Infinity Works

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Infinity Works's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Infinity Works is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Events are important to
maintaining the IW community
outside of client work
Clear, real-time project status on a
card wall is important for transparency
Infinity Works, a collective of leading engineers, technologists
and consultants, was started by the four original founders who
were working together at SkyBet in 2014. Though their work
there was ultimately successful, they spoke about helping people
understand the mistakes they had made along the journey to
adopting large-scale agile delivery, and learning from them;
something central to the philosophy by which they operate now.
In 2015, Mat Barrow joined to direct their operations initially in
London and later in Manchester, and here describes why their
company is “the home of thinkers who do, and doers who think”.
Our aim is simple. We want to help our customers achieve business transformation
and organisational optimisation through technology, while focusing on, particularly,
business outcomes over pure technology deliverables. We look for things like
improved user satisfaction, serviceability, safety, security, functional agility and
reduced operating costs, rather than obsessing over minute technological detail
which will have an ultimately insignificant effect.
A clear goal and a single team
At Infinity Works, we have a clear philosophy: leave the lanyards at the door. When
we’re working with a client, we don’t like it to feel like there’s a divide within the
team, or that there’s any suggestion of “us and them”. This extends to whatever
number of other contractors we might be working alongside; no matter what
the makeup of the team, no matter who we work with, we always work as one
towards our customers’ best interest.
»Managing director:
»Established in 2014
»Based in Leeds, Edinburgh,
London and Manchester
»Services: IT professional
services, DevOps adoption,
organisational transformation,
programme and project
delivery, engineering and
managed services
»No. of employees: Over 200
»All Infinity Work employees
are given a celebrity lookalike
sent out with their welcome
email, a tradition started by
Matt and Paul
Infinity Works
Highlighting best practice
Our staff are, of course, integral to
this idea. We have a relatively simple
model when it comes to them: we hire
great people, we look after them and
they do a great job. This methodology
carries through from the top to the
bottom of the company, and nobody
is content-free. Everybody is equipped
with the ability, resources and attitude
to get a job done, and everyone in the
business is involved. All of our regional
board members are involved in project
work, and usually found on a client
site, embedded in the teams; there
are no managers sat in ivory towers
dictating what gets done..
We pride ourselves on remaining as
pragmatic as possible. We like to use
technology that is modern, rather than
fashionable – and in doing so, we find
the right tools for the job. The best
answer might not be the most complex
thing, and often we find ourselves
having to challenge the customer
for whatever might be a sufficient
solution. Often we can get 80 per
cent of the value with 20 per cent of
the effort, saving the remaining effort
for evolving rather than polishing
Pick up the phone
With regards to acquiring new clients,
our non-executive director, Mike Bates,
describes the best technique as “just
answering the phone”. If you perform
well for your current customers and
exceed the targets they set, there will
inevitably be more that you can help
them with. We make our sponsors look
good, and they will move around or
up and share their positive experiences
with others – in this way, we like to
exercise marketing within our network.
We are widening our scopes; but this
is through the medium of tech talks,
case studies, blogs and communities
of practice which, while increasing
our presence on the national stage,
remain ultimately personal. We are not
the kind of company that deals with
adverts on the London Underground
or articles in the Financial Times; it just
isn’t the way we operate.
Our clients appreciate our “non-
salesy”, honest approach and we
have around 30 active projects. These
range from delivering major systems
and organisational transformation
for government departments and
Fortune 20 enterprises to advising
entrepreneurs and one-person start-
ups. These deliveries cover how to
architect their systems to maximise
scalability and efficiency within the
limits of their funding and almost
everything in between.
“Infinity Talks: Big Data
Engineering and What
the Ops is NoOps”
external talk
At work, we’re a
high-performing team,
outside of work, we’re a
group of lifelong friends
Leave the
lanyards at the
Sticking to a standard
We started out with just four people,
but have grown by at least 50 per
cent every year since our inception
and now have a multi-site operation
with over 200 members of staff
across four locations – Leeds, London,
Manchester and Edinburgh. Although
these results are staggeringly positive,
and the transition from a start-
up team to a considerably larger
company has been relatively fast, we
don’t want to become a franchise.
We want to offer a consistent quality
and culture across all Infinity Works
offices. Being fully owner-managed,
we don’t have any shareholder targets
or market expectations to meet; this
growth has been driven by wanting
to take on the exciting opportunities
that we are presented, but we would
much prefer to sacrifice continued
growth over compromising our
culture or quality.
Ensuring that we scale successfully
is no small task. Greater expansion
means more boxes to tick and
means tasks in the vein of training
and regulation consume more time
and resources while becoming
undoubtedly more complex.
Continuing to find great people is
something that has always been
challenging, but we are starting to
broaden our scope with regards to
recruitment and expertise.
Sustainability and fluidity
Government policies encouraging
the use of SMEs have been incredibly
beneficial to our work; clients have
recognised the benefits of using
smaller organisations, and a number
that we work with, in both the public
and private sector, but, most notably,
NHS Digital utilise a hybrid team of
specialists and system integrators
rather than one large external partner.
This is something that has worked out
well for every party involved.
Looking forward, we have put in
place the mechanisms to allow us
to grow rapidly and sustainably, but
we haven’t given ourselves any fixed
boundaries or goals with regards to
growth and revenue. Our overall size
in five years’ time isn’t what really
matters to us. What matters is that
we continue to enjoy what we do,
continue to be excited and challenged
by the projects that we take on,
continue to be valued and respected
by our customers and continue to
provide our colleagues with a great
place to work and grow.
A simple
model: we
hire great
people, we
look after
them and they
do a great job
“Long service” gold-ish
watch presented on first
year Infiniversary

This article was sponsored by Infinity Works. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister