Last week, we began to outline the story of Tesco’s Global Wide Area Network (GWAN) project – in essence, migrating to a single global network infrastructure, which would underpin Tesco’s ongoing application, security and infrastructure centralization program. Verizon now provides secure connectivity to link Tesco’s colleagues in 12 countries around the globe, which will shortly be extended to include suppliers, partners and customers as well. Importantly, the new network infrastructure also offers a solid foundation from which Tesco can deliver key business applications consistently to all stakeholders. This enables Tesco to roll out new technologies and services more quickly and effectively, while also achieving significant cost efficiencies.
Last week, we spoke of the importance of doing the basics well, and particularly of the value of focusing on team collaboration, network design and project governance in the initial phase of the project. But this was just the start of the story. With the team and the design in place, four levels of due diligence had to take place before the solution could be deemed ready for migration of services – and this is where doing the basics well really paid off. The areas of due diligence were:
- Component integration testing—to check at the most basic level if all component parts of the design were operational
- System integration testing—to ensure all devices were talking to each other, and could continue to do so when a cable was pulled
- Functional testing of use cases—to connect the environment to the existing network, in essence, linking the design back to the business, to see if the two could mesh together
- Migration plan walk-through—walking through detailed plans to ensure that when the migration happened for real, every single eventuality had been taken into consideration.
The geographical spread of the project was the key challenge here – but the central team coordinated with specialists on the ground, whether Tesco points of contact, or Verizon specialists in technology, security or project management, to ensure that activity was carried out according to plan. There was no room for invention here—templates and checklists determined execution models, and the team worked together to ensure that all plans were followed to the letter, and results reported back centrally. Flexibility outside the contractual terms was, however, also important here—the plan had to flex to accommodate the ‘what wasn’t knowns’ which became apparent as the team dug into the detail. This was key to the program’s success.
Did it work? Well, in phase one, 24 successful migrations from trusted, untrusted and third-party networks, across 8 countries in EMEA and APAC were carried off without a glitch—a 100 percent success rate. Over a seven month period, there has yet to be an ‘event’ which has impacted Tesco’s service. For example, an undersea cable was cut off the coast off Thailand, which brought down Tesco’s primary data center connectivity locally. But Tesco didn’t notice—the failover to backup was completely seamless.
So what’s the secret here? As we said upfront, the success of Tesco’s GWAN project is not due to a magic potion, but rather a rigorous focus on detail, transparency and collaboration. It’s all about doing the basics right—from planning, through preparation, governance and implementation.
Mike McNamara, Tesco’s Chief Information Officer, commented: “Tesco’s GWAN implementation is a great example of a technology project that has—at least so far—gone spectacularly right. Of course, it’s not always been easy – there have certainly been some tricky conversations along the way about what can realistically be achieved and when. But the Verizon team’s attention to detail meant that we knew about risks up front, dealt with them swiftly, and then moved on. Most importantly by establishing a true business partnership, Verizon and Tesco have worked together to do things a little bit differently to achieve Tesco’s business goals.
The challenge for Verizon is to ensure that all our implementations achieve these same levels of success. You can be assured that we are working on it—our focus is on our customers, through every area of our business, every day. “