With IT becoming increasingly pervasive and more complex to manage, especially with the need to integrate with many third parties in entwined supply chains, how can the IT department transparently determine which projects and activities should be supported and which postponed? Typically this is both contentious and not simple to define yet if it is done poorly it will serve to alienate many in the business against IT.
Reece is $2.4 billion ASX listed retailer of plumbing and bathroom supplies with over 5000 employees and almost 600 stores across Australia and NZ. It is the market leader and sees that a strong commitment to technology enables it to differentiate itself. This resolve is shown by a willingness to take a progressive and creative approach to the application of IT and in the investment in a large and growing IT department.
Almost ten years ago Reece began the replacement of its aging core business systems. The company made a conscious decision at the time not to utilise an ERP offering. While this went against the conventional thinking Reece consider some areas of its core business systems give it a competitive advantage. As such, it elected to re-build these core applications and to buy best of breed for the rest, integrating everything initially through an Enterprise Systems Bus (ESB) before adopting a Micro Services Architecture (MSA) approach.
The IT department in Reece enjoys the strong support of the business. Yet this has not always been the case. The re-development of the core business systems required a significant change in the approach and necessitated a deeper engagement between IT and the business. In the early days this dialogue proved very problematic. The stakeholders had little context for the implications of their decisions – new projects kept emerging and priorities kept changing. It was difficult to agree priorities and the stakeholders became frustrated at the progress. Reece saw that it needed to provide a framework that gave the stakeholders a context for their decision-making and a way to prioritise activities.
Darren Edgerton has managed the development of Reece’s core applications over the last decade and created the prioritisation framework. He says that the initial scars of this journey have made him somewhat passionate about the importance of developing effective and transparent processes to aid the business when prioritising.
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Executive Director: The HindSight Forum
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