Home Retail Group

Retail & Wholesale: Value Driven IT Asset Management

Home Retail Group (HRG) is one of the UK’s leading general merchandise retailers with an annual turnover in excess of £5.5 billion, employing over 30,000 people across 840 outlets within the UK and Ireland. The company was acquired by Sainsbury’s in 2016 and is home to some of the country’s best known brands, including Argos, Habitat, Bush, Alba, Chad Valley and Odina.

Daniel Begg is the group SAM Technical Specialist and has been with the firm since February 2014, and has a very small team of people helping him to manage the SAM function for the entire HRG group. From a Software Asset Management perspective HRG is a large and complex organisation, which has grown through a combination of organic growth and acquisition.

As a result, the range of vendors currently being managed by Daniel and his team encompasses a broad and diverse spectrum including Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, IBM and Microfocus. According to Daniel, “Given our limited internal capacity, and the ever expanding number of software vendors being added to our portfolio, the scale of risks the business faces is constantly changing and we needed to ensure the firm is protected from the potentially punitive commercial risks that vendor audits attempt to enforce upon end clients.


Rigorous Evaluation Process

In the summer of 2015, HRG decided to engage a SAM managed service provider, for an initial 12 month trial period to provide additional expert resources to augment the internal team. “Before making the decision to appoint Livingstone, we undertook a rigorous evaluation process and reviewed the capabilities of eight potential firms. I have been in the business of Software Asset Management for many years and have worked with, or alongside most of the firms we looked at. I knew exactly what the business needed and wanted to ensure that the chosen provider could meet our exacting requirements, not only from the SAM perspective but from the point of view of security as well”.


Multi-Business Function Decision

Although Daniel oversaw the evaluation process, the HRG SAM selection committee comprised representatives from six business functions within the firm including the SAM team, security, procurement, IT, commercial management and finance. He continued. “The SAM managed service capabilities RFP we produced was very comprehensive, incorporating the precise requirements of every aspect of the HRG business. However, after a very thorough evaluation of all the responses we received, overall, Livingstone came out on top because they were able to demonstrate they could provide a comprehensive package of capabilities that met our combined needs, and as a result, the HRG committee agreed that they were the best people for the job”.


Strategic Decision Making

“Since we engaged with Livingstone their insights and experience has proved invaluable. For example, they provide a valuable sounding board in relation to tactics and strategies during the audit process and provide objective counter arguments to ensure that we make the best possible decisions. As one would expect, because of HRG’s divesture and acquisition activities we are engaged in a number of audits which Livingstone assist us with, in addition to the usual two to three others we expect each year, simply due to the size and complexity of the estate.

In this area they have really helped us to be fully prepared for a number of significant vendor audit activities. They have also enabled us to confirm the sizing of our maintenance contracts and assist in new negotiations to reduce renewal costs and understand the details within the maintenance costs and potential future costs for our vendor roadmaps and forecasting.


Expert Advice

Daniel continues, “And it does not end there as their expert team is always just a telephone call away. To be effective and proactive, it is vital we have access to objective and independent advice and I believe I get this from Livingstone. I really enjoy talking with them to kick around ideas, whether it’s exploring new ways to get the best out of our overall software investments or reviewing activities such as cloud migration strategies etc., I always get results”.


Depth & Breadth Of Experience

A proven and robust customer service capability was also a key factor in HRG’s decision to select Livingstone and Daniel rates the firm very highly in this area. “The people are easy to deal with and I trust them which is very important to me,” he said. “Good SAM skills are extremely hard to come by in this industry, but with Livingstone this is not a problem as they have a depth and breadth of experience within the firm. This means we always have almost ‘on demand’ access to relevant skills, as and when we need them, and I don’t need to worry about having to find and hire, hard to find, people”.


It’s All About Value

Daniel is a big supporter of a managed service approach and appreciates the value he gets from the Livingstone managed service team. “From my perspective it’s all about value, because when it comes down to it, a tool is just a tool. My own personal experience has shown, that to do SAM properly, every business needs much more than tools alone. I also need to know that I have access to an experienced and professional team, who understand my needs and can fully support my SAM development goals whatever they may be. Livingstone satisfies these requirements” he concluded.

Whether it is through organic growth, internal development or implementing bleeding edge technology to keep them at the forefront of the retail market. The HRG business is constantly evolving, and with it, so does the SAM business function. The relationship between Daniel and his team and Livingstone is also developing, as they learn from each other, and share a joint vision to consistently deliver a value driven approach to the business of IT, Software and Cloud Asset Management.

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