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Even as the world has slowed down its pace going into lockdown mode, a TCS team supporting UK bicycle and automotive retail and servicing company Halfords, sprang into action, doubling their efforts towards ensuring that Halfords' business processes remained seamless. This in turn helped the client provide undisrupted support to essential transportation services.

Challenges on Multiple Fronts

Given the current health crisis, Halfords has been operating with a fewer number of brick-and-mortar stores, while e-commerce activity has seen a rise. While this is a much-needed positive development for the retail business in general, the largescale switch in purchases, from physical to online, impacted its SAP and downstream applications. The challenge was two-fold and occurring concurrently. There was a store suspension process in play, and a parallel spurt in e-commerce orders. The legacy SAP central and warehouse management systems had to be reassessed and redesigned to accommodate this sudden change in business scenario. Most importantly, this had to be done expeditiously.

Working Hard and Fast

The TCS team took swift ownership and control of the problem. Working long hours to coordinate with various stakeholders involved across the value stream, a relentless focus was kept on the fundamental and necessary technical drill to be followed even as a creative solution was sought so as not to impact the end user – the Halfords customer.

In its current systems design form, the store suspension process was estimated to take nearly a week to complete. The TCS team worked exceptionally hard on this aspect. The solution came in the form of a goods movement reversal, including the runtime improvement of one SAP program, which enabled an entire slew of related activities to be completed on the same day within a mere four to five hours.

The team not only constantly monitored and liaised with vendors involved, but concurrently worked on providing a solution, as well as manually reprocessed orders to keep business wheels spinning.

This proactive and deft handling of a technology situation, especially during a critical time in business, garnered appreciation from Halfords CIO, Neil Holden. “Problems will always happen, not all of them can be avoided, and when they do happen it’s about how we respond and think about our customers first. A lot of you have worked tirelessly recently, sacrificing your personal time, not caring whether it’s ‘your job’ to help, and showing fantastic teamwork in representing us all in very high-pressured situations. I personally appreciate how hard everyone works in our department (onsite and offshore) and I’m sure I speak for all the IT Leadership Group when I say thank you – we need to keep our laser focus on providing the best possible essential service to our customers, many of whom are key workers,” Holden said. These key workers, who look to the retailer for their cycling and automotive needs, include essential services such as the UK government’s National Health Service, ambulances, and vehicles used in the transport of essential supplies.

The Halfords story, therefore, serves as a powerful example that evidences TCS’ relentless commitment towards strong teamwork; the ability to adapt quickly and accurately even in changing scenarios in the backdrop of the current health crisis; and the diligence to ensure to the safest and smartest extent possible that businesses continue to provide essential services for those journeys that matter most at this time.