Compass Group

A foundation for the future

How Keytree helped Compass Group bring its employees closer together and build an IT foundation for the future with the Connect employee portal.

Compass Group is the leading provider of contract catering and support services in the UK and Ireland, with revenue of £1.8 billion in the year to 30 September 2013. The company employs 100,000 people across the UK and Ireland and its operations span approximately 10,000 sites.

“People always expect IT projects like this to falter at the gate, but Connect went live on schedule, on budget and it just worked”

Steve Foxen-Durnien – Project Manager at Compass Group

Bringing the company closer together

“We’re good at a lot of things,” says Steve Foxen-Durnien, Project Manager at Compass Group, “but with 100,000 colleagues communicating with everyone is always going to be a challenge.”

To communicate with its nationwide workforce, Compass Group wanted an up-to-date intranet and one easily accessible place for all of the company’s systems, to promote collaboration across business silos and a better way of working. The plan, therefore, was to build an employee portal using IBM WebSphere Portal and Content Management Suites, then  deploy this in parallel with IBM’s “Connections” social collaboration platform.

“To its credit, Keytree stepped in as we waved goodbye to another supplier. They stuck with it and they delivered more than we ever expected. We got a bigger, sexier car than we expected to buy when we went into the showroom without spending any more money”

Steve Foxen-Durnien – Project Manager at Compass Group

The Keytree solution

Compass had partnered with Keytree previously, working together to develop its user-friendly SAP workflow and procurement system, iApprove, which went on to win a SAP quality award, so the partnership was built on strong foundations. Compass wanted its own look and feel for the portal. “We knew Keytree would bring the creative flair we were looking for,” says Steve. “Keytree’s user interface guy is an absolute star – he brought some really useful insights.”

Keytree built the infrastructure, configuring the servers in Compass’s data centre; created the information architecture and design templates; and developed the portal, designing a bespoke user interface. Going live in May 2014, Compass had almost 5,000 people register in the first week with less than 100 helpdesk calls, “most of which were people who had just forgotten their National Insurance number!” says Steve. “As an IT project manager, it’s perfect when a project goes live so smoothly.”

The Connect portal can be accessed anytime, anywhere by Compass’s employees. Because it is accessible via the internet, not the company’s own network, employees don’t need a company computer or access to the company’s systems to log in. They can use their own PCs, phones and tablets.

Results & benefits

“Compass has traditionally just been seen by employees as the company behind their payslip,” says Steve. “But having the Connect portal brings them a little bit closer and makes for a more compelling employer value proposition.”

Steve hopes that Connect will become central to the working day of Compass employees, coming into the office and firing it up as the first port of call, but he is already seeing people taking to it and collaborating across business silos.

“It’s really surpassed the company’s expectations,” says Steve. “We never used to invest much into the user experience, so we were good at producing functionally rich IT systems that weren’t always pleasing to look at.

But nowadays users are brought up on Apple and Google; they expect everything to be pretty and easy to use. The Connect portal’s a real change for us: in terms of stability and user satisfaction, it couldn’t be better.”

But this is just the first step in the right direction. The Connect portal wasn’t intended to simply cut costs or save time; it was about creating the foundations for better business.

“Connect is a step towards the future. We’ll start moving all of our systems to the portal and everything we do will be on Connect. Reconciling books, pay, stock control – everything. It’s the foundation for all of our employee-facing IT systems.”

Steve Foxen-Durnien – Project Manager at Compass Group