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PC World Business Feb 01 - present

Director of Change Management – PCWB

Organisation Overview

c. £350+m turnover B2B IT re-seller. Operates via two call centres and two distribution centres between Bury (Lancs), Runcorn and Borehamwood, with c 800+ employees. Additionally, multi-channel capabilities achieved through 130+ Business Centres in PC World retail stores, as well as on line e-commerce operations through www.pcwb.com which accounts for c. 12% of business.

The Role

Responsible for overseeing all of the processes, initiatives and resources within the business that are focussed upon creating structured change within both a Strategic and Tactical context by;

  • Overseeing all planning and project management activities
  • Managing the portfolio of Business Improvement Initiatives arising from planning and day to day activities
  • Lead A&M acquisition and integration activities
  • Ensuring the operational efficiency of the existing IT and Telecommunications infrastructure.
  • Deliver technical solutions and application functionality to business problems and needs.
  • Identify and develop process solutions to business problems that may or may not involve a technical/systems intervention, eg Business Process Re-engineering.
  • Provide the infrastructure/capability to capture, process and deliver business information and the policy regarding data capture, definition & organisation.

Major Responsibilities

Business Development

Business Planning

  • Ensure the integrity of the 3-year plan model, such that the structure is consistent with using the 3-year plan as an effective integrated management tool for the whole of the business. To work with all stakeholders, to ensure the inputs and output methodologies to the model are correct.
  • Support the Exec and Management teams in business planning activities, with an emphasis on the 3 year plan and its consequential output as the start point for annual budgeting and interim re-STFs.
  • Manage the design of the planning framework, its processes, its execution, and subsequent implementation
  • Counsel consistency and achievability in the plans and their KPIs, whilst still setting stretching ambitions
  • Review of tactical actions consistent with the strategic objectives
  • Coach stakeholders in objective setting and ownership of direct and shared KPIs
  • Facilitate planning processes as appropriate

Project Management & Business Improvement Initiatives

  • Define the process for Business Improvement Initiatives and associated project management best practices framework
  • Monitor the business improvement initiatives within the business by ensuring that they are appropriately logged, classified and prioritised and that such details are appropriately communicated within the business
  • Provide coaching and quality control to the leaders of initiatives, and potentially project manage strategic initiatives
  • Ensure that appropriate review mechanics and criteria are in place

Business Process Re-engineering

  • Personally, or by directing others, the job holder will independently or upon request review and enhance existing business processes and working practices in order to improve productivity, quality and increase commercial responsiveness.
  • Ensure effective communications of those involved in BPR and IS Development projects.

Information Systems Management

  • Overall responsibility for ensuring the effective operation of all information systems including both software and hardware within PCWB.
  • Direct the maintenance and development of office systems including email, fileserver, network and platforms upon which business applications run on, eg, Data Warehouse, Finance, etc.
  • Manage the desktop PC requirements for the business including development, enhancements, monitoring of use/needs and fault rectification.
  • Monitor and where necessary address issues concerning SLA’s of key IS suppliers and in turn the internal SLA’s of the IS department with their internal customers.
  • Produce, and as necessary implement, disaster recovery plans.
  • Identification of needs and opportunities to improve the businesses decision making capability by identifying and leading the development of new/improved functionality of existing systems, or the need for new systems.
  • Leading and directing the capture of business needs in order to produce needs analysis and cost benefits recommendations.
  • Oversee the development and implementation of the solution using in-house or third party developers and project managers.

Management Information

  • Responsible for ensuring the availability of accurate, timely and relevant business information for review and responsive decision making across the business.
  • Ensure changes to information sources and formats requested by one area of the business are compatible with the needs of other areas.
  • Provision of business information to enable high level/long term business planning and data modelling.
  • Producing forecasting analysis of proposed new business areas/propositions.

Business Leadership

  • As part of the senior management team of PCWB the job holder will play a key role in the development of the business strategy, planning process and review.
  • The job holder will identify, implement and police IS policy across the business, (eg, internet, email), and project management policy.
  • Budget responsibility for identifying IS, Business Development and Business Improvement expenditure, priorities, cost-benefits and the Capital Expenditure Request process (CER) is the job holders responsibility.
  • To manage a diverse technical team of staff covering a range of technical specialisms which at times will include project managers, business analysts, technical architects, desktop engineers, networks engineers, systems analysts, etc. Management of such technical staff will require a broad understanding of all technical fields in sufficient depths to be able to direct the activities of the team, approve recommended action/timescales and provide appropriate training and development.

Specific Projects & Achievements

Acquisition and Integration of MicroWarehouse

MicroWarehouse was one of PCWB's closest competitors. MicroWarehouse Ltd's US parent went into Chapter 11 in Sept 2003. The liquidators sold off the European operations which was acquired by a consortia of Gores and Dixons, with Dixons retaining the UK interests. I provided all of the pre-acquisition project support, business and financial modeling including producing and delivering the business case, co-ordinating and participating in due diligence activity and  negotiating primary and related contracts.

The acquisition was completed June 2004. Subsequently I acted as Programmed Director for the integration activities particularly systems integration.

Strategic Review – "The Way Forward"

"The Way Forward" is a process of strategy evaluation and development adopted by PCWB. This involves the Executive Committee and the Management Committee representing c. the top 7% of management. This has gone through a number of stages starting with various structured groups evaluating specific issues. After the first stage, there was a requirement to lead to a 3 year plan.

In consultation with the Executive Committee I formulated a process based on my Boots Group Value Based Management work (see below). This involved a diagnosis of core competencies and current proposition leading to a formulation of strategies based on critical success factors.

Once the process was formulated, I convened and personally facilitated each meeting. This was a challenge in itself as a fair proportion of the senior management team had not gone through such a structured strategy formulation process before. It was an education process for them and fulfilling for me to extract from them a reasonably cohesive collective approach which had management ownership.

The process will evolve in sophistication as it goes through subsequent iterations, but a lot was achieved in this initial iteration, which has been captured and reflected in the three year plan. Most importantly it brought a greater sense of collective direction, where little existed before.

3 Year Planning Model

Design and development of an Excel based 3 year planning model in support of the Strategic Review Process. The model incorporates an iterative consultative process incorporating the provision of 2-3 years of historic data to KPI stakeholders in support of projected assumptions. Assumptions are collected from key stakeholders and combined with Finance and Cost Centre assumptions, to produce an initial Bottom Up view. Sense checks may be applied and the results remodelled from a Top Down perspective.

Overlays are created to allow short term forecasting and next year budgeting. Scenario modelling, and large scale cost benefit analysis may also be created as an overlay.

The model creates the basis for shorter term budgeting, and generates KPIs which are then incorporated into internal reporting mechanisms for performance monitoring.

IS Department Organisation

I joined PCWB at a time when there was no structured IS Department. The IS resources were scattered between various responsibilities and predominantly supplemented by an ERP replacement project, Project Druid, managed by a contract Programme Manager.

The pre-Druid legacy systems were green screen based, with terminals rather than PCs and the business’ demands on IS where unsophisticated. Druid changed all of that, with PC based GUI systems and a much more demanding user community.

Druid was scheduled to complete within six months of my joining PCWB. I took responsibility for overseeing the project completion and managing the transition to the post-Druid era. This involved creating a cohesive IS team with clearly defined responsibilities. I re-organised the support infrastructure which had become fragmented during the Druid project. I also created clear lines of responsibility between IS Development and IT support, including an explicit "Development to Support Lifecycle", to ensure post-development support of new initiatives.

Subsequently I also took responsibility for the Corporate Reporting/Business Intelligence infrastructure, which was previously within the remit of Marketing. I ensured, proper development and support disciplines were in place and that the business wide reporting was evenly delivered across competing business functions. I also had to address the issues of systems performance and disaster recovery.

System Change Request Process

The Druid era (see above) established certain change request processes, which called upon a single budget and thus did not contain a complete lifecycle of resource establishment, although it did contain a justification process. Post-Druid an alternative process had to be established.

Based on a Dixons Group template I established a structured change request process, in consultation with the business users. This involves regular meetings between the senior IS staff and the senior staff of each functional department, to clarify requirements, establish priorities, monitor progress and review previous implementations against agreed targets.

This process establishes explicit KPIs for both required functionality performance, and committed benefits, against the costs incurred, to ensure a proper return on investment for IS capital spend. Even where capital spend is not required a similar process is followed so as to best prioritise scarce internal IS resource. The process also ensures compliance with the IS Strategy Framework (see below).

IS Strategy Framework

In the absence of any previous structured IS department, business functions were used to a self-help approach, which in a technology focussed business, led to solutions that were not without sophistication. However, this led to a set of uncoordinated and usually unsupported solutions.

In the interests of total cost of ownership, system resilience, and support, I worked with the business and senior IS management to establish an IS Strategy. This defined the core technologies upon which the business operates in order to establish consistency of development, exploitation of core technologies, establishment of skill set requirements and a clear IS training requirement. Solutions that are "off strategy" are gradually being brought "on strategy" through the Systems Change Request process described above.

The IS Strategy Framework has also been brought to bear in support of the three year business planning process. The grounds for adapting the IS strategy have also been established to accommodate any business strategy shift that cannot be supported by the current IS strategy.

Software Vendor Relationships

I am ultimately responsible for the relationship that PCWB has with its software vendors. PCWB operates an outsourced development model, so vendor relationships are very important. Following the ERP system implementation the relationships were in a very stressed state due to some short termist behaviour, prior to my arrival. I have repaired the relationships onto a better footing, with pragmatic engagement for mutual benefit, which has driven both better value for investment, as well as better responsiveness, in both daily support issues as well as development requirements. On occasion this has proved invaluable where rapid developments have been required.

Acquisitions Integration Support

The Dixons acquisition of Genesis Telecommunications has required my involvement in both IT Infrastructure and IS Development. The Genesis business needed to be incorporated into the Dixons WAN via the PCWB location, with longer term synergies sought in IS Infrastructure.

In IS Development Genesis requires a complete replacement of its core applications. I have been involved in the process of selecting the appropriate solution, considering the Genesis needs, the synergies possible within the Dixons Groups, and the common requirements with PCWB. This role additionally requires me to advise Genesis on the Dixons Capital Expenditure Request process, and ensure that Dixons’ interests are protected in following the appropriate selection approach.

Profit Protection Planning

Provided ongoing cost and profit analysis during the 2001 economic downturn, providing support to the MD & Executive Committee during a time when no FD was in situ.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Facilitated working party on the review of TQM and an exploration of its applicability to PCWB. Formulated recommendations and progressing on the execution of those recommendations.