Carphone Warehouse Case Study
Onepoint shape and help successfully deliver the largest ever systems integration programme undertaken by CPW
Founded in 1989, Carphone Warehouse is a British mobile phone retailer, with over 2,400 stores across Europe. It trades as Carphone Warehouse in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and as Phone House elsewhere.
The company has been a subsidiary of Dixons Carphone since 7 August 2014, which was formed by the merger of its former parent Carphone Warehouse Group with Dixons Retail. With annual revenue of £10.7 million (in 2013) and an employee strength over 11500 it was a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index and listed on the London Stock Exchange.
COBAL, one of largest systems implementation programmes ever undertaken by CPW commenced in early 2005 to deliver the CPW strategic BSS platform for supporting the TalkTalk fixed line business. The programme consists of integrating best of breed CRM, Billing and Order Management solutions to create the CPW core strategic platform based on Service Oriented Architecture. This platform is then being integrated into the existing CPW landscape.
The system being delivered is known as TRIO (The Right Information Online). It is a large complex system involving ~150 interfaces across a number of different technologies. The system has been developed on a scalable architecture with expected volumes of 2million+ customers. The programme is delivering functionality over a period of time over a number of releases with the long-term intent to migrate all customers off the legacy platforms to the new strategic platform. The initial phases have delivered support for new customers being provisioned on the Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) product set.
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Onepoint was tasked in two main areas within the COBAL:
- Heading up the architecture workstream and defining the COBAL end to end architecture;
- Implementing the Alfresco document management system.
Onepoint led the COBAL Architecture Team and engaged to deliver the Solution Architecture.
Key responsibilities included:
- Leading and overseeing the definition of the end to end architecture
- Managing a peak team of seven architects covering CRM, Billing, OM/Provisioning, Online, Retail, Integration and MIS
- Coaching and mentoring the CPW Architects on COBAL
- Reviewing the existing Architecture and recommending alternative architecture components
- Establishing an overall governance process and chairing governance meetings
- Helping the selection of key System Integration partners
- Applying a structured Architecture methodology
- COBAL Document Management.
COBAL Document Management
During the course of the COBAL programme it became clear that using a network shared drive to manage a very complex system delivery started to compromise work on the programme. With a combined onshore and offshore team in excess of 250 people during the peak period of the programme, there were many documents being produced and used across the multiple work streams. It became apparent that teams were working on outdated versions of documents leading to quality issues and lateness in delivery.
A document management solution was required. CPW had a policy to include open source based solutions during any selection exercise. A CPW architect was asked to evaluate Sharepoint, Alfresco and Kana IQ for document management. Alfresco was finally selected and Onepoint asked to implement it in Feb 2007. A number of workflows were implemented to ensure that the teams always used the latest baseline documents.
In addition to the COBAL team using Alfresco, other departments in CPW and the internal IT.
department (GIS) also started to use the system. In total there were in excess of 300+ regular users accessing a repository which had in excess of 10000+ documents.
The Architectural Challenges
1. Developing the COBAL Programme Solution Architecture.
The first challenge was in developing the COBAL Solution Architecture. The Architecture group within CPW had only been established in the previous year and so One Point brought their previous experience to CPW to define not only the overall architecture and the methods to apply them but also the templates for the System Architecture Document (SAD) and the NFR Document.
The architecture was based on a Service Orientated Architecture, which the enterprise was adopting. Being the first major programme to use this architecture the COBAL Architecture team had to drive the setup of a Service Governance framework working with the CPW Enterprise Integration Architect. This included the creation of a service registry.
2. Establishing an Architecture Governance Structure within the Programme
Prior to One Point’s involvement, the Architecture team was not being fully engaged within the programme. A key challenge was to establish an Architecture Governance Structure and to implement it such that Architecture became a key function within the programme.
The Governance Structure included establishing processes for how key decisions were made and agreed with relevant stakeholders. This was achieved through an Architecture Decision (AD) Paper that identified the problems to be addressed, the options available with an Architectural preferred recommendation. (This process has subsequently been adopted by CPW across other projects).
This involved two stages: Submission of the paper to the Technical Review Team who comprised of Subject Matter Experts from finance, business and technology and work-stream project managers. This ensured there was buy-in for the recommendation at a business / technical at the ground level;
On approval of this paper the second stage involved referring the paper to the Design Council comprising of Business Directors and Senior Management. The Architect would provide a walkthrough of the AD paper and address any questions. The Design Council would approve with instructions to implement once non-technical aspects such as cost, timescales and business impact were fully considered.
3. Education, Development and Management of CPW Enterprise Architects
One Point’s engagement aimed at making the CPW Architecture group self sufficient and self-reliant. As such, Shashin Shah was involved in educating, mentoring and developing CPW Enterprise Architects.
The team was managed using a typical project management methodology, complete with project plan, workload allocation & delivery targets based on the Architecture Governance Structure and Process (from AD draft paper submission through various reviews to completion and final approval) and regular team meetings.
4. Technology review
COBAL technology selection was performed prior to One Point’s engagement. On development of the architecture, however, it was found that some of the technology was not fit for purpose, specifically, around the Order Management and Provisioning component. Though a significant investment had already been made, One Point carried out a technology review with the CPW Enterprise Architecture team to propose moving that functionality to a different technology (TIBCO). This was agreed and successfully implemented.
One Point was actively involved in the selection (and removal) and governance of System Integration partners to ensure successfully delivery of the COBAL solution. Specifically One Point was involved in assessing and selecting Patni and TIBCO for delivering the CRM (Chordiant) and Order Management solution. As the COBAL programme went through the implementation lifecycle, One Point was involved in reviewing the delivery of the SI partners and providing architecture and design steer when needed.
In addition to defining the System Architecture for COBAL, One Point also led the work on gathering and assessing the Non-Functional Requirements for COBAL.
An approach to Performance Engineering with the focus on Performance Modeling was also defined though this could not be implemented due to time, resource and budgetary constraints.
The outcome was in delivering a robust Solution Architecture that was used to set the reference point in the design and implementation of specific workstream solutions.
Service Governance framework was setup and used throughout the organisation. Benefits are already being seen with many of the services created by COBAL being reused by other projects.
The methodology that was introduced in developing this deliverable was adopted by the Architecture Group and is being used for projects across the organisation.
Architecture Governance Structure was established and adopted across the organisation. It was very successful in bringing together the right stakeholders to address business and technical issues.
By Q3 2009, a number of legacy CRM/Billing systems will have been migrated onto TRIO and TRIO is expected to support in excess of 2M+ customer base giving CPW a robust strategic CRM/OM/Billing system to enable it to bring new product offerings faster to an extremely competitive market place.