Towards the end of 2011, Spirit Pub Company decided to replace their EPOS, stock, supply chain and Labour systems; to add to the project's complexity, the new systems had to be integrated into Spirit's legacy systems of HR and Finance. As part of that programme they asked PMC to design and execute both the QA and Testing Programme.
Bob Broadbridge, IT Director, Spirit Pub Company, states: "We selected a new suite of systems for our pubs because our existing systems were over 10 years old and no longer provided the levels of functionality and security we needed. In a highly competitive market, we need to deliver a superb pub experience consistently - the new systems are vital in enabling us to do that. I knew PMC from previous experience, so once we decided on the systems we wanted I asked PMC to design and execute the testing programme."
Spirit Pub Company currently operate 750 high-quality, branded pubs nationwide, such as Chef & Brewer, Flaming Grill, and Fayre & Square. In the last two years, Spirit has actively re-positioned their pubs, with a focus on improving operating disciplines, recruiting and retaining the best people, revitalising and developing their brands to meet changing consumer needs.
Broadbridge continues: "PMC carried out the initial QA with a technical review process to help verify our choices. They put forward the arguments we needed to hear about the importance of effective testing and presented a thorough, end-to-end testing approach. It is very clear that if we had not followed such a thorough testing approach, the project would not have been so successful."
The systems were introduced with a four pub pilot, which began in August 2011. Once that was successful the trial began in October 2011 with 40 pubs going live before the end of 2011. The key purpose of the pilot was to ensure all systems worked as expected, while the trial focused on checking the implementation training and support mechanisms worked correctly. The intention is to have another 60 pubs go-live during February 2012 with rollout across all remaining pubs between March and December 2012.
PMC developed a test strategy for Spirit Pub Company to engage both their in-house teams and development partners. Broadbridge explains: "PMC ran a full testing regime, working with both our team and our providers. As part of the programme, PMC built a testing environment to mimic the live systems, so as solutions started to be delivered both our team and our software providers could see the impact of updates and changes as the full solution started to come together."
Using the new systems for EPOS, stock control, supply chain and labour management involved considerable complexity as Broadbridge confirms: "Using different providers with different systems presented us with significant integration requirements, not just with each other but also with our legacy systems and data warehouse. We controlled the integration project with each of the providers playing a significant role in developing the necessary interfaces."
The pub business employs numerous part-time people, which demands comprehensive control over shifts and labour rotas. It also means dealing with a mixture of salaried employees and those not on fixed-hours contracts. Broadbridge continues: "PMC's testing programme helped us to ensure that we went to pilot and trial confident that our systems would help us drive better margins through improved ordering and stock control, more efficient pricing and promotional capability and better control of the end-to-end process of managing labour."
"The benefits of the new systems are already coming through, and of course this only happens when our pub colleagues in Operations have real confidence that the systems are working correctly. The effective end-to-end testing regime implemented by PMC played a vital role in building that confidence."