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Digital Wholesale Solutions

How DWS built a purpose-led people strategy that supports their ambitious growth plans



Project overview:

Digital Wholesales Solutions (DWS) partnered with Caraffi to build and enhance the people function of their rapidly scaling business.

DWS needed strategies, procedures and ways of working that reflected their ambitious growth plans, the culture they wanted to build and their values.

But there was so much to be built, they realised they needed a team rather than an individual.

Through The People Playbook, Caraffi’s team of SMEs have helped DWS prioritise their long wish list and are:

•  Developing a reward and TA strategy
•  Harmonising HR policies and procedures
•  Reconfiguring and automating systems
•  Reviewing and improving employee relations
•  Creating a management framework
•  Improving data accuracy and HR reporting

Automating our talent acquisition process has just changed lives. It's so exciting.

DWS's struggle:


Before working with Caraffi, what were some of the issues that you and your team were facing that you wanted to deal with?

We had a small people team in place, but what we didn't have were strategies, procedures - or anything really - aligned to the direction of travel that we were going in, aligned to the culture and aligned to our values and our belief of how we want to work with and support the people that work with us.


How did this personally affect you in your role and what you needed to get done?

One of the things that was particularly challenging for me is I was hired to come in and be the Head of Talent and People Development in the organisation. But we didn't have pre-existing or established strategies or ways of working. And it was just too much for one person to do. There weren’t enough hours in the day.

So we realised quite quickly that what we wanted to do was to engage with an external supplier that could come and swoop in, help us build strategies and ways of working, then swoop out again.

We realised we needed a team, rather than an individual

What other solutions did you consider or try before partnering with Caraffi?

We considered a couple of options. I met with a couple of consultants; so individuals that do this type of thing. But through that process, we realised that there was so much that needed to be done, to be built. And actually what we were looking for was a team rather than just an individual because that could potentially have taken that person quite a long time.

The brief:


What did you ask Caraffi to work on?

Well, we had a huge wishlist. And actually, one of the things that helped us realise that we wanted to work with Caraffi was that initial brainstorm around, "What are our priorities? What do we want to do? What's in scope and what's out of scope?" And so, we whittled it down to six key areas:

  1. Develop a reward and talent acquisition strategy
  2. Harmonise HR policies and procedures across the company - whilst we had existing policies, they were quite wordy and old-fashioned. And actually, what we knew that we wanted to do was to modernise those.
  3. Reconfigure and automate our systems – our HRIS, Cascade and SmartRecruiters
  4. Review employee relations and ways of working across talent acquisition, onboarding and induction
  5. Create a management framework
  6. Bring all people into our HRIS and establish HR reporting

So it was most things associated with the people-team that we wanted some help with.

The impact:


How did it feel to work with Caraffi?

To be honest, for me, it wasn't anything I'd done before. So it was an unknown. I wasn't sure what to expect.

But the process was explained really quickly and simply to us. And the lovely Molly (Johnstone-Ellis) joined our team, project managing and leading, developing and building systems, processing things and acting as the middleman, if you like, between our requirements, and either her expertise or the expertise of the team that you have there at Caraffi, so it was a really great experience.

It's quite incredible what's been achieved in that space of time

How do you feel about the work that's been done so far?

We've moved on so far from where we were at the beginning of the year. And when you really think about it, it's quite incredible, what's been achieved in that space of time. And collectively, we've done it.

Some of the things aren't complete yet, because there's still some things that we need to do behind the scenes. But when you think about that distance travelled, it's amazing. It's really incredible.

What has the impact of The People Playbook been so far?

The thing that I'm most proud of is the change we've made in terms of policy work. Through various conversations that I've had with Molly, we're now at a place where we're going to scrap probation. It's something that's traditionally been done because back in the industrial revolution, poor people thought it was the right thing to do.

But also challenging some of the things that were how our policies are written, speaking to people from a place of trust, and talking, communicating with people like the adults, which we all are. So I'm really pleased with that. I think that's huge.

Automating our talent acquisition process has just changed lives. It's so exciting. Yes, we do have one spreadsheet still. But that will soon be going when we implement the reporting. So I'm really excited about that. We’ve sexified talent acquisition, so it's really, really exciting.


How has the impact of The People Playbook made you feel about your role within Digital Wholesale Solutions?

What we were doing and what we were experiencing in our roles (before Caraffi) was waiting around in the weeds. We were far too much in the detail than we needed to be because we didn't trust the data that was held in our Cascade system. We were spending far too much time in spreadsheets, looking at data, pushing the same piece of paper around a desk so many times to get approval. So it's freed up capacity and we've got much more reliable information.

We're now starting from a place of trust with the people that choose to come and work for us, which is really quite exciting for the culture that we want to create. So it's changed lives. It really has.

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