supported by background automation. This delivered increased efficiency and reduced error across their core business process of selling cars.
With the business joined-up and automated, including financial, operational and workflow aspects, CarShop's four initial sites had grown to seven, there were many more users and customers, and thousands of new vehicles were added to their inventory.
The Open Source element meant they had freedom to use all the software associated with the project, offering value for money and eliminating any vendor lock-in.
At the point of delivery, CarShop's revenue was around £100m per year. During the next three years of trading, revenue had grown to around £300m a year, leading to an acquisition by an NYSE listed group.
An Open Source approach meant that there were no barriers or risk to the operations through the acquisition owing to licence restrictions or vendor lock-in, therefore not hindering the process.
Summarising CarShop's satisfaction with the decision to work with OpusVL and their delivery of the DMS, Brian stated that:
"The approach to the entire project by OpusVL was highly professional and they hit in the main all key milestones throughout the project. The technology used came from Open Source and the team of developers are efficient in their adaptation of the Open Source and have a very good underlying skill set".