IT Strategy for High Growth

As Europe’s longest established homeopathic manufacturer, Nelsons has been supplying quality homeopathic medicines since 1860.

Still a family-owned business, it is the UK’s largest manufacturer of natural healthcare products, including well-known brands such as RESCUE Remedy, Bach Remedies, Arnicare, Teetha, Spatone and Pure & Clear.

The Goal

After the business had experienced years of strong growth, it gave the Board the confidence and the ambition to expand beyond its core European markets, an audacious corporate strategy of global expansion including the highly regulated North American market was sanctioned.

To achieve their goals the IT Director approached us to help define an IT function that was capable of supporting the new high growth corporate strategy.

Historically, IT had not been an enabler for growth at Nelsons, with highly manual processes, unconnected systems and a culture of ‘getting by’ and as a result, the function was not fit to support the future ambition of the business, what was needed was a functional change strategy and a plan to implement.

The Achievements

Through a series of workshops, we guided the IT Director and his management team through the translation of the company’s business objectives, into a robust and measured functional strategy that:

  • Reshaped and clarified the IT functions role in helping the business deliver its strategy;
  • Established the department’s mission, vision and business objectives;
  • Defined the detail of the strategy with plans, KPIs and governance procedures.

The Journey

Having reviewed the corporate strategy, we held a series of interviews with the business’s functional and unit leaders to understand their perception of IT. We delved into areas such as IT relationship management, system architecture, change management, help-desk support and data provision. This gave us a clear sense of business expectations of the function.

In parallel the IT team were tasked with undertaking external analysis for their business areas. Through this exercise they were able to articulate their views on their current set-up and suggest improvements based on gaps and researched best practise.

The IT department had already undergone two externally lead technology assessments. Through these assessments, strengths and weaknesses of their system architecture were documented. We built on this work by consolidating these external views with those of the team, the IT Director and business stakeholders. When taken together, this consolidated analysis provided a clear list of strategic priorities.

“Four Points have a rare ability to use real expertise to consistently add value at all levels and in a variety of situations within the organisation. They quickly build credibility at board level and ensure a smooth and effective transition of work by being approachable, results-orientated and using an extensive tool box of techniques.”
Karen Dicks, Chief Financial Officer, A Nelson & Co

Armed with this analysis, we ran workshops with the IT team which resulted in a change strategy outlining the team’s aspirations, service and operating model. This was the first time the team had been deeply involved in strategy articulation and what resulted was a clear sense of alignment and commitment to delivering the new vision.

With workshop facilitation and one-to-one support, we guided the team in building the IT Operating Plan breaking down the IT strategy into manageable components with measurable outcomes and accountability on how the strategy would be implemented. It included:

  • Strategic themes
  • Assumptions & Risks
  • Key initiatives
  • Interdependencies & Milestones
  • Budget requirements
  • People implications
  • System implications
  • KPIs and performance governance

To help build commitment, our approach ensured that the team were fully involved and engaged throughout the process recognising that a document outlining strategy and plans is just one component of successful change. The historical ‘blame’ focus gently shifted to ‘improve’. The team started to depersonalise failures recognising the difference between their ‘roles’ and their ‘souls’. These two shifts resulted in a more cohesive team dynamic and a defined set of operating principles on the way they would work and behave, together as a team and with their customers.