Smiths Group – IT Shared Services

The challenge

The CIO of Smiths, a global technology company listed on the London Stock Exchange, was driving the creation of a shared services IT facility for the group’s five divisions. The aim was to improve efficiencies, leverage third-party supplier relationships and support group-wide efforts to achieve a £100m reduction in operating costs within two years. This ambitious target reflected the new CEO’s desire to future proof IT for acquisitions and divestments along with a commitment to develop customer service and IT thought leadership, consolidate IT services and save £15m from IT operating costs

Smiths needed a bold and engaging partner with exceptional stakeholder management skills and a relentless delivery focus, who would inspire and push them to succeed and help them deliver. Ignite was that partner.

The result

Ignite equipped the shared global IT group, Business Information Services (BIS), to become a high-performing customer services focused business and enabled:


  • successful delivery of the targeted £15million operating cost savings within a two-year period
  • severance costs to be delivered £400k under the transformation budget
  • a 40% headcount reduction over 18 months through the introduction of new systems, processes, structures and ways of working
  • the effective onboarding of AT&T and Capgemini as outsourced providers
  • the wider Smiths business recognising the success of the BIS transformation, prompting the launch of further group-wide shared service programmes
  • the capability to shape and deliver changes of this nature to be embedded in the internal delivery teams.

What made it successful

  • Clarity of vision – we ran a creative, engaging and business-focused session involving the existing divisional IT executives who would later become the leadership team for the global function. Using insight around the best visions from history we facilitated the development of a crisp vision that would underpin a two-year transformation journey to align divisional, group and BIS strategic imperatives.
  • An unrelenting focus on outcomes – through the right balance of rigour and flexibility we dealt with every hurdle, block and challenge that was thrown in the way and found a creative solution that would keep the benefits case on track
  • Exceptional stakeholder engagement – we developed partnerships with divisional HR teams, local managing directors and other influential stakeholders, who could provide feedback and act as change champions for the programme. With persistent, pro-active efforts to continually engage stakeholders in the divisions and provide a steady flow of information that took account of their individual viewpoints we managed to turn sceptics into committed supporters of the ambitions for the programme