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When ERP migrations go bad: Games Workshop says project issues are delaying refresh of 'dated' online store

Commissar Yarrick's bale eye focuses on company's web retail presence as 'long and complex' saga continues

Games Workshop, the UK's fantasy model maker and table-top wargames retailer, has been forced to stall the development of a new online shopping system because of delays to its ERP project.

In its annual report [PDF], the company said that while online sales were up 70 per cent compared to the same period last year, more than making up for the sales volume shortfall during lockdown store closures, its website is "looking a little dated and the back-end systems at times cannot cope with current volumes."

The current online system was "clearly not a long-term solution or as customer focussed as we would like it to be," the company said.

While Games Workshop was ready to press on with a new online system, an old foe has returned from sagas past. Readers with reasonably long memories will recall the Nottingham-based business was in the middle of making the move from Sage to a Microsoft Dynamics ERP system and the project had hit trouble.

In January, news came that the project had parted ways with its main implementation partner – later revealed to be DXC Technology – as it struggled with the "long and complex project."

According to the company's annual report for 2018-19 [PDF], a move to a "more agile methodology" would help the remaining project go live in 2020.

At the time, the company said certain elements of the project were live and it had a "robust plan for the implementation of the remaining phases" sufficient to downgrade the project's status to "no longer severe."

But fast-forward to 2021, and that ERP project has hit the timeline of the online store refresh.

"The complexity of our ERP upgrade has pushed back the start of a project to upgrade our digital offer, which includes personalising content and improving navigation, by about a year. We are currently in the scoping phase. The early concepts look amazing. It will be another major IT-supported project so we will be resourcing it appropriately with third party expertise," the 2020/21 annual report said.

In terms of investment in assets, the ERP project required £1.1m in the year, on top of £2.3m on a new warehousing facility.

The delay also gained board-level attention. The board is "briefed on a monthly basis regarding major investments and ongoing relationships with key suppliers as required, most notably in the past 12 months in respect of the ongoing ERP implementation project," the report said.

Not that any of this seems to have impaired the group's success. It reported pre-tax profit totalling nearly £151m – up from £90m a year earlier – on the back of £353m in revenue. Games Workshop has also enjoyed a lot of positive media attention as the Dungeons & Dragons revival and COVID-lockdown-inspired interest in board gaming attracted attention to its products. ®

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