Burger King: Managing Change

Over the past few years Burger King Corp. has gone through many changes. There has been a new CEO and two new presidents, a new EVP and chief marketing officer, a divestiture from its old parent company, Diageo, the opening (and move to) a new HQ, and a major restructuring of its nine divisions, to name a few.

And now that the $11 billion company is on its own, it can no longer depend on Diageo for data center or applications support, such as the of sharing ERP capabilities. It has had to either renegotiate contracts for these services or find new vendors outright.

IT has also been charged with becoming leaner through consolidation and the rationalization of its platforms and vendors as well as communicating better with its 11,220 corporate-owned and franchisee-run restaurants.

Through all of this change, however, there has been one constant, Raphael Sanchez, who joined the company in 1999 and worked his way into his current job as CIO in 2002.

In this exclusive interview with CIO Update, we talk with Sanchez on the intricacies of managing IT for a company in a state of flux while maintaining services to its worldwide operations and franchisers.

New executive management usually means new directions for the company. How have all the leadership changes at BK effected IT?

“That’s always the case, but I think in our business … if you look at our brand we always continue looking for new customers. So our changes are more driven by that and less so by management changes. We have to prepare ourselves for a turnaround and that’s pretty straightforward in the sense of what needs to be done.”

To do this the company has made major investments in new infrastructure, a new identity management system and portal to make communication with its restauranteurs easier, as well as a new ERP system to handle everything from finance to HR.

“If you have a good strategy … based upon solid facts there really is no reason to change. And we continue to enhance it, of course. Ever year we review our accomplishments and whether or not we need to speed up some things or change the priority of others.”

So the divestiture from Diageo has had more of an impact on IT than management changes?

“When you are in a major holding company you tend to do a lot of leveraging of IT services and products; and providers, for that matter. So, when you get ready to be a standalone organization, you have to slowly migrate to your own relationships with those providers or, in the cases where you can’t continue, you look for alternative providers.