Debenhams is close to running all of its major information systems projects using a management system from software supplier CA.

The Clarity Project & Portfolio Manager application is presently tracking about 60 change management programmes in the business and is expected to provide a return on investment within two years.

Debenhams has slashed the associated administration of running projects by up to 90 per cent. However, the real win from the system’s introduction is that it allows the retailer to identify projects that might fail or become too costly early in their lifecycle.

The goal is for all of the information systems department’s projects to be covered by the system, then Debenhams will explore how it could be used to assist with projects in other parts of the business.

Debenhams business systems controller Dominic Nash said that the retailer introduced the system because it wanted to be able to intervene early on if it looked like projects were going off track and also to keep a tight grip on project costs.

He said that without the system it is hard to make informed decisions. Since the retailer first began tracking initiatives this way about 18 months ago, Nash said that the rate of spend on a number of projects had come under scrutiny, raising questions about what those projects were achieving.

Debenhams’ entire IT management has access to the system and 140 developers, analysts, testers and support staff are managed using it. Nash said that prior to its introduction, business analysts and project managers would spend considerable time creating monthly reports. The system now takes care of much of this.

The improved visibility that the retailer has gained is also allowing the department to fit in smaller projects more quickly.

Debenhams managed most of the implementation of the system itself and Nash added that users have found it intuitive to use.