Q&A: Payless Shoes IT manager, Kerry Smith

Smith talks about retaining staff and keeping abreast of new technology

Kerry Smith has been with Payless Shoes for eight years as IT manager and prior to joining the retailer, worked at Essential Software.

He is kept busy managing the company’s 232 stores around Australia and its Sydney head office.

The company recently implemented a network-based EFTPOS, Primus Private IP Network (PIPN) and Accella hosted IP phone system provided by Primus Telecom. The PIPN is designed to integrate voice, data and video traffic, together with EFTPOS transactions on a single data platform.

What does your role at Payless Shoes involve?

I’m responsible for all of the stores’ hardware, software and telecommunications support as well as head office.

What are some of the challenges you face in the role of IT manager?

The biggest challenge is keeping the business fed with relevant information in a timely manner so they can make decisions about new promotions.

What are some of the major projects you have been working on?

We recently did a major upgrade to our Oracle Retail business applications system which took nine months. That has been up and running for some time now and made a difference. It was a big step up from the previous version of Oracle Retail.

What are the three challenges facing IT managers today?

From my point of view, staff retention is a big challenge. We run a call centre type environment and it’s not something a lot of people stick with for a long time.

The other challenge is to identify the appropriate new technologies for the business so that we’re keeping ahead of our competition. We’ve rolled out smartphones to all of our business managers and we’re continually looking at improving our peripheral systems such as timekeeping and payroll.

What do you like about working in the retail industry?

It’s such a fast moving, dynamic industry and you have to keep a tight rein on costs.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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