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Finning (UK) is the sole distributor of Caterpillar equipment. Hewden Stuart is the largest equipment rental business in the UK.

Collinson Grant was asked to investigate the opportunity of integrating the back-office functions of the two businesses. Both had grown significantly through acquisition. Those in Finning (UK) had been closely integrated. Those in Hewden Stuart had not.

A three-month review formulated conclusions for each function. A number of changes and initiatives commenced. However, the largest back-office function, Finance, was not felt to be appropriate for integration at the time, owing to the complexity of Hewden Stuart and to the more mature, ‘process-led' approach within Finning (UK). Instead, we recommended Hewden Stuart to harmonise the accounting processes, simplify the legal and organisational structures and rationalise the locations. The inherited IT infrastructure, applications and hardware would also need to be assessed.

The aim was to make Finance more efficient, effective and simple. This complex project comprised a number of interconnected work-streams: Legal Entities; Commercial; Purchasing; Property; Organisation; and Business Systems. We led a full-time team of five plus a similar number of contractors to develop the programme of work. A single legal entity was created and unified financial processes implemented at both accounting centres. There were other priorities:

  • financial ledgers were collapsed into a consolidated, cleansed version of the bespoke financial ledger system
  • offices were re-furbished and the IT and telecom infrastructures overhauled and upgraded
  • new staff and reassigned roles led to the creation of single functions on single sites, rather than duplicate functions on two sites
  • the new management team, 50% of whom were new to Hewden, started to develop a programme of continuous improvement.

As Project Manager, we supported each work-stream and:

  • facilitated the Project Steering Group working closely with the Sponsor and Project Owner
  • ensured that detailed plans and review mechanisms were in place throughout the project
  • worked closely with the supporting functions in Hewden that were contributing to the project, for example - Human Resources, Business Systems
  • facilitated the assessment and mitigation of risk
  • forecast and tracked costs, resources and benefits.

The project met its targets for time, cost and quality. There was little disruption to daily operations. This was a highly risky project in a transaction-intensive environment.