M&S takes prize for profitability at Tif's annual awards ceremony

IT managers and staff from Marks & Spencer, the bank clearing house Bacs, Cheshire County Council and East Midlands Electricity...

IT managers and staff from Marks & Spencer, the bank clearing house Bacs, Cheshire County Council and East Midlands Electricity won accolades from their peers for successful IT projects at The Corporate IT Forum's (Tif) annual awards recently.

The projects were judged best from the user group's 140-strong corporate member base by a team of IT user-manager judges for their tangible business value, innovation and for being delivered on time and to budget.

"These awards are prized because IT practitioners judge projects by their own standards, which carries so much more weight," said Tif chairman and Rolls-Royce director of business improvement, Jonathan Mitchell.

Tif thrives despite IT's poor showing >>

Project innovation award   

Winner  Bacs  

Bank clearing house Bacs won the project innovation category with its completion, on time and to budget, of the first stage of moving the central banking clearing system to an internet protocol-based model built to handle five billion transactions a year.  

The project, which involved 13 banks, 40,000 business customers, 250,000 other customers, and handling peak loads of 100 million transactions a day, took 20,000 man days to complete.  

Bacs overcame risks from lack of common standards for smartcard digital-based signatures, and everything about the project was new: hardware (Sun Microsystems); software (Oracle DBase); development tools (Java 2 Enterprise Edition, web management system); and security model.

Highly commended  East Midlands Electricity 

The power utility's engineers can respond effectively if a whirlwind brings down power cables, thanks to its new compact read-only Java-based graphics system (Crog). It enables engineers to carry diagrams of installations on portable computers, using a bespoke file format and directory structure for geographical information that stores compressed spatial data.

Business profitability award   

Winner  Marks & Spencer 

High-street retailer Marks & Spencer won the business profitability category with its web-based Collaborator system.  

This integrates supplier processes, system planning, forecasting, and replenishment and has already achieved a 4% increase in sales, four weeks reduction in stockholding, and a 40% decrease in value of holdings of reduced price stock. 

The judges were impressed by "really sound project governance, It was as much a business process change for their departments and suppliers as an IT change," they said. 

Collaborator replaces existing systems with a web-based application, giving scalability, performance and functionality.  

"Many web-based applications just add a new web front end," said one judge, "but this was much more than that."

Highly commended  Cheshire County Council's integrated business system 

The council's Oracle 11i-based integrated business system has already saved Cheshire £3m a year.  

Aided by consultancy KPMG, the enterprise resource planning project took 60 employees 18 months to migrate general ledger, inventory management, fixed assets, accounts receivable and payable, human resources and payroll from a legacy system.

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