NZ retailer Warehouse Group adopts agile to drive digital transformation

CDO Michelle Anderson says IT has benefitted from the methodology as retail faces significant shifts in technology to support changed customer behaviours.

twg cdo michelle anderson
The Warehouse Group

Does digital transformation require an entire organisational restructure—moving from ‘chain of command’ hierarchy to the agile methodology’s tribal model, where tribes and chapters replace divisions and departments? It might not be mandatory, but the Warehouse Group Chief Digital Officer Michelle Anderson believes it has greatly assisted with the retailer’s technology overhaul.

“I think the teams are feeling empowered because they can deliver faster, they’ve got a degree of autonomy, and productivity is improving. It’s not the slow, traditional development life cycle that takes a year or more to get a solution out,” she says.

Why agile is better for IT

According to Anderson, the Warehouse Group—which includes the brands The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationary, Noel Leeming, and Torpedo 7—is the first multibrand retailer in the world to “put agile into our support office operation, so it was a pretty big step for us.”

The switch to agile six months ago was closely scrutinised, with the company noting on the NZX it was necessary to improve speed to market and productivity. The company looked globally for examples of organisations that had ‘gone agile’, consulting with banks and telcos in Europe, as well as Silicon Valley tech companies such as Google and Netflix which, Anderson says, “are born natively this way”. It also talked with Spark, the telco that switched to the agile model a few years back when it was undergoing its own transformation.

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