BCS IT Industry Awards: Organisational Excellence

Fife Council, the winner of this year's Public Sector Organisation award, was selected by the judges as an outstanding example of best practice in delivery of a large-scale IT transformation project.

The seven awards that make up the Organisational Excellence section of the BCS IT Industry Awards recognise the contribution made to an organisation's success by the IT department and the systems they use.

Public Sector Organisation of the Year

Fife Council, the winner of this year's Public Sector Organisation award, was selected by the judges as an outstanding example of best practice in delivery of a large-scale IT transformation project.

Fife, the third largest authority in Scotland, impressed the judges with its recent completion of a £21m programme to replace its telephone system across its sites, implementing voice over IP and upgrading its entire computer network.

The project involved replacing more than 12,000 phones in more than 360 sites, providing alternative systems to a further 98 sites, upgrading communications circuits to achieve extra bandwidth, improving Lan/Wan resilience, replacing switches in schools across Fife, and cabinet and power upgrade works throughout council buildings.

John Higgins, director general of Intellect and chair of the judging panel, explains, "This was a great example of best practice. The council recognised that a telephone replacement project offered an opportunity to meet a number of wider business drivers and created an effective service transformation programme that delivered business benefits to budget in three rather than five years."

Medallists in this category were North Tyneside Council ICT Service and HM Land Registry.

Commercial and Financial Sector Organisation of the Year

Described by the judges as using IT to help it lead the market, Norwich & Peterborough Building Society (N&P) collected the Commercial and Financial Sector Organisation of the Year Award.

Formed in 1986, N&P offers a range of financial services, including a strong commercial lending operation, and has about 1,000 employees.

On the back of regulatory changes, N&P developed a risk-based individual pricing structure for borrowers that provides benefits including quick process time, bespoke personal rates, and an application that is assessed and approved at the point of sale.

The project introduced agile practices such as daily "scrums" and weekly meetings aligning business needs and IT focus. This flexible approach allowed refinements to be made incorporating broker and staff feedback during the build process.

Higgins says, "Norwich & Peterborough Building Society has demonstrated excellent innovation in response to European regulation of its market and implemented new products that delight its customers while reducing risk to the society. IT was an integral component in enabling the company to lead the market."

Medallists in this category were Standard Life and Morgan Est.

IT Consultancy of the Year

The award for IT Consultancy of the Year went to Xantus Consulting, an independent consultancy offering advice on commercial, technological and business issues.

In making the award, judges were looking for evidence of the contributions made by the consultancy to the success of the client's business through the use of the supplier's products and services.

Xantus impressed the judges with its ability to deliver projects for clients across the globe, providing true business benefits and in many cases significant savings. Projects included the development of new IT environments, delivery of a satellite network infrastructure, and the replacement of obsolete technology.

The company prides itself on building good working relationships with clients, and several have given the consultancy "trusted adviser" status. This means they rely on Xantus to bring breadth and depth of market and supplier knowledge while remaining independent, ensuring that advice is based on what is the right strategic direction for their business.

Xantus customer satisfaction levels gained through regular surveys show that 96% of its clients are either satisfied or "delighted" with its work.

Higgins says, "Xantus provides its clients with sound, impartial advice on commercial, technological and business issues, enabling them to fully realise strategic benefits. Its services and skills are tailored to address the complex challenges of today's CIOs."

Medallists in this category were The Structure Group and Wipro Technologies.

SME of the Year

For helping organisations transform their business through e-commerce, the SME of the Year Award was presented to Portal Technology Systems.

The technology consultancy focuses on the design, implementation and integration of e-commerce, content management and portal systems. It has delivered more than 200 internet and intranet projects for companies including Royal Mail, Post Office, Premier Farnell, The Body Shop and Johnson & Johnson.

Portal Technology Systems handled the development of Royal Mail's online stamp - the biggest single e-business project for the Royal Mail Group since its web portal was launched in 2000. The challenging project was delivered on time and to budget and has proved a huge success in terms of the business benefits it has brought Royal Mail.

The company places itself at the forefront of the e-commerce business and seeks out innovative software, customising and integrating it to create e-business solutions that allow clients to break new ground in the service they offer to customers.

The judges were impressed by Portal Technology Systems' technical capabilities and its ability to compete as an SME alongside larger organisations to win major contracts. It achieves this through its reputation for technical excellence, innovative systems and the ability to deliver complex projects on time and to budget. This is combined with a reputation for excellent customer relationship management.

Higgins says, "This organisation really punches above its weight. The judges were impressed by the scale and business impact of the projects carried out by the company, in particular the online stamps system for Royal Mail."

Medallists in this category were ProCheckUp and Tideway.

Large Technology Supplier of the Year

Neural Technologies was named Large Technology Supplier of the Year for its commitment to customer service and innovative technology.

The risk management software provider has pioneered neural technology and advanced analytics to help organisations reduce losses and optimise revenue in the areas of fraud, collections, bad debt, customer attrition and revenue assurance.

Higgins says, "We were impressed by Neural Technologies' ground-breaking implementation of fraud detection technologies within the satellite broadcasting market."

Implemented ahead of schedule, the project employed an innovative technology called Minotaur, a system that combines traditional rules and threshold-based detection techniques with neural behavioural modelling and neural predictive analytics.

Neural behavioural modelling is used to profile the behaviour of customers. Unique profiles are automatically learned for each customer and evolve to reflect any changes in normal behaviour. In this way any anomalous and unusual activity is easily recognised.

Neural predictive analytical models are developed using specific rather than generic data: this is a vital factor because it makes them highly relevant and accurate. An organisation's own historical data, with known outcomes, is used to "train" the neural computer to learn patterns and characteristics within the data. These patterns are then used to create models that can differentiate between fraudulent and genuine applications.

The company was also commended for its comprehensive approach to customer service, providing the client with continuous on-site support, which played a key role in bringing together the whole team and maintaining momentum and focus on the business and IT goals.

Medallists in this category were Sun Microsystems and McKesson.

GCS Women in IT award

Goldman Sachs International collected the GCS Women in IT Award in recognition of its initiatives to increase the number of women it employs in IT roles over the past five years, at a time when the overall number of women working in IT is falling.

The investment bank introduced a range of initiatives to boost the number of female IT staff, including recruitment and retention policies.

There are also active networks encouraging and supporting women in IT in their career progression. These include the European Women in Technology network established in 2001, the Women's Leadership and Management Conference and Career Development Initiatives, Women's Career Strategies Initiative and the MD and VP Leadership Acceleration Initiative.

Staff benefits include flexible working, on-site back-up childcare and permanent childcare places, schools out programme for children aged 5-11 years, maternity workshops, buddy schemes and on-site nursing facilities, enhanced family leave, elder care and childcare resources, plus an on-site healthcare centre providing screening programmes and wellness seminars.

Grahame Winman, sales operations manager at GCS, says, "Goldman Sachs demonstrated the most complete range of initiatives to encourage women into IT. The results witnessed by the company in increasing the number of women employees in IT roles, at a time when the general trend is for falling numbers, is a testament to the range of initiatives adopted, including impressive outreach work."

Medallists in this category were IBM and Lloyds TSB.

Photos from the awards ceremony

Photos of the BCS IT Awards 2008 winners (part 1) >>

Photos of the BCS IT Awards 2008 winners (part 2) >>

Photos of IT folk enjoying themselves at the BCS awards dinner >>

Profiles of award winners

BT Flagship Award for Innovation winner >>

Individual Excellence Award winners >>

Project Excellence Award winners >>

Green Award winners >>

More information about the BCS IT Industry Awards can be found on the BCS awards website.

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