Case study Manufacturing

IT Strategy supports growth

How we helped a leading UK caravan manufacturer

Elddis understands that their IT provision is core to supporting their aims and goals to improve customer service throughout the supply chain. Their systems and hardware were due for replacement and in order to make the most of any investment, the company felt it was worth examining the current and future requirements of the business to match these with their IT investment.

The Elddis management had plans and ideas for improvement of the business and decided that they would benefit from an outside perspective to test and validate the initiatives, to expand them and to provide up-to-date technical expertise.

Approach

Waterstons carried out an IT Strategy, aligning the business needs with IT investment. The IT Strategy process involved meeting with a range of personnel within Elddis to understand and define the future objectives of the business and the areas of challenge and opportunity. We spent time with each of the Elddis Directors to understand the business strategy and the perceived needs.

The Waterstons team was led by an experienced Project Manager fully accredited in PRINCE2 project management with the goal of generating a plan for investment and a return on that investment for the next three years.

Key Recommendations

It became clear that IT can enable Elddis to achieve its objectives and overall business success and there are opportunities to use advanced technologies as recommended within the IT Strategy:

Reduce Total Cost of Ownership
The adoption of technologies such as virtualisation and thin client were recommended to reduce Elddis’ total cost of ownership.

Shorten the supply chain
Waterstons concluded that Elddis should be an operationally excellent company supported by collaboration technologies to connect suppliers, distributers and consumers to shorten the supply chain and provide a controlled route to market.

Support design facilities
Elddis need state-of-the-art design technologies for the new and exciting products and Waterstons recommending standardising on the use of 3D CAD with training and support for the users.

Improve the customer experience
Information should be timely and readily available throughout the business: a design change, the number of units sold to the dealer and/or ‘retailed,’ or a consumer query- all should be readily available and accessible to relevant parties. Streamlining the after sales processes and allowing greater visibility of design and spare parts throughout the company and with distributers were fairly modest projects which could contribute to a positive Elddis customer experience.

Increase Brand Awareness
Social media techniques, such as the creative use of Facebook and Twitter were also explored and recommended and Elddis now uses these as an integral part of their improved PR strategy.

Project Management

As a result of the IT Strategy Waterstons has been asked to support the implementation of some of the recommendations and are embarking of some identified infrastructure projects.

Methodology

The steps Waterstons took to produce Elddis’ IT Strategy were undertaken in parallel: while the status quo was being assessed, Waterstons also clarified the business strategy.

Assess the status quo
Interviews with operational staff and senior individuals within in each business area helped to identify all the primary systems and processes at Elddis. A high level map of the existing business systems, workflows and information flows was created.

Clarifying the Business Strategy
Waterstons spent time with each director, had detailed discussions with the IT Manager and the Finance Director and delivered a presentation to the Board, including the associate directors and the IT Manager. This along with several internal workshops at Waterstons provided clarity and enabled the business strategy to be defined.

Creating the Strategy Map
Elddis’ strategy map describes how they can create value by connecting their strategic objectives in explicit cause-and-effect relationships with their financial, stakeholder, internal and learning and growth perspectives.

Understanding this connection enables Elddis to focus IT investment in those areas that will support the company’s strategic direction. This will enable specific technology and infrastructure for Elddis to be addressed, and justified.

Discipline Drivers
Waterstons’ experience and research has shown that organisations generally fall into one of the following value disciplines: customer intimacy, product leadership or operational excellence. Because an organisation leads with one of these value disciplines this does not mean that the other two drivers are ignored; they are still focal points within the organisation, but there will be one dominant driver for the whole organisation. Waterstons include this assessment, as experience shows that each driver requires different IT solutions and applications.

IT Roadmap
Waterstons created an IT roadmap outlining IT projects over three phases covering three years. This process produced a three year IT roadmap for Elddis outlining projects over three phases to achieve operational excellence.

Phase one addresses fundamental IT remedial actions and paves the way for phase two and three. Projects in this area include new servers, portal definition and infrastructure remedial actions.

Phase two provides stable and proactive IT services and infrastructure, along with a detailed selection of business systems such as ERP, CRM and telephony systems, including using 3D CAD technology.

Phase three aims to develop Elddis as an operationally excellent caravan and motorhome manufacturer through specific technologies and systems supporting Elddis’ strategic goals. This is where the selected systems are implemented. See figure below.

IT Roadmap image This diagram highlights Elddis’ three phase IT roadmap. It illustrates what Elddis can expect to achieve from each phase and how this will impact and provide a platform for the subsequent phase. Ultimately Elddis will achieve operational excellence through following these phases.

Waterstons talked with all areas of our organisation to ensure they had a holistic view of the whole business. Their thoughts and subsequent strategy has challenged our thinking and also presented new opportunities for us. We look forward to continuing to work with them.
David Styles Finance Director