At the last count, brewing giant Foster\u2019s boasted 238 products in its ever expanding portfolio \u2014 although, interestingly, it no longer owns the eponymous \u2018amber nectar\u2019, made famous by those 1980s TV ads featuring Paul Hogan, in any market other than Australia.\nFamous for its beer brands, which include VB, Carlton Draught, Crown Lager and Cascade, the company also owns a plethora of wine, spirit and soft drink brands, including Penfolds, Lindemans and Cougar Bourbon.\nA series of mergers and acquisitions by Foster\u2019s in recent years has resulted in the group now having to manage a dizzying array of more than 350 IT systems. Senior enterprise architect at Foster\u2019s Group, Michael Davis, said the situation left the company with information stored \u201call over the place\u201d and the resulting inefficient business processes meant that it wasn\u2019t really getting the most out of the businesses it was combining.\nIt also proved to be hugely costly for the company in terms of its annual IT budget.\n\u201cTo put it into perspective, we were spending around 4 per cent of our net revenue on IT, which is obviously not good,\u201d Davis said.\nThe startling statistic prompted the enterprise architect group at Foster\u2019s, led by Davis, to devise a strategy and plan out a roadmap to address the issues.\nThe project was built in several streams \u2014 supply and demand, procurement, fulfilment and so on. Considerations such as product lifecycle management, the transformation of the company\u2019s interaction with its customers and the consolidation of 60-odd data centres were paramount in the discussions that followed.\nAnother consequence of the company\u2019s merger and acquisition activities was that it inherited five different enterprise resource planning systems, so another priority for Davis and his team was to consolidate those down to a single system across the enterprise.\nTo drive to program forward in its initial stages, the team worked to gain a common understanding of the information management in the organisation; evaluating the capabilities and aligning them correctly to execute its information management strategy.\n\u201cGaining support for data quality was also critical for us in this project,\u201d Davis recalled. \u201cAnd how you use component-based architectures for data quality, thus creating reusable assets.\u201d\nDavis realised the company would not be ready to invest in information management without a clear understanding of what the project aimed to achieve. And, with a disparate group of brands all having come together under the one banner, he was mindful of potential problems with how his ideas would be interpreted.\n\u201cThe question I asked when I came to Foster\u2019s was: \u2018Do the people I work with understand what information management is?\u2019 I was working with different groups and I had the sense that they were all talking different languages.\u201d\nIt proved to be so. Different terms within the organisation meant different things to different people. It meant aligning semantics from an organisational perspective, using a framework to communicate the capabilities and clarify the scope.\n\u201cNot many organisations have a good picture of what they has (in terms of IT systems),\u201d Davis said. \u201cIf you don\u2019t, the best place to start is your procurement group \u2014 find out what it have under licence, as you can almost guarantee that nobody else will be able to tell you.\u201d\nIt\u2019s also necessary to build a case that describes the benefits of closing the gaps in your current capabilities. Discuss the impact of the return on investment with the project sponsor.\n\u201cYou need to find the right people within your organisation,\u201d Davis said. \u201cIf you simply say, \u2018we need to improve data quality\u2019 nobody\u2019s going to listen; you need to discover the context of why data quality is important and communicate that to those who you wish to help you with the project.\u201d\nIn all likelihood, there will already be people who are concerned because they are responsible for the impact of poor quality data. They may have service level agreements or key performance indicators (KPIs) that are continually impacted by poor quality data.\nProject leaders need to calculate the quantitative benefits, identifying hard cost savings where possible and look for positive impacts on KPIs.\nA final ace up the sleeve for anybody trying to secure approval for a project, Davis said, is to look for legal and statutory risk.