Wates

Case Study

The Background


Wates is a privately owned construction group, principally operating within the UK, turning over circa £1bn, employing 1,500 staff and recognised as one of the 100 fastest growing companies by The Sunday Times. Paul Drechsler had been recently appointed Chief Executive and quickly recognised that IT was in a complete mess. The incumbent CIO had ‘given up’ and was moving on, so Paul called in CIO Plus.

The Problem
 

The IT provision within Wates was as poor as we had ever seen within any company:

 

  • The IT organisation was wholly inappropriate with 90% outsourced to a ‘novice’ service provider.

  • Every construction site was set up differently from an IT perspective.

  • Multiple email systems were being used and were conflicting with disastrous results.

  • There was no ‘Quality of Service’ on the network which was akin to a ‘home solution’.

  • Remote sites could not operate central systems effectively.

  • Each construction site had a direct connection to the Internet with ad-hoc virus protection.

  • There was no Disaster Recovery.

  • There was no clear view of the total IT spend which was dissipated around construction sites.

  • IT spend was significantly above benchmarked industry norms.

  • IT was continually in ‘fire fighting’ mode and had lost credibility with the business..

The Approach
 
One of the CIO Plus directors was appointed as Interim CIO with full responsibility for IT in November and immediately started to review operations and talk to the user base. Significant experience was brought to bear in analysing the situation and a good understanding was achieved on all the underlying issues.
 
A Board Paper was presented in December setting out how all the issues could be resolved in a systematic manner and approval was given for the programme to start immediately.
The Solution:
 
Sometimes a project can be so large or daunting that it is difficult to know where, or more importantly how, to start. It is precisely for these occasions that we developed our Integrated Operational Planning and Budgeting (IOPB) methodology. IOPB starts with an analysis of ‘where you are’ and uses benchmarking techniques to determine ‘where you need to be’. A ‘step by step’ plan, based on experience, is then put in place to determine how the journey should be taken. Further details on IOPB can be obtained from our White Papers Section.
 

 

  • Rationalising 2 conflicting email systems down to one.

  • Setting up a standardised approach to the provision of IT on construction sites.

  • Swapping to a new data network provider and completely re-engineering the network.

  • Swapping to a new telephony provider.

  • Swapping to a new mobile phone provider.

  • Putting effective DR and virus protection in place.

 
The Outcome
 
All major issues were fixed within 9 months and a 4 year plan was handed over to the incoming CIO who CIO Plus helped to recruit. The reduction in IT spend increased profits by 50%.
 
‘Low hanging fruit’ was initially identified to reduce costs and fund efficiency projects to fix IT issues along the way which included:
 
  • In-sourcing the provision of IT, which was previously 90% out-sourced.

  • Restructuring the IT budget and identifying all the relevant spend.

  • Setting monthly operational & financial meetings in place.

"We knew we had significant IT issues and we expected to have to pay a substantial sum to sort them out. We didn’t expect IT to go through so much improvement and be the biggest contributor to profitability in the same year."

Huw Davies, Chief Financial Officer Wates
 

"Probably the best CIO operating in the UK today."

Paul Drechsler, Chief Executive of Wates talking about the Interim CIO supplied by CIO Plus