With Shoplink recently being named as the Private Sector IT Project of the Year at the 2018 Tech Excellence Awards, Aoife gives a first hand account into the work that happened behind the scenes, the knowledge and skill displayed to get the project to succeed and the celebrations that ensued after receiving our joint accolade.
I attended the 2018 Tech Excellence awards for the first time last month with no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to experience what was a night of fun atmosphere and industry networking, complimented by great food and mad entertainment. The best moment of all, though, was when the first award of the night went to Ergo and BWG for Private Sector Project of the Year. That’s us! That’s our project! We were ecstatic. Together, as partners, we accepted our award, smiled for the photos, then partied ‘till all hours. It was a chance to celebrate, and to reflect back on all the hard work put in over the past couple of years.
What we helped achieve for BWG goes far beyond the technical/IT aspect. It helped make a real difference to their business, delivering a tangible answer to their original problem: trying to manage two different, yet vastly vital, IT systems in the wake of a large acquisition.
The missing link
I’ve been involved in the support and development teams for BWG since they first came to Ergo with their handful of applications, each serving various purposes for different subsets of their customers, and each with their own limitations. Following their acquisition of Londis, BWG found themselves with two “main” legacy sites that were both very, very important, and both very, very different: the original BWG platform, eOrder, written in .NET; and Londis’s ISIS (Intelligent Systems Increase Sales), written in PHP.
This mishmash wasn’t working for BWG, who hoped to consolidate everything into one new system: Shoplink. Conceived as a one-stop, real-time, 24-7 platform for all of their various types of customers, Shoplink was to be a fusion of all the good stuff from eOrder and ISIS, along with much, much more. It would connect directly into retail EPOS systems at one end, and BWG’s ERP system at the other. It would also need a more robust and resilient platform than any of the existing systems had.
BWG tasked Ergo with getting Shoplink to pilot in two months, with go-live planned for three months later. Facing tight deadlines and a myriad of technical hurdles, we needed to deliver the key stuff quickly, and we needed to really understand BWG’s business and adapt to their priorities to do so. BWG’s team worked extremely closely with the team in Ergo day-to-day, and this collaboration was crucial in the success of the project, ensuring a clear, shared vision for the desired outcomes.
Challenging as it may have been, Shoplink was proudly launched in early 2017. Later that year, it won Best B2B solution at the Éir Spider awards and, more importantly, BWG reported an increase in profits and an increase in user perception and satisfaction with their systems - with manual orders and delays now a thing of the past. Shoplink has more features, a better user experience, and many times more users than any of the preceding systems. Since those early days, we’ve been continually building new features and have, over time, moved to a more Agile delivery model so we can work even faster and more effectively together.
We did all of that?
The morning after the awards, it was straight back to work on some new features for Shoplink. I’d heard lots of buzz over the previous few days, but I asked our marketing team whether I could have a peek at our full Tech Excellence submission to read it for myself. They shared it with me, and I was blown away. “Wow! We did all of that?” Seeing it laid out like that, it all sounded pretty bloody good! It took me a moment, and a little step back, to really take it all in. It’s hard to see the bigger picture sometimes, but this is what we’ve been doing. Reading it made me realise the impact all our work has had, and receiving national recognition really feels great, too.
This award is for all of us: for everyone at BWG and Ergo who’ve worked incredibly hard throughout the different stages of this project; for the support and development and management teams, and many others, still working hard on it; for everything we’ve achieved as partners in it all. I’m so proud to have won, together, as a cross-company team and to have made a lasting impact on ensuring that BWG are digitally equipped to continue moving their business forward.
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