B and Q News: Owner Kingfisher Flies Across Europe
B and Q News Update: B&Q owner Kingfisher flies across Europe in cloud and Ben Hetherington the manager for Kingfisher IT Services talks about IT overhaul.
In charge of standardising IT systems across Europe including within B and Q’s sister companies Castorama and Brico Depot in France, to bring all the differing systems together, Ben Hetherington is Kingfisher’s IT services manager. In an interview with Computing he said that although all systems had not yet been fully overhauled the project was progressing well. He said that as the company moved towards standardisation over all its IT systems some big programmes were underway to work towards this aim.
The challenge for the IT head has been to develop systems that can be used throughout the continent and to bring the UK and French systems in line. Initially the idea had been to use the UK model for the sites in Europe but because of the particular configuration of that system it would have meant starting from scratch. This would have been time consuming and very expensive. Cloud hosting has been decided on to share IT services throughout the continent and B&Q have chosen ServiceNow as cloud hosts. ServiceNow made a good impression during the contractor selection process. As market leaders they had vision and had good forward planning and aspiration. Hetherington commented that some of the other bidders for the cloud contract had been unable to point to a long-term strategy that would be vitally important to the B&Q IT project going forward. B&Q’s Hetherington said that the project to standardise the IT platform across Europe was about half completed with the UK side of the project seeing all its systems replaced with resulting improved functionality.
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Some of the other benefits of the recent IT overhaul include the slimming down to a single system that has allowed for better scheduling and the ability to better configure across shared services within the group. The system in the UK is being used, the IT boss said, to process management services while in Europe it is being used as a tool to facilitate configuration and change.
The B and Q IT chief said that they company could look forward to significant savings as systems that were previously manually operated become automated. Although, Hetherington warned, the systems being put in place could be difficult to get right, manually there is more room for error so automation should lead to greater accuracy in the processes it is applied to.
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