NOTE: In January of 2020, Hitachi Consulting and Hitachi Vantara began integrating and will operate as a combined company under the Hitachi Vantara organization.
Pete Brown is a man accustomed to leading the delivery of complex technical projects and programs. In fact, he has over 20 years experience doing just that. But few of those have had as tight a timeline as his first major project as Head of Business Change for the UK’s leading managed pub and restaurant operator, Mitchells & Butlers (M&B).
Pete was challenged to ensure the introduction of a new collaboration portal took place within the schedule the group CEO had announced to shareholders. In practice, that meant delivering a user-friendly solution across 1,600 outlets and thousands of employees within just 12 weeks.
The portal was the last phase of a wider business improvement program known as “Good to Great”, focused on digital transformation. It was designed to streamline and where possible automate time-consuming manual tasks, such as regulatory and performance reporting and revolutionize information flow across the business.
With the support of Hitachi Consulting, Pete and the M&B team delivered a SharePoint and Business Intelligence solution supporting over 1,600 pubs and restaurants, plus several tiers of management, in record time. In just one year, it has tangibly transformed the way M&B works.
In the hospitality sector, the key to lasting success is ensuring that guests have a great experience — so they stay longer, and want to return. At Mitchells & Butlers, the company that runs many of the UK’s best-loved pub and restaurant chains, including Toby Carvery, Harvester, Nicholson’s, All Bar One and Sizzling Pubs, it was recognized that one vital aspect of a great experience is enabling employees to spend as much time as possible with guests.
Good to great
That was the guiding principle behind the company’s “Good to Great” program — a cultural change, underpinned by digital transformation. It sought to reduce the administrative burden pub and restaurant employees faced and free them to focus on ‘front of house’ duties. At the same time, it aimed to transform the way M&B’s 120-strong team of regional business managers (RBMs) worked.
The RBMs are a vital tier in the company’s operating structure. Each manages a number of pubs in a specific region, and is responsible both for reporting to the center on outlet performance and where necessary improving that performance. It had become apparent, however, that as reporting demands increased, the RBMs ended up spending too much time handling data, reducing their capacity to work with pub and restaurant managers to drive business growth.
The first stages of the “Good to Great” program had seen the introduction of a new finance system and tills, so core data could flow better through the business. But that data was still hard to manage for RBMs, and there were still a lot of time-consuming administrative tasks for the outlets themselves – such as vital food hygiene checks, which have to be conducted and reported on regularly throughout the day.