CIO50 2022 #26-50 Vaughan Dixon, hummgroup
Vaughan Dixon joined diversified payments company, hummgroup, in early 2021 and began working with the his team to break down silos and uncover the true potential of all team members.
Significant resources were dedicated to supporting multiple technology platforms, and a number of systems that were unstable, as well as in addressing friction within the wider group.
Over the last 12 months, Dixon and his team have played a fundamental role in transforming the company, enabling the design and development of innovative products, developing platforms for new international markets and delivering a better customer experience.
“We had important work to do in a short amount of time to meet the strategic goals of the company. These included international expansion, extending our reach into new customers and being the finance option for bigger ticket items,” he says.
Dixon explains that he is unlocking the potential of the team by redesigning into squads – multi-disciplined teams that could design and deliver products on one scalable platform, phasing out older legacy and duplicated systems that were holding the company back.
“Introducing an agile methodology and bringing together multi-disciplinary teams has accelerated human progress in multiple areas, enabling the delivery of products into new geographies. This has significantly improved our processes and is improving the ability to resolve issues and stabilise the systems our customers rely on to purchase the things they need.”
In the last 12 months, Dixon and his team have launched a BNPL (buy-now-pay-later) product in Canada and the UK. This was done while consolidating and optimising customer originations processes, and migrating to the cloud, in parallel with a major team reorganisation, through a pandemic and while stabilising and simplifying systems.
“We have built the tech stack for international markets and big-brand partnerships (that are yet to be announced). These days we build it once and do it right rather than having different platforms for each product.”
Transforming the team has had a wide range of impacts across the group and enabled hummgroup to accelerate growth plans into new markets and boost productivity, says Dixon.
He and his team have identified system weaknesses and built redundancy into the system, achieving 99.5% availability, leading to "harmony" across the group. They have also created a traffic light system that helps to indicate how big an outage is and who it impacts.
“Putting the customer at the heart of everything has transformed the way we respond to and communicate about outages These seem like small changes, but putting ourselves into their shoes helps us to think differently and overcome challenges in new ways".
Dixon and his team also addressed the service desk backlog and eliminated the wait time for employees needing IT support.
“When I joined, there were requests dating back two to three months. We set up a triage system, established clear communication channels to keep people informed, putting accountability in place to ensure things were followed through and keeping the wider group updated on the progress we were making," he says.
“We also ensured that we were reporting weekly on our progress sorting the backlog".
Clear and consistent communication
Dixon says he ensures technology goals are regularly discussed at all levels of the organisation, integrated into the company’s strategic plans, and reported weekly in town hall sessions.
“Clear, consistent communication helps build trust and confidence in the team so that when something goes wrong, we can work together to fix it. When we have issues, we don’t hide them away, but rather raise them and hold ourselves accountable to find a resolution. This openness and honesty is vital to build trust," he says.
“We can never assume that everyone understands the terms and technical language, so we never stop trying to find new and interesting ways to keep the team updated".
With this in mind, Dixon and his team are now communicating with the business through a global newspaper that publishes weekly updates of activities, and launched ‘humm game,’ a global coding competition that gamifies some of the work they do.
“It’s critical to understand what is happening in other departments so that we are not working against each other, particularly when it comes to launching and testing new products,” he says.
Finally, Dixon actively promotes culture by sponsoring a ‘Ways of Working’ group, Pride Month, and Women in Tech.
“Being involved in these events and activities helps me to connect with new people across the organisation that I might not get to work with otherwise and also helps to make me someone that people feel comfortable to approach and chat with.”