System Selection Support

Buoyant Upholstery

The Client

Buoyant Upholstery have been manufacturing quality sofas and chairs since 1909. The original factory was in Nottingham but they moved to the North-West town of Nelson in 1973. They currently employ over 600 people.

The Problem

Having taken over the business as part of an MBO, the Buoyant management recognised risks. The risks were associated with running a 15 year old “green screen” system, particularly in view of expansion plans. They therefore decided to undergo an ERP system selection project. Any shortcomings of the system were resolved by the use of several increasingly complex spreadsheet applications. These spreadsheets depended heavily on key personnel. The system, whilst able to assist with most of the functional requirements of the business represented a significant risk. Support was in short supply and complexity in the business was growing.

New state of the art integrated ERP system with proven history of solutions for the upholstery industry. The new system must handle all facets of the business from product design and change management, planning through to product configuration of orders, scheduling of shop floor on “make to order” basis, dispatch/transport planning, handling of customer issues and accounts. The new system must also offer the ability for access from the field both for agents to enter configured orders and for Customers to progress chase their own orders.

The Solution

A full business analysis was undertaken. All key management in each department were interviewed and the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the current systems discussed/analysed. As a result of this exercise a Specification of Requirements was drawn up. Key questions were isolated so that prospective vendors could provide their responses.

What the Client Says

“Gradient greatly assisted and speeded up our process to find a suitable partner to work with. They had extensive knowledge of the marketplace within our given field and helped enormously in pulling together our scoping document and running the selection process with our steering committee. We believe we’ve found the right partner to work with going forward and it was only by using their input where we able to get to this solution so quickly. They were able to map their knowledge of the systems available onto our knowledge of our process.”

Joel Rosenblatt, Chairman


  • A steering committee was formed including key personnel from the various areas of the business.
  • Key measures of success were chosen in order to measure the the success of the project in due course.
  • The statement of requirements was issued to a number of potential ERP vendors. Each vendor could satisfy clients requirements within the overall project budget. Both in terms of functional fit against the specification and reputation in the market place.
  • The responses were assessed and tabulated. This was to allow Buoyant management to select a shortlist who were then invited to the next stage in the process. These vendors came to site to perform their in-depth study of the process and to demonstrate their product with particular regard to the key points previously identified.
  • A preferred supplier was selected to return to site and run an in-depth workshop showing how the full process would be catered for using their solution.


  • Using Gradient to perform an objective analysis enabled Buoyant management to quickly identify vendors who would not be able to provide the solution and avoid wasting time and effort assessing their suitability.
  • Gradient’s expertise in the marketplace, particularly having recently undertaken another similar project in the same market sector, allowed Buoyant to gain insights into the ERP system industry which assisted Buoyant’s management to negotiate a satisfactory contract for the supply and delivery of their chosen system and associated services.

Contact us or call Gradient now on: +44 (0)1282 463 710