The largest privately-owned IT consultancy in the UK has grown exponentially on the global stage with a uniquely Agile approach that has succeeded where others haven’t
Queen’s Award for Innovation
By Graham Lironi
When a delivery focused IT consultancy collaborated with NHS Digital to re-engineer what is known as the backbone of the NHS, ensuring an 89% reduction in system response time whilst saving £21 million in its first year, it is understandable that their skills have not gone unnoticed.
Though little known to the public at large, BJSS’ clients are including some of the world’s largest companies including investment and retail banks, large retailers, government departments, and global commodities traders.
Awards and plaudits have been showered on BJSS in recent years. Having picked the Ruban d’Honneur – the top European Business Award for two years running, in addition to making the LSE 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain list twice and being ranked in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 and Fast Track 200 reports, BJSS has now won the Queen’s Award for Innovation which recognises businesses that maintain the highest levels of business excellence.
This latest and most prestigious accolade is due to the company’s track record in its sector. Whereas large IT projects have regularly hit the headlines for either running vastly over budget or failing – or both – resulting in bitter recriminations with the person left holding the bill, BJSS has adopted an approach which means it has maintained long term strategic relationships with its clients. And that is why the company has grown from a four-man business to the largest privately-owned IT consultancy in the country complete with a global reach. In the past four years, BJSS has doubled its turnover and increased its workforce to more than 1,000. Though far from being a house-hold name, everyone in the UK will have interacted with one or more of its systems. BJSS covers a wide range of sectors including financial services, commodities, retail, healthcare, public sector, technology and media, and has achieved this by developing an innovative IT approach to delivering business benefits which has proved easier, faster and cheaper for their clients. Founded back in 1993 by Andrew Vin-cent and Mark Hunter, BJSS has built its success on an IT delivery approach called Enterprise Agile. The company’s team conceived the approach back in 2008, and since then, Enterprise Agile has gone on to play a key role in the success of BJSS. Enterprise Agile is based upon the principles first introduced by 17 IT industry experts in their 2001 ‘Manifesto for Agile Software Development”. It was the first delivery approach that enabled organisations with large and complex IT needs, but with a low risk appetite, to benefit from Agile delivery methods. BJSS achieved this by incorporating the best parts of Agile with the controls and safeguards that are required by large organisations to ensure seamless collaboration with its clients.
“We took the ideas around Agile which we liked and tackled the risky bits, building an approach that has scale. We then focused on delivering quality from start to finish” explained Glynn Robinson, MD of BJSS.
“It meant adding comfort for clients, giving them what they wanted, when they wanted it. It was a case of introducing predictability, reliability and removing the risk by getting our clients highly involved in the project all the way. And that hasn’t stopped over the last 10 years because we have continued to evolve and improve Enterprise Agile by incorporating the latest techniques.
”When BJSS and others first started to look at Agile it was a soft-ware developer’s playground bereft of any controls.
“Where we succeeded where others didn’t was that we took a very practitioner led approach, collaborating with our clients and working within the framework of their organisation” says Glynn Robinson.
And it has obviously worked. Since it was introduced, Enterprise Agile has been the primary delivery method for several hundred BJSS engagements across multiple industry sectors in the UK and USA. This is because the approach allows BJSS to understand the cost, time and effort that is required for each individual delivery which, in turn, means that it can confidently commit to client delivery deadlines and guarantee high levels of delivery reliability.
At the same time, because of the short development cycles, clients in turn can more cost effectively and rapidly introduce new features to their IT systems. This was obviously something that the NHS found appealing about Enter-prise Agile as NHS Digital collaborates closely with BJSS, allowing for this level of innovation to be applied to their other systems.
BJSS results speak for themselves
Charles Webb, Head of IT Delivery at Waitrose, who used Enterprise Agile as the method to deliver several innovations across his organisation commented:
“BJSS introduced a more efficient delivery process enabling us to confidently deploy changes across all Waitrose stores in a fraction of the time and with greatly improved quality.
”Over a 14-week engagement, the Royal Bank of Scotland used Enterprise Agile to deliver a Quality Assurance and Testing programme to rapidly integrate with Apple Pay across a range of issuers, schemes and merchants.
By using the techniques defined by Enterprise Agile, RBS became the only “Big Four” bank able to support Apple Pay on the day.
Enterprise Agile also delivered a complete re-engineering of the Sky Sporting Life service. Delivered in time for the Cheltenham Festival, Sky Betting & Gaming’s, Andrew Evans, said: “Enterprise Agile has ensured that our Sportinglife.com service is scalable, high- performance and feature-rich, allowing us to quickly provide compelling sporting content to our customers.”