Customer Stories: St Modwen

St Modwen header

Learn how Littlefish strategically designed and roadmapped a complex, time-critical technology separation for our client, a national property investment and development firm.

Project challenge

St Modwen Properties – a British-based property investment and development firm – utilised a variety of software applications; some of which were shared across the entire group, and others dedicated to individual business units. The vast majority of these were delivered via a Software as a Service (SaaS) model directly from the software vendor rather than physical on-premises server platforms. 

In order to support the company’s strategic objectives (and potentially facilitate a future sale of the business), our client sought to separate the company’s technology landscape and IT support services into two distinct business units. 

At the time, one of these business units was reliant on the larger group for all areas of its IT service delivery, with no dedicated FTEs specifically managing its IT service from within the central team.  

To achieve the technology separation, the company commenced a rapid request for quote process based on a two-scope objective:

  • Project management and technical delivery of the technology separation (which needed to conclude in time for an expedited three-month transition of service). 
  • Provision of a business-as-usual IT managed support services model. 

For the purpose of this project spotlight, we will concentrate on the first objective, detailing Littlefish’s plan for the initial technology separation.  

Technical details 

Drawing on skills including cloud consulting, strategic and security consulting, and project planning and management, Littlefish implemented a virtual, dedicated delivery team to provide rapid design, delivery, and governance for the technology separation. We were also able to meet the client’s aggressive timeline for delivery whilst minimising downtime.  

Due to the lack of required detail in current-state documentation within the customer environment, in-depth discovery activities were carried out by Littlefish. This discovery, performed across the various IT services, captured over 350 pages of detailed information into a document that was shared with the customer and used by the consultants to plan the future-state of separation. 

Based on the requirements provided, and the existing technology landscape within the group, our target platform was Microsoft Azure public cloud, with a Microsoft 365 tenancy for collaboration services, and Microsoft Intune to manage device compliancy. Services into the Microsoft Azure cloud would be aimed initially towards SaaS, with PaaS and IaaS available if the time or licencing constraints preclude SaaS on this engagement. 

The plan required centralised governance and programme leadership, ensuring effective alignment of cross-working group dependencies, concise and timely reporting, and an agile approach which aligned with the group’s PMO governance structure. 

Our IT systems strategy was designed to fulfil three customer-stipulated objectives:  

  • Separate ‘No Regrets’ systems and data from the larger group that should have no future bearing of the sale process outcome
  • Produce a TSA Plan that shows the likely migration of services that would be determined by the sales process outcome
  • Leverage cost reduction opportunities via “right sizing” the separated systems and hardware service providers

To manage the varying degrees of complexity, coupled with a logical sequence of events, the separation of ‘no regrets systems’ was to be delivered via the following three workstreams: 

  • Workstream 1 – User security, Microsoft 365 (including email) and user documents  
  • Workstream 2 – Dedicated applications with no data migration requirements
  • Workstream 3 – Group shared applications with low complexity data migration requirements

It was decided that a small number of applications were not to be migrated until the outcome of the sales process was known, either due to being entirely replaced by new systems, or because they were deemed too complex/high risk to migrate due to the high volume of other business and technology change programmes already in-flight during this time.

Naturally, this was a large part of the complexity and planning challenges this project presented and Littlefish developed a strategic, multi-outcome decision process for the customer to identify and cater for these applications during and after the business separation.

Outcomes and benefits  

Our plan helped define and shape the client’s future-state technology landscape, fully aligning with and enabling a strong business strategy. The project was a highly collaborative experience for both Littlefish and the client with many positive comments and sentiments from both sides. 

Working with Littlefish was an immensely positive experience and they proved to be a highly knowledgeable and an incredibly collaborative IT partner.

They provided invaluable clarity and insight into our technology separation project planning, clearly linking their efforts to our core business objectives and guiding us confidently through each step of the way in a responsive and honest manner.

Robin Turton, CTO, St Modwen Properties Limited

Through building a cohesive picture of all existing and required technology capabilities across the business, Littlefish provided a single view upon which the customer could base their strategic choices and manage the separation scoping and design. Our plan enabled digital transformation towards an improved enterprise-wide IT and cyber security architecture by steering them towards cloud-based services and modern security & management design. 

Littlefish’s technology separation plan provided many benefits to the client, including capturing a detailed current state document which visualised a single and coherent high-level design of all the group’s technology. This meant the client had a clear understanding of the existing technology gaps, risks, and issues within the business and that all technology investments could be directly linked to the organisation’s business strategy.  

Furthermore, the project identified how Littlefish could leverage new technology for competitive advantage and improve data quality through data validation and improved data stewardship. 

Lastly, the project provided a joined-up plan to minimise architecture complexity and increase project delivery confidence while documenting all as-is business processes at high-level, identifying key opportunities for automation and providing a consistent approach for the organisation going forward. 

Once complete, the customer’s representative, a third-party transformation consultant, remarked: 

Absolutely amazing piece of work. Wow. Really, really impressed, so massive praise to everyone involved.

Pete Brown, Independent Digital Transformation Consultant

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