Newspaper publishers Associated Newspapers has completed the reorganisation of its IT divisions across its local newspaper group and national paper's publisher to create an independent service provider to internal divisions and other publishing companies. A&N Media IT Services, fronted by CIO David Henderson supplies IT services to the Northcliffe local newspaper group and Associated Newspapers, both of which are part of the Daily Mail and General Trust company as well as IT services to the Independent and Evening Standards newspapers.

David Henderson, formerly IT Director of the Northcliffe local newspaper group said the group serves all the Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) divisions, as well as the Aberdeen Post in Scotland as well as two independent newspapers that are located in the same west London office as DMGT.

"The biggest challenge has been that we have 300 people who have not had to write service level agreements (SLAs) and we have had to become very customer and facing," he said. IT users from with DMGT are having to come to terms with dealing with, effectively, a separate company now, that also has to serve the IT needs of other newspapers. Henderson has introduced a series of workshops to enable the culture change and a consultants have developed a new organisational map for the organisation.

Unlike many CIOs, Henderson is hiring as he looks to bolster his team with experts in business relationships.
The major change in strategy was announced in October 2008 when DMGT said the merging of all its IT operations would "optimise on-going systems support and development" and that Associated CIO Ian Cohen would leave. Cohen had been CIO of the Financial Times before joining DMGT.

Henderson said the significant change in strategy was made possible because of the wide support he received from the DMGT board.

The Independent Newspaper moved into the Kensington headquarters of DMGT in a ground breaking move that sees the newspaper outsource its back office functions to the DMGT company but retain and focus on its editorial teams. The Evening Standard, formerly a DMGT newspaper was sold in January 2009, but like the Independent remains at the DMGT offices with all back office, including IT, being taken care of by DMGT.

Henderson said his IT operating budget was 15 per cent lower than previous years, but the management continued to invest in IT and he has not seen his capex budget decrease. "We are doing less projects in terms of new developments, but more projects towards merging systems, so for example there is now one CRM system rather than three. We will have a single view of the truth, which saves millions and time because there is a single architecture on single standards."

DMGT publishes the Metro and London Lite free newspapers, a wide range of local newspapers as part of its Northcliffe organisation and the Daily Mail national newspaper. It also has significant investments in commercial broadcasting and business-to-business publishing company Euromoney.