Appointed as Head of People and IT at frozen food producer Aunt Bessie's in early 2017, Paul Nicholson inherited a small IT function that had changed little over the years and whose main job was supporting day-to-day operations. With no real IT focus on business-enabling technologies, shadow IT was springing up everywhere, and external consultants were needed to help scope and deliver projects.

Nicholson has changed all this by defining a digital business strategy that ensures technology change within the business is aligned, efficient and delivered without fuss. Over the past 12 months Nicholson and his team have delivered a number of major projects. A new production forecasting solution has improved accuracy and given the production planning team better insight into demand. Greater digital integration with third-party logistics providers has helped cut supply chain costs and greatly reduced manual processes in manufacturing and warehousing. The integration has made it possible to implement automated trunker loading pods, further improving efficiencies.

Electronic workflow has eliminated the large quantities of printed forms used in the business. Savings in time and print costs have been significant, and accurate traceability has been provided.

The strong internal IT capability built by Nicholson's function is now allowing the company to hold its suppliers to account and ensure it gets what it needs, rather than what its suppliers want to sell it. And as a result of building internal IT capability, he can now undertake regular day-to-day DevOps projects in-house, calling on external partners for specialist projects only.

In readiness for Industry 4.0, Nicholson has been working on IoT in the factories. Over the past 12 months many more controllers and machines have been connected to the network, allowing manufacturing process data to be captured, which will soon be displayed on a dashboard using a new BI and analytics platform.