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A Staff Profile in Tech: Andrew Allen

Andrew Allen works with SDL Surveying as the Continuous Improvement and Supplier Relationship Manager

What does the continuous improvement and supplier relationship manager do?

The best way to describe this is to break the job role into two sections, with a little more added that falls outside of this.

So, continuous improvement:
Analyse, maintain, and investigate current organisational systems and processes from an IT perspective with the aim of providing solutions and improvements to the business. Also making sure any new systems/processes are tested before being rolled out and then providing the training to the business where required.

Supplier relationship manager:
Assess all IT supplier’s capability to meet our contractual needs, measure their performance with supplier reviews, to work with them to identify challenges whilst looking to improve the working relationship. Whilst ensuring you have the right levels of contact for the relationship to remains on track for both parties, in order to get the best from the working relationship.

That little bit more:
Last but not least, a very important part of my role is to manage the IT budget. Preparing the budget ready for the start of the financial year and then managing this on a monthly basis, creating reports for the senior IT personnel and reporting to them monthly.

How does this role benefit a business?

In so many different ways, with a continuous improvement hat on it provides a very important, strong and healthy link between IT and all business areas, keeping everyone informed of all the IT changes, processes, and requirements. This also enables me to find areas of the business IT could assist with in terms of providing new solutions and solutions for existing systems/processes or problem areas.

When it comes to supplier relationships it is vital to keep IT costs managed to make sure the business is getting the best pricing and value for money, if not kept in check IT costs can spiral very quickly. Maintaining great relationships with suppliers is crucial for business it allows you to have open conversations over pricing, billing, and any concerns you have with their service. It also opens channels for collaborative working in relation to projects getting valuable 3rd party assistance.

What technologies to you use to ensure you can do your job?

This is going to sound a little strange with me being in the IT world but, on a daily basis to do my job, not a great deal. I use the standard stuff, Excel, Outlook, Teams, Word, PowerPoint.
I do have a few applications that have been built for me by our internal teams to assist in administrating contracts and budgeting, you won’t find these out there in the market they are bespoke applications to my design.

Where I do get involved in different technologies a lot is when we are bringing something new to the business or trialling something, whether that be an external product or built in-house. I will spec it out, trial and test it; my background in IT and methodical testing really comes into play then.

How did you get to where you are now?

It has been a varied journey that’s for sure, plenty of ups and downs and hard work. From leaving school and working in the building trade, to where it all started as a temp at Direct Valuations 17 years ago in the surveyor management department.

Along the way I worked in the call centre and on different lender teams, customer relations, then over to IT support 1st and 2nd line, then managing the support desk to end up where I am now. Working in all the areas of the business and picking up different skills along the way has set me in good stead for where I am now.

What has made you stay at MSS for so long?

17 years, most of my adult life, has been at SDL Surveying. During this time, I have experienced all the milestones in life and dealt with all the ups and downs life throws at us. And through all that time I have been supported in my career and in my personal life no matter what area of the business I worked in or who my colleagues and manager at the time were.

That is massive for me, and I am sure for many other employees of SDL Surveying the way we are all treated and the culture within the business. I have been given the opportunity to grow my skill set at every step along the way with just the right balance of guidance and freedom, and I have no doubt if this wasn’t the case I would not be where I am today.
Last but not least, I have touched on it briefly, the people here are great in every area of the organisational chart, you want support, guidance, help or just a chat you get it without fail.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given and how have you implemented it?

Don’t stay in your comfort zone.

A really simple piece of advice I received from my early days at SDL Surveying from a manager. I got to grips really quickly with my role and instead of pushing on I just maintained the level and didn’t look to progress; I just became comfortable and eventually got bored and my productivity decreased. My manager took me to one side and simply said “Don’t stay in your comfort zone”.

That was all that was needed for me, I took it on board and from then on, I applied that to every task or position I have had. Always wanting to do more, to know more, to be more in my role. From time to time as everyone does you become comfortable when that happens, I remember those words and push on.

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