Planning a First Class Azure Platform for BigW

More than just a platform, we helped shape a holistic roadmap and plan to enable Big W’s technology team to deliver more, faster, for their customers.

INDUSTRY

Retail

SERVICES WE PROVIDED

Azure cloud platform assessment and enablement

Key Takeaways

1

Reduce long-term operational overhead

2

Mitigated key risks

3

Accelerated delivery of features for customers

Company overview

Head of Digital IT

BigW

Company Overview

Our customer is one of Australia’s leading and largest retailers both in-store and online. With 177 stores across the country and employing over 18,000 staff, the retail giant had recently undergone a rapid migration to a new public cloud provider. Big W wanted to bring on a trusted and experienced partner to assess their platform and digital organisation and accelerate improvements.

The problem

The existing engineering team had put BigW’s Azure platform together in an accelerated manner to support a major improvement in their customer’s web experience. The rapid migration was successful, but there were opportunities to make this new platform easier to consume by feature teams and to ensure it was ready for the full scale of services that were planned for migration.  

The Azure platform was to be used by a large number of feature teams who had built their experience with other technologies.  To get these teams to a point where they could achieve full efficiency,  a step change was required in the processes and tools used across Azure.  BigW turned to Azenix for thought-leadership and deep technical expertise as a way of accelerating this process.

The solution

Azenix undertook an initial discovery engagement across the Platform and Feature delivery teams to assess areas of strengths and weaknesses. During this phase, we operated in partnership with the Engineering teams to help develop relationships with the engineers and technology leaders. This approach allowed for the best chance of a sustainable and positive outcome for BigW.

During discovery, the Azenix team undertook a series of investigations, interviews, reviews and simulations to develop a first-hand and detailed understanding of BigW's environment and business. With the discovery results in hand, Azenix produced a high-level roadmap for improvement. This plan included both technical and non-technical areas to improve the environment holistically. Once the roadmap had gone through refinement and then acceptance from the business, Azenix began assembling a team to deliver on the roadmap. This team was a combination of Azenix engineers and the existing engineers within the organisation. A collaborative approach allowed for the best result for BigW as the process would upskill the current engineers. Some engineers were allocated to particularly critical feature teams to give them the support they needed to immediately accelerate their delivery.

Key products, services and techniques used

  • Discussions with technical and non-technical personnel from across the digital division
  • Analysis of code repositories
  • Review of CI/CD pipelines
  • Simulations of real scenarios and processes
  • Retrospective sessions
  • In-depth review of documentation including guides, processes and meeting notes

"We had a combination of technology, process and cultural challenges that were negatively affecting our ability to deliver at pace.

Azenix brought in some very high calibre people who quickly started to operate as an extension of our team. They identified the highest impact areas for improvement across our Azure Platform and delivered these in a way that rapidly built momentum and trust.

Our feature teams actively seek out the involvement of these Azenix team members, as they bring the right mindset, a very collaborative style and deep technical ability - these are key ingredients for a high performing team”

Head of Digital IT at BigW

The outcomes, results and benefits

In taking an outcome-focused approach, Azenix delivered a plan that gave Big W's leadership team and engineers alike the confidence that they could build on the platform’s foundations to produce a truly remarkable result and achieve the exceptional outcomes they desired. Engineers became re-invigorated and engaged by the challenge and camaraderie, working in earnest to deliver on the roadmap and accelerate platform consumers in their production of customer-facing features.

BigW's leadership were comfortable that the agreed roadmap would achieve target cost, reliability and security outcomes.  Improvements in the way the Platform team engaged with feature teams improved overall team morale and delivery effectiveness.

BigW demonstrated their commitment to a partnership approach and the high degree of confidence they had in the quality of Azenix people so much so that an Azenix principal engineer was asked to fill an interim leadership position while the search for a permanent team member. This vote of confidence was very highly respected by the Azenix team, and as a result the team truly felt a part of BigW.

Overall, confidence in the platform and platform team was up. Leadership had the answers they needed and a plan to deliver on them. The platform team was on the right track. Platform consumers had increased confidence in the platform and the team operating it, and felt far more enabled to deliver features to customers and the business.