BAE Systems, the global defence and aerospace specialist, was one of the best performing companies on the FTSE last year, with £15 billion in sales and showing all the signs of a strong financial position. It made a number of strategic acquisitions and sales and is now developing its IT business in the US federal government space.

Chris Coupland, director of IT and e-business, says it has been a great year for the business and for the IT organisation. “Having successfully carried out the programme to get the business back to growth, we are now focused on IT giving the business extra capability and on supporting the business.”

The company has operations across five continents, customers in 130 countries, and employs around 100,000 people.

Last year was busy for the IT team. After selling Selenia Communications and a majority interest in SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems UK to Finmeccanica of Italy, it needed to separate IT services for the two from BAE Systems. This was a complex programme affecting some 5,000 employees and involved the creation of a new IT infrastructure, the migration of 500 servers, 7,000 devices and hundreds of applications. The team also completed the upgrade of nearly 40,000 PCs to XP.

“This full scale housekeeping has meant we have been able to address issues like applications – rationalising them from 17,000 to less than 1,300 – and storage,” says Coupland. “Although there were difficult issues at the mid-point of the programme, the legacy will be robust, standard systems that are easier to support, cost less to maintain and give us far more flexibility.”

The company also increased its e-business transactions last year. Exostar, the aerospace and defence industry’s online trading exchange, which includes BAE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Rolls-Royce and some 18,000 suppliers, is now carrying out a million transactions a month.

In the year ahead Coupland’s team will continue with company-wide ERP platform re-engineering, project managing the new outsourcing contract with CSC, and addressing MoD and DoD requirements for the next generation security model, which will incorporate identity management. It will also evaluate MPLS, already used in the US, for the rest of the company.