Case Study: Fractional CIO for a Food Distributing Company

July 9, 2019


In less than 10 years a food distribution company experienced considerable growth, quadrupling its staff from 50 to 250 employees. Although the company had grown its sales and staff, little to no adjustments had been made to IT resources to accommodate the increase in users. With inefficiencies in business processes becoming increasingly obvious, the company’s veteran CIO turned to Solvaria to assess the current state of the company’s technology and asked for guidance on how to position it for additional growth.


Solvaria’s assessment revealed a cause-and-effect pattern of inefficiencies across the IT department and its relation to other departments. The current IT staff functioned only tactically with no time to manage projects or research new technology, causing the business team to involve IT into project-only implementation. The business had evolved, but the current ERP system (Sage X3) and ancillary supporting applications had not been adapted to the new model.  This forced employees to find workarounds, manual processes and quick fixes instead of solving systemic issues. There was also no formal ticketing system to assign, prioritize or provide the status of requests. With no expectations set for resolutions, the IT staff was not being held to any metrics for success, causing frustration from the other departments. There was also no rotating schedule for IT support of the second and third shifts, which prevented those employees from getting any issues resolved in a timely manner.

In addition to inefficiencies in the IT department, many processes were still manual, despite available technology. For example, the Learning Management System was completely manual and informal, meaning employees were often trained by trial and error and had little or no awareness of how their actions were impacting other departments. Furthermore, purchasing information and inventory management were both being carried out manually as well. For a large distribution company, these out of date practices were hindering the company’s ability to produce and ship product at the lowest cost.

To remedy the issues hindering production, Solvaria first worked with the company’s leadership to establish a strategic direction that included IT. This included creating a budget and establishing goals and expectations from the IT department that supported overall business objectives. In addition, Solvaria inserted a fractional CIO to oversee the implementation of this new strategy, allowing the existing IT leader to focus on business applications.


At Solvaria’s recommendation, the food distribution company made strategic investments in IT that allowed many of its manual processes to be integrated into the core business applications.  These process improvements saved time, which improved the operation throughput of the facility and assisted in increasing the margin on current products.