Barrington to Drive Argenti
Source Mark Pownall, WA Business News, June 2008
To management afficionados, the name Argenti is synonymous with Wesfarmers Ltd's success during the reign of Michael Chaney.
Mr Chaney regularly gives the Agenti process credit for his successful tenure, when Wesfarmers achieved double digit annual growth over more than a decade, for which he was recognised as Australia's most successful CEO of the period.
But the well-known strategic planning system has a broader penetration in Western Australia than it's leading conglomerate.
Some of the state's biggest listed and state-owned enterprises use the system – including groups as diverse as WA's biggest company Woolside Petroleum Ltd, and state energy retailer Synergy.
Last week, Subiaco-based Barrington Consulting Group announced that it had been appointed by UK-based Argenti as its agent in WA, South Australia and the Northern Territory to help licensed users implement the system.
Barrington managing director John Barrington said his consultancy had used Argenti, named after its creator, UK consultant John Argenti, for the past decade.
"We have 16 people, so in some ways it's easier than at Wesfarmers," he said.
It lends itself to a bottom-up planning process.
Mr Barrington said the basis of the Argenti system was its simplicity and ability to focus a company on the key areas of importance.
"It distills what the real issues are in order to achieve your objectives," Mr Barrington told WA Business News.
Mr Barrington said that, by bringing a number of levels of managment into the planning system, the process fostered a real sense of ownership and was good for morale.
Argenti was previously represented by Bill Robertson of Bill Robertson & Associates, who set up his strategic consulting practice in 1993 after almost three decades with Wesfarmers.
One of the Argenti's key tenets is that shareholder value is paramount when it comes to strategy.
Among the list of other WA users are mineral sands miner Iluka Resources Ltd, run by former Wesfarmers executive David Robb, state body Forest Products Commission of WA, international education provider Navitas Ltd, and UK-owned Bank West.
National Australia Bank Ltd, chaired by Mr Chaney, also employs the Argenti system.
Mr Robb said Iluka was already using the Argenti system when he arrived there about two years ago but he has expanded its use.
"We have extended its application to individual region Argenti plans, not just a top-down corporate plan," he said. "I rate it because it lends itself to a bottom-up planning process."
Mr Robb said the key areas of focus from his point of view were that the system provided for a range of possible outcomes, not just forecasting to a single point, and it allowed targets to be set for a minimum or satisfactory performance level (notably in terms of return on capital).
In addition, it provided for a focus on defining strategies to improve performance to reach the satisfactory level.