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When modular building business Portakabin's CEO outlined an aggressive five-year growth plan across Europe, the company realised its legacy infrastructure was no longer up to the task and turned to Dutch services firm Getronics.

The company, which most famously manufactures toilets, felt that IT had become a hindrance rather than an enabler. IT had been implemented years ago but had not kept pace with the growth of the company, and it wasn't at the right level to complement the new, aggressive strategy. The 50-year-old construction company, which has a turnover of about £300 million and employs roughly 1,700 staff, needed a change.

"We want to double our enterprise value within the next five years," Dominic Ruscillo, IT director for Portakabin, tells Computerworld UK. "A big part of that is IT and digitalisation of our processes, and the way we go to market and interact with customers and suppliers."

To achieve this, Portakabin rolled out a new CRM system that would help it better target customers – previously, the company had 12 siloed units – and another was enlisting the help of Getronics for IT services.

"For that part of the project we'll be moving everything to do with our data centres and core systems to Getronics' data centres," says Ruscillo. "They'll be helping us roll out a workspace as a service across all of our in-excess of 100 sites and 1,700 users across Europe."

This scheme kicked off in January 2017, but the two began their talks about a partnership at the start of 2016.

"We realised one of our successes would be to appoint and work with a group of strategic partners," Ruscillo explains. "We went through a rigorous selection process – we had Getronics come through that and worked with us in rolling out and helping us define our new CRM system. That went live on the 16th of January this year."

The company also looked at CGI and SCC, but ultimately settled on Getronics for the "collaboration that they showed with us," Ruscillo says.

"The solution could have been bought from anywhere so what became important to us was the partnership, the team collaboration," he explains. "They had the calibre of expertise we were looking for – our outsourcing strategy isn't one of cutting costs and trying to find efficiencies, it's one of preparing for growth."

The York-based company also found it helpful that Getronics had a sizeable presence across Europe, where Portakabin is seeking to expand.

This is the largest IT overhaul Portakabin has ever had to take and it will include a complete upgrade of legacy systems, aiming to make these best-in-class.

"We're starting from the business requirement and business strategy and we're designing systems and processes around that, rather than doing a like-for-like upgrade on legacy systems," Ruscillo says. "We're doing a wholesale change of it where required."

The feedback so far has been positive. Network speeds have visibly improved, and so has the general functionality of the company's IT systems.

"This is quite exciting for our users because for several years now the weakness has always been the IT functionality that's never really kept pace," he says. "We are cleaning all that up and bringing that right up to date using the latest technology. Our end users always found it a bit of a chore to use the old systems in the office. These systems are much more usable and we're getting more productivity out of them."

Portakabin hopes to measure the success of the rollout with a few key metrics. The company has built some KPIs into the system to keep an eye on business process and waste, as well as looking for improved response times and the redeployment of skills where they're no longer required.

"We're also looking at growth in our sales and customer base," Ruscillo says. "The two areas are efficiencies and growth – we've set out some dashboards to measure that over the next five years from the day of implementation."

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