Mission Failure at LIDL

But Actually, What was the Mission?


Project Business Management


By Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany


“Every mission has life-or-death moments.”
Alan Stern, Scientist at NASA


The international grocery chain Lidl wanted to replace a conglomerate of individual software solutions with a unified standard software supplied by SAP. The epic failure of the project named eLWIS is a prime example of the need to learn Situational Project Management (SitPM) and Project Business Management (PBM). Trial and error are too expensive as teachers for these disciplines.

A Mission Success First approach might have saved the project.

Project eLWIS: The Main Players

Lidl Stiftung & Co.KG is the world-largest discount supermarket chain based in Germany. Its standard retail program is basic grocery products but also special items including mobile licenses and temporary offerings of electronic items and other goods. Founded in its current form in 1973, the group has over 11,000 stores in 27 countries in Europe and the US[1]. Through the group’s focus on very cheap prices, which they achieve through a number of measures[2], it had a steady growth over the years and achieved a turnover of over € 70 billion (US$ 81.7 billion) in 2016[3].

Figure 1: A Lidl store in Munich, Germany

SAP is also a leader in its field – business software. Its turnover for the year 2018 is expected to be around € 25 billion (US$ 29 billion)[4]. With its offering of widely demanded state-of-the art solutions, such as high-performing databases and cloud services for their software, their outlook is very positive.

A third player was a Bavarian consulting company named KPS AG, a consulting company that presents a focus on Rapid Transformation®[5] of organizations, combined with software implementation. In July 2018, the company was selected for the Top 100 Innovation Award for small and medium enterprises.

Further players in the eLWIS project were Hewlett-Packard and Software AG[6]. For a project of this size, it is likely that there was a greater number of subcontractors working for the main players. These can be companies, but also freelancers, individuals, who work as self-employed contractors.

Replacing Old Software at Lidl

It is a common observation that providers of large and complex operations, distributed over a number of locations, have developed a farrago of software solutions throughout their history. Each individual software solution was developed and implemented against

  • specific requirements of a location,
  • by that time prioritized tasks,

which were often different to the requirements of other locations and to the task priorities of other places and moments .


To read entire article, click here


Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Oliver Lehmann, author of the book “Situational Project Management: The Dynamics of Success and Failure” (ISBN 9781498722612), published by Auerbach / Taylor & Francis in 2016. See author profile below.

How to cite this article: Lehmann, O. (2018). Mission Failure at LIDL – But Actually, What was the Mission?, PM World Journal, Volume VII, Issue VIII – August.  Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/pmwj73-Aug-2018-Lehmann-Mission-Success-series-article2.pdf


About the Author

Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany



Oliver F. Lehmann
, MSc., PMP, is a project management author, consultant, speaker and teacher. He studied Linguistics, Literature and History at the University of Stuttgart and Project Management at the University of Liverpool, UK, where he holds a Master of Science Degree. Oliver has trained thousands of project managers in Europe, USA and Asia in methodological project management with a focus on certification preparation. In addition, he is a visiting lecturer at the Technical University of Munich.

He has been a member and volunteer at PMI, the Project Management Institute, since 1998, and served five years as the President of the PMI Southern Germany Chapter until April 2018. Between 2004 and 2006, he contributed to PMI’s PM Network magazine, for which he provided a monthly editorial on page 1 called “Launch”, analyzing troubled projects around the world.

Oliver believes in three driving forces for personal improvement in project management: formal learning, experience and observations. He resides in Munich, Bavaria, Germany and can be contacted at [email protected].

Oliver Lehmann is the author of the book “Situational Project Management: The Dynamics of Success and Failure” (ISBN 9781498722612), published by Auerbach / Taylor & Francis in 2016.

To view other works by Oliver Lehmann, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/oliver-f-lehmann/


[1] (Lidl, 2013)

[2] (Hanbury, 2017)

[3] (Handelsblatt, 2018)

[4] (Kerkmann, 2018)

[5] The expression “Rapid Transformation” is a trademark of KPS.

[6] (Lidl, 2018)