The role of IT has developed along with the changes that have occurred over the last five years, and there is now extensive use of internal email, remote email and online access to accounts and inventory. Groupware features such as Windows for Workgroups are also used to enable better and more efficient team work. These have been to the extent that the managing director considered the changes could not have occurred without the facilitation of IT.
A great deal of trust was required initially, as the team based approach required employees be given significantly more responsibility for their own actions. Email was identified as a lever as it enabled frequent communication, both on and off site, and this made the team building possible by providing an adequate substitute for direct supervision. Other benefits included the ability of the external sales force to access inventory records, suppliers and other items that they may need while still on the road. While specific EDI is not yet utilised, some suppliers are online for email, and similar communication with customers is under consideration.