Though newspaper publishers may have sleepless nights worrying about the long term impact of the internet on their business model, there is no doubt it is still a hugely profitable business for the bigger players.

Take Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), a 7,000 strong, £450 million turnover organisation that publishes middle England’s favourite read.

Northcliffe Media is a subsidiary of the group, operating 18 publishing centres and publishing more than 100 titles in the UK, including 20 daily regional papers, 30 paid-for weeklies and more than 50 free weekly newspapers.

Central command

But there comes a price from having so many businesses scattered around the country: a lack of central control. Dave Henderson, CIO at Northcliffe, is knee-deep in a major rationalisation of help desk resources as a starting point to restore order.

“We’re moving from having a number of local and disparate systems to a policy based on group standards,” he told CIO UK. He is not exaggerating when he says there has been a proliferation of IT resources in his organisation. As part of his current reorganisation 20 local help desks are being consolidated into a single, central system, using technology from CA. Email and all publishing systems are to be standardised at the same time.

The payback

A number of benefits are anticipated from the consolidation, not least of which is a projected saving of 40 per cent on licence costs. There will also be saving on IT operations because of easier maintenance and simplified training costs through the use of a single system. So far, Northcliffe says that translates to over £400,000.

Eventually the payback could be as much as six figures, an excellent ROI for the £130,000 original investment in the service desk software.

Henderson, who leads the current 180 strong IT team, is unfazed by the challenge – indeed, that is what he was looking for when he joined Northcliffe from his previous senior IT role at Littlewoods Gaming.

“I came here because of the scale of the job to be done,” he says.

"Our business is to deliver quality products on time, day after day, without fail. An effective and transparent IT operation is absolutely critical for a successful media operation"

Dave Henderson, CIO, Northcliffe Media

The service desk project is half way through its 18-month implementation cycle. “The main benefits are speed, cost and basically just being able to things better,” he says.

“We can cut time to initiate new projects, our risk management is better and having a centralised model is a much more efficient way of doing things.”

Happy users

Henderson says that user satisfaction has been raised because it is now much easier to track calls and requests for action through standardised systems. “Our business is to deliver quality products on time, day after day, without fail. An effective and transparent IT operation is absolutely critical for a successful media operation,” he says.