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Retailers are well aware of how bad weather and technical issues can affect their supply chain, as well other areas of its business.
To combat issues brought about by unforeseen circumstances, luxury supermarket brand Waitrose deployed ServiceNow to handle business continuity issues through automated alerts and improve its response to incidents threatening to derail business.
Updating a manual system
Waitrose had lots of data surrounding business continuity plans, but the data was held in static documents. These were updated every six months and had to be manually cross-referenced.
“We saw the opportunity to manage our data in a much more efficient and dynamic way, updating our business continuity plans much more easily and ensuring they were fully integrated with the IT disaster recovery plans,” says Waitrose business risk and compliance manager Mike Westby.
“We knew that this would also help us save costs, and ultimately recover from any disruption much more quickly and easily.”
With the business continuity system, it is much easier for Waitrose to interpret relevant information and sort it according to such criteria as by building, by floor or by critical function.
Tests and automations based on these areas can be run with different scenarios to see how the business would cope under certain circumstances, and what needs to be changed or updated.
As ServiceNow was already being used across the John Lewis Partnership, the supermarket was aware of the product and how it worked.
Easily accessible data
Waitrose signed service management specialist Fruition Partners to develop a system for business continuity planning.
“The project scope was largely to replicate the paper-based system, but with some additional data,” explains Westby.
“We also wanted to be able to interrogate the data in a much more flexible way, and make it easier to keep track of key performance indicators.”
Fruition Partners helped Waitrose to develop a bespoke system using an agile methodology, the core user requirements of which were ease of use, data visibility and a single version of the truth.
“Fruition Partners helped us draw up business requirements for the bespoke system, and support a rapid application design, creating a completely tailored ServiceNow application,” says Westby.
“They then supported us through our three ‘sprints’ of development and with managing the ‘go live’ process.”
By creating an IT system to replace the previous paper-based updates, the data stored is now searchable across the organisation, and ensures everyone has the same information, making decisions easier to make and more pragmatic.
“It means that we can analyse data much more dynamically and respond more quickly to changes; for example if a team changes building we can update the information immediately and adjust our plans accordingly,” says Westby.
“I can also use it to sort by building and by floor, so that I can understand what critical functions and people are where, and we can run different scenarios more easily, testing what’s needed against what’s possible.”
Benefits now and in the future
Westby says his team now have more open communication with the IT team with the open dialogue surrounding the integration of disaster planning for physical facilities and IT disaster recovery.
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Although it is too early to put a number on the cost savings of the project, the team at Waitrose has already reduced the time spent trying to collate information from different places since the paper-based system has been removed.
The system allows the firm to assess where it can make cost savings from allowing flexible working during incidents, as opposed to providing additional emergency office space.
The business continuity system will be rolled out across the John Lewis Partnership later this year, with help from Fruition Partners.
“The system hasn’t been used to support a live incident in full as yet, and we of course hope it won’t need to be.” Westby says.
“Nevertheless, I can say that our level of assurance about our Business Continuity Plan has moved from basic to advanced, and we’re able to spot gaps much more quickly and easily.”