Palmer and Harvey was one of the leading UK wholesale distributors. Established 90 years ago, it has a £4billion turnover, 15 regional depots, and a fleet of 1000 vehicles which serve more than 88,000 UK retail outlets.
Palmer and Harvey is seeking to optimise processes and drive efficiencies within the business. One of the areas identified under this initiative was to build and migrate to a more robust intranet platform to manage its HR processes and internal communications, in line with the CEO’s vision for the business.
‘Colleagues’ at Palmer and Harvey had been using a rudimentary system called ‘The Hub’, based on Microsoft Silverlight, which they were increasingly finding difficult to navigate and use, besides lacking some of the capabilities they were looking for. This had led them to stop using The Hub and use paper-based processes instead. This manual approach made relatively simple tasks very time-consuming and very labour intensive. It also meant these tasks lacked cohesion as they would be forgotten about when certain staff left and new ones joined.
Palmer and Harvey’s team decided that a new intranet was required to tackle these issues, streamline HR processes, and improve workforce engagement. The wholesale distributor’s aim was to use technologies to automate processes and provide remote mobile access to colleagues and to improve engagement across the whole business, including remote depots and warehouses.
Under one strand of Palmer and Harvey’s ‘People and Communities Strategy’, the new intranet was not intended to be just a corporate communications tool, but also an interactive colleague community portal which would share information about CSR activities and fun events, and even provide colleagues with an area to buy and sell their possessions.
Palmer and Harvey realised early on that it did not have the inhouse capabilities to effectively manage this as an end-to-end programme of work right from initially engaging with the business and defining appropriate business and technology outcomes, to structuring and delivering a technical solution in a cost-effective manner aligned with these outcomes, to eventually working with key stakeholders to implement the solution and deliver a solid return on investment. Crimson, being its main IT consultancy provider, was therefore approached to help design and deliver a suitable solution against these needs.
Crimson collaborates with Ignitho, a digital technology solutions company focussed on accelerating frugal technology innovation for enterprises, on a joint initiative called Virtuoso, an exciting dynamic new outcome-based approach to outsourced application development and maintenance for mid-market enterprises. Virtuoso ensures rapid access to breakthrough thinking from industry peers, local programme and project management rigour, access to an international IT talent pool and a blended delivery approach.
Crimson and Ignitho were confident of delivering the desired outcomes for Palmer and Harvey at a competitive price, whereby Crimson and Ignitho programme management consultants would work domestically side-by-side with the client in the UK, whilst leveraging Ignitho’s team in India to technically build the solution.
The Virtuoso team held several workshops with Palmer and Harvey’s internal stakeholders to establish requirements. It then created an effective strategy that would bring about business change through technology, and ensure seamless and systematic adoption of the new intranet.
This process was iterative, conversational, and agile with ideas and developments being refined based on feedback from Palmer and Harvey’s team.
An open-source intranet platform called Joomla was chosen, because of its ability to integrate with Palmer and Harvey’s Active Directory and payroll systems. It was rapidly developed to drive the wholesale distributor’s active colleague database. The platform has also been developed to be fully responsive so that it could be accessed by all colleagues from a variety of devices, helping to drive adoption and engagement.
User workshops were then held to promote the new system throughout the organisation and ensure wide-spread adoption.
The Joomla intranet solution created by the Virtuoso collaboration team is now helping to support a cultural shift amongst Palmer and Harvey’s 3,500 colleagues in the UK.