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A large retailer engaged TEKsystems to support the development of its off-shore point-of-sale system.
The client is a department store retailer that sells moderately priced name brand and private label clothing, accessories, housewares and other merchandise to consumers across the country. The client operates over 1,100 department stores in 49 states.
With the emergence of e-commerce and mobile technologies, retailers everywhere have had to rethink the way they sell. Traditional cash registers are no longer the only source for making purchases; the channels have diversified and evolved with technology. Retailers can capitalize on these new channels for reaching their customers. Not only do online and mobile avenues increase the potential touch points retailers can have with their customers, but because they are electronically based, they also help drive operational costs down. Additionally, online and mobile purchase channels make purchasing more convenient for customers.
An omnichannel strategy integrates in-store, online and mobile points-of-sale, while delivering a consistent shopping experience for customers. Retail channels that work together are better able to manage inventory across the multiple platforms, maximizing efficiency and reducing costs. Retailers can be more competitive within their industry by implementing an effective omnichannel strategy that ultimately benefits both the customer population and the organization itself.
As a department store retailer, the client’s point-of-sale (POS) system included the traditional in-store cash register. Although mobile and tablet purchase channels are also available and pervasive technologies in the retail marketplace, the retailer continued to explore options to better meet the demand of its customers. Customers would have greater flexibility in browsing and shopping, while the client would gain more control over shipping costs and would have more room to drive sales margins. In an effort to listen to the voice of the customer and keep pace with the retail industry, the client sought to expand and develop its omnichannel retail strategy.
As first priority in this initiative, the client needed to transition development support of its legacy POS to a vendor with development capabilities to allow its employees to support ongoing efforts around the client’s next generation omnichannel strategy. To address this, the client commissioned TEKsystems to rewrite a portion of its legacy C++ language to a .NET framework. We began to perform this rewrite with a team working in our Montreal Solution Centre (MSC). The TEKsystems MSC team was extremely successful with the assigned rewrite.
Meanwhile, the client made an enterprise-wide decision that 70 percent of its contingent spend—costs associated with non full-time employees—would need to be off shore.
Given this success—paired with the off-shore business decision and desire for next generation technology—the client discontinued the rewrite and sought to develop a whole new POS system.
The need to revamp its POS system and invest in off-shore resources was a strategic but challenging move to achieve cost savings. The client’s POS department did not have any off-shore resources at the time. The company’s existing POS system was sizeable and complex and in turn, difficult to learn. The client required a trusted partner with off-shore capabilities to support the development of its off-shore POS system.
To build up its omnichannel strategy, the client required the services of a development partner that could deliver updated releases to the existing POS system to meet ongoing business demands and develop a stable, long-term POS support model. TEKsystems prepared and presented our recommended approach to the client’s POS group:
Assemble a Team
TEKsystems would build an off-shore delivery team and maintain domestic delivery leadership who supported the client’s initial rewrite initiative. This would enable us to transfer the knowledge acquired from the rewrite to the new team. Overlapping the delivery and project managers would also prove instrumental to informing our off-shore resource selection process, ensuring we obtain the optimal people and skill sets based on the demands of this new program. Then, leveraging this previous experience as well as TEKsystems’ Whitefield Solution Center (WSC), we would deliver an off-shore application development team.
Given that the architecture of the client’s existing POS system was highly complex and made up of years of code built on top of code, our team would work within the old system before beginning to develop something new. This would enable us to understand how the system operates, explore its functionality and assess areas where the system could be strengthened. Our application development team would dedicate four to six weeks familiarizing itself and working within the system before progressing towards the development of a new system.
Onboarding and Training
TEKsystems would collaborate with the client to craft the appropriate training plan, ensuring that the team receives proper onboarding and intensive training. To reduce travel expenses, we envision this would involve a combination of remote and on-site training at client headquarters. Upon completing the training, the team would travel back to the BSC and continue working off shore.
The TEKsystems team would utilize a spring release code developed by the client to practice and obtain hands-on knowledge working with their system. We would test it before it goes into production. We would then develop and test a summer release code.
The on-site technical lead would remain at client headquarters in the Midwest until the new system is completed. This resource would act as the main point of contact for the client, bridging the communication and time gaps between the client and the off-shore application development team.
After seeing our success with the assigned rewrite and presenting our recommendations to the client, TEKsystems was selected over two other competitors to implement this program. The department store retailer saw the depth of our understanding of both the task at hand and the high level of effort it would require to do this off shore. The client was also confident in the quality of our people. They trusted that TEKsystems would source a strong team who would quickly become productive assets, enabling the client’s internal resources to be reallocated to other critical IT priorities.
TEKsystems has successfully aligned with the client’s business initiatives and helped meet their ongoing POS development needs in support of an omnichannel system that can deliver and accommodate current business demands. We have also helped the client move closer towards achieving its required off-shore ratios. As a result of our successful implementation, the client’s internal IT team can refocus its efforts on big picture, next generation technology initiatives.
A total of 12 application development resources were provided including a U.S.-based delivery manager, an India-based project manager, one domestic technical lead and a series of BSC developers, quality assurance analysts and business analysts. Considering the complexity of the current system, time, rigorous training and due diligence was required in order to become familiar with the system and its functionality. Prior to initiating the development of the new system, the team completed approximately two months of orientation and training via remote WebEx training. This was followed by a five-week on-site training session at client headquarters where the client’s internal POS subject matter experts provided hands-on education to the off-shore team. They learned about the client’s systems and tools, the environment itself and client processes in action, and performed the first development sprint while working closely with the client.
Once brought up to speed on the client environment, the team transitioned off shore and worked to enhance the POS system. TEKsystems helped develop and modernize the system’s functionality and supported mobile/tablet capabilities, providing the client with customer insight including more sophisticated ways to identify and target customer activity. Throughout this program, TEKsystems tracked product quality metrics to provide transparency and visibility to the client and make ongoing recommendations to improve our process. Specifically, we tracked:
The metrics used to track defects included defect quantities identified post-code delivery, defect quantities reported that remained at the end of each sprint and bugs vs. features. TEKsystems collected and reported these metrics to the client daily and monthly, during sprint reviews and during retrospective evaluations.
Quality Assurance (QA) Testing
To measure QA testing, TEKsystems monitored the total number of test cases, the number of test cases failed as well as the number of test cases passed. We collected these metrics on a daily basis during sprint reviews and during retrospective evaluations.
We tracked the total number of changes made to the scope that resulted in additional development. We recorded this data on a weekly basis and for retrospectives.
User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
The total number of active bugs identified through the client’s UAT was recorded on a daily basis and for retrospectives.