European Head Offices
Düsseldorf, Germany and Vilvoorde, Belgium
18 European countries; 1,400 stores
The demands of globalization have led every major player in the retail industry to re-examine their relationship with IT. For C&A, a European fashion retailer with locations in 18 European countries and 1,400 stores, this meant coming to terms with the impracticality of self-developing and self-hosting the range of technologies necessary to drive a customer-centric supply chain. As estimated by Martin Wieschollek, Team Lead Enterprise Architecture at C&A, a vast majority of his company’s solutions were once homegrown, a historically grown and complex environment of internally run applications tied to legacy mainframes and varied databases — all far too rigid to be continually integrated and improved upon in an omni-channel future.
Boldly, C&A’s executive body opted for an entirely new IT architecture to propel their retail ambitions. More external vendors offering a greater variety of easily configurable solutions were to be adopted, legacy applications were to be replaced by those better suited in demand-driven retail ecosystems, and IT services were ordered to become responsive and transparent to all lines of business. However, while the expectations for C&A’s digital future were largely clear, a significant question remained: How to generate accountability and track the success of this transformation?
“By providing on-demand, accurate, and configurable overviews of our changing IT landscapes, C&A’s EA team has used LeanIX to work closer with our executive teams and accelerate its digital retail business for the entire organization.”
Lead Enterprise Architect, C&A Europe
To ensure that C&A’s leadership teams would remain in complete control over its IT architecture re-build, an enterprise architecture (EA) team equipped with LeanIX was assigned ownership of the IT transformation. This team was tasked with reporting, in data-driven degrees of certainty, to a monthly EA board chaired by company-wide business and IT. Alongside the CIO, this cross-organizational committee would help the EA team dismantle obstacles to data collection, agree upon design principles for vendor and tool selection, and map new technological solutions to processes. Together, evaluation criteria for items like monolithic vs. microservices applications, waterfall vs. agile development, and homegrown vs. commercial-off-the-shelf software were to be collaboratively created with all results thereafter being stored in LeanIX and accessible to every employee.
Further, by taking full advantage of the buy-in from senior management, the EA team would be able to iteratively evolve their existing IT governance framework to finally enable end-to-end views for streamlining IT and business processes. In this case, the integration between LeanIX and Signavio’s Business Process Management tool would be leveraged to alternately use the two platforms for performing both architectural analysis and process management while aligning C&A’s emerging digital business to modern retail industry standards. Process flows were to be mapped in Signavio, and following this, all interfaces and data flows would become derived and mapped in LeanIX — the complete picture, of which, Wieschollek and his colleagues would consolidate onto a single physical poster for reference in their office.
En route to its multi-year rollout, LeanIX’s superior functionality for process application mapping and data flow analysis has made the tool a guiding light for C&A’s executives and EA team. Just three weeks after onboarding, C&A migrated all data into the tool from its pre-existing architectural repositories (e.g., Excel, Visio) and started generating instantaneous and configurable outputs on its ‘As-Is’ and ‘To-Be’ architectural states. As intended, LeanIX quickly became a single source of truth for stakeholders throughout the company, and in one such early example, the transparency sourced within the tool led the EA team to identify and retire a redundant piece of software to enable significant cost savings. This same clarity now gives the fashion retailer better awareness of its true technological needs while negotiating new opportunities with vendors.
European Head Office – Düsseldorf, Germany
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