Transforming Information Technology Operations to Meet the Demands of a Growing Business


Performance Improvement Case Study

THE CHALLENGE

With increasing square footage and sales revenue, a major chain of grocery and convenience stores in the United Kingdom wanted to evolve its IT team into one of the highest-performing in the industry. Despite recent growth, its technology systems had become increasingly entrenched and could not keep up with changing needs. The IT division, which was responsible for the technology operations at more than 800 stores, was also hampered by poor visibility, insufficient governance, and inconsistency in how budgets were managed.

In an effort to empower the IT team to drive new business value and better support the chain’s plans for continued growth, the company hired a new CIO, who was tasked with developing and implementing an operational transformation of the entire IT department. The incoming CIO made the early decision to work with North Highland’s team of Performance Improvement experts to spearhead the redesign.

NORTH HIGHLAND WAS ENLISTED TO SPEARHEAD THE REDESIGN OF THE COMPANY'S INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DIVISION, TO DRIVE NEW VALUE AND SUPPORT THE CHAIN'S CONTINUED GROWTH.

THE APPROACH 

Prior to the new CIO’s official start, he, the company, and North Highland began collaborating on the development of a 100-day launch plan that would allow him to hit the ground running with an established transformation strategy already in place. A core goal of the project was to develop a standard and stable methodology for implementing change within the organization. Foundational programs and a flexible framework were designed to accommodate current growth patterns and be agile enough to adapt to new technologies, staffing shifts, and future network requirements. The changes touched all areas of the department, including employee management and training, organizational structure, and technology usage.

Employment Remodel

To begin, North Highland assessed pre-existing structures and capabilities within the department. Pain points and bottlenecks were exposed, and previous successes and failures noted. Through a series of engagement and experience surveys, employees revealed details that helped guide a new operational framework that could live on for years to come. North Highland identified key functions and outlined clear responsibilities, competencies, and critical skills for each. Roles were reshaped and redefined around the model, and groups were repositioned to meet essential needs. After this organizational change, various teams were adjusted to align with new operational processes and expectations.

This redefinition and reassignment also provided a map for employee growth opportunities. The company outlined a clear ladder to support employees interested in rising to higher positions or shifting between roles horizontally. The company developed an online curriculum that allowed employees to participate in ongoing learning opportunities to further their careers. Programs for shadowing, coaching, and mentoring were established, thereby formalizing a chance for motivated employees to make informed career decisions and facilitate internal movement.

FOUNDATIONAL PROGRAMS AND A FLEXIBLE FRAMEWORK WERE DESIGNED TO ACCOMMODATE CURRENT GROWTH PATTERNS AND BE AGILE ENOUGH TO ADAPT TO NEW TECHNOLOGIES, STAFFING SHIFTS, AND FUTURE NETWORK REQUIREMENTS. 

Technology Clean-up

Alongside these employee-oriented changes, North Highland conducted a complete technology review. The assessment analyzed the numerous systems currently in use as well as ones that had fallen by the wayside. Four goals defined the new plan:

  • Eliminate superfluous and fragmented systems, replacing them with cohesive technology solutions that were simpler, cleaner, and more transparent;
  • Establish guidelines and strategies to support ongoing—and future—technology changes; 
  • Increase oversight and accountability, limiting losses from failed IT systems; and
  • Standardize budgets and fund-approval processes. 

Communicating Change

Finally, North Highland set up a framework for sharing these changes with employees in a way that was clear, thorough, and organized. Designated “Change Champions” participated in workshops and activities to communicate the transformational processes with their coworkers. This train-the-trainer approach allowed for more efficient and integrated transmission of goals and information to a large, diverse group. Preexisting systems, including weekly huddles and informational handouts, were improved and expanded upon to ensure that employees had a solid understanding of the changes, their own roles, and wider company news.

THE RESULTS

The simplified technology system was implemented smoothly and cost-effectively, and future changes and updates resulted in fewer disruptions to everyday office functions. By the end of year one, operational expenditures had dropped by nearly 10 percent, meeting a primary goal for the reorganization; subsequent years saw similar decreases in costs.

A North Highland-led survey revealed increased satisfaction and engagement among employees, and staff members across the organization reported benefiting from a sense of empowerment and transparency. They gained a holistic view of company operations and a clear understanding of how their work directly impacts customers. Today, the company as a whole is better prepared to change, adapt, and grow.

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