Our IT director came into this digital retailer to provide oversight and leadership process involving updating legacy software systems and budget streamlining.
This company transitioned from a traditional catalogue and brick & mortar retailer to a purely digital platform several years ago. A significant portion of their revenue came from offering financing options to their customers. They boasted a diverse product range supported by intricate supply chains. On the financial front, they operated under stringent regulations set by the FCA.
While the company enjoyed consistent revenue and profit, growth was stymied due to the challenges of updating legacy software systems, some of which were three decades old. The CEO’s dual objectives were clear: boost sales targeting their well-defined persona and slash operational fixed costs. Marketing strategies had been fruitful, but the outdated software landscape hindered further advancements.
To address this, the CEO brought on board a Head of Engineering with a progressive mindset. This role was pivotal in overseeing the legacy system transformation and ensuring the digital retailer software update was in line with the company’s e-commerce IT strategy.
Head of Engineering’s Objectives
- Oversee the daily operations of the engineering team, which included Business Analytics, Development, Data Analytics, Testing, and Infrastructure.
- Streamline the £50m pa engineering budget encompassing staff, equipment, and third-party services.
- Revamp the engineering workflow to guarantee product delivery predictability in terms of time, cost, and quality.
- Foster a culture centered on delivery excellence and operational efficiency.
What the Director Did
Incorporated a Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Team
First the IT Director started by transitioning to a micro-service architecture necessitated a robust and reliable management approach for micro-services and APIs. This was achieved by introducing an SRE team that championed Infrastructure-as-Code and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) principles. This move enabled the development team to deploy fully-supported micro-services in under 20 minutes, paving the way for innovative strategies to dismantle the existing monolithic systems.
Cost-Efficiency in Addressing Legacy Systems
The company’s software landscape was a patchwork of technologies and architectures accumulated over the years. A significant cost factor was a vast database paired with two million lines of PL-SQL. Although this software base was on its way out, a sizable team was still on the payroll for its maintenance. A collaboration with IBM allowed the software system overhaul, transitioning maintenance responsibilities and enabling cost reductions. This shift necessitated a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) agreement involving IBM, the company, and the representing unions.
Furthermore, the director prioritized retail tech modernisation by assisting in the digital store software upgrade. This move ensured the in-house team was equipped with contemporary skills, allowing them to focus on the latest software innovations and aligning with the broader retail technology consulting strategy.
- Partnering with a large partner to outsource legacy software, saving over a million pounds annually.
- Reduced the time for micro-deployment into production from 4 weeks to 20 minutes.
- Drove a 3% uplift in basket conversions by leveraging data to make recommendations.
- Reduced time from request to delivery from 12 weeks to 4 weeks for logistical operations.