Watches of Switzerland cuts business risk by tackling human error with Basis Technologies
Embracing change with confidence
The Watches of Switzerland Group is an international retailer of world leading luxury watch brands with a growing complement of luxury jewelry brands. With a growing portfolio of mono-brand boutiques in partnership with Rolex, Audemars Piguet, OMEGA, TAG Heuer, Breitling, TUDOR, Grand Seiko, BVLGARI and FOPE, the group has over 200 showrooms globally.
Optimizing business processes with Basis Technologies
Watches of Switzerland chose ActiveControl from Basis Technologies’ to optimise internal processes to better serve customers
A Basis customer since December 2021, Watches of Switzerland has a complex, extensive SAP landscape that requires significant maintenance, as well as demand for faster change. Responsible for dozens of brands in its portfolio, Watches of Switzerland’s SAP team plays a critical role in upholding business continuity across the full spectrum of its global operations.
When Dave Webb joined Watches of Switzerland as SAP Development Lead, he inherited a change management process dominated by spreadsheets. The manual labor required to keep this documentation up to date was significant, with multiple employees working full-time on compliance and governance alone.
If the SAP team wanted to make just one code or configuration change, this would require half a day’s work finding business requests in old email chains, updating spreadsheets, and chasing stakeholder approvals; time that could have been spent on value-add activities.
This fragmented, manual workflow led to miscommunication, which was exacerbated by the industry-standard, linear approach to SAP development. Once a change was approved, the team would begin development consecutively, unlike other software development that allows teams to work in parallel. Weeks later, when this work was completed, they would either find errors in the code or discover that an outdated business request had been accidentally documented, forcing them to start all over again.
Dave overhauled Watches of Switzerland’s change management processes firstly by owning the complexity of its existing SAP landscape – the key barrier disrupting business progress.
By embracing Basis Technologies’ integrated Jira/ActiveControl project management solution, coupled with a “shift left” methodology to implement testing earlier in the development process, Dave could significantly reduce the manual burden on his team. He also knew this would bring with it substantial benefits to Watches of Switzerland’s wider interests: “Building the business case was the easy part”, he explains.
Through the agile nature of Jira, Dave was able to centralize business requests and eliminate the risk of incorrect or outdated information that was hampering progress. Basis Technologies’ change solution, ActiveControl, recorded the movements and approvals of every SAP change for audits and compliance, as well as providing over 70 automated analyzers to accelerate the work of the developers. The simple integration between Jira and ActiveControl also created an end-to-end delivery pipeline.
With these tools in place, multiple teams across Watches of Switzerland’s operation were able to work in parallel, greatly accelerating the change management process. Testing could now begin much earlier in the development process, ensuring that code errors were kept far away from production and critical live business systems, not only preventing failure but ensuring continuous improvements.
Although the SAP team was initially hesitant to upend legacy processes and workflows, it quickly became clear that the business benefits Dave had foreseen were being met across several key areas.
Audits and compliance have been significantly streamlined from six weeks of manual work to just five minutes as ActiveControl automatically generates “reports that are virtually 100% good-to-go”, Dave says. This has resulted in a 66% reduction in FTE (full-time equivalent) for the compliance team, which has significantly improved audit overheads.
“Because ActiveControl automates the majority of work associated with SAP audits, the team’s skillset has been redirected towards other projects with even greater business benefits and their costs are no longer directly associated with audits and compliance,” explained Dave.
Automation has also improved the work of the SAP developers, as testing has been shifted left, catching errors before they become business problems. The team averaged 48% rework before this initiative and this has since dropped to just 4.8%, totaling a 90% reduction.
Even in rare cases when an error slips into production, ActiveControl has given the team a “BackOut” feature, effectively an emergency undo button for SAP change:
“When something goes wrong and you have the company’s eyes on you, you’re approaching the fix from a place of anxiety and this can cause you to make even more mistakes,” explains Dave. “The confidence ActiveControl gives to those who implement it eliminates this anxiety by preserving your systems in a safe state with every change, so when something does happen, you can revert to that state and protect your business.”
Acting as the engine at the heart of Watches of Switzerland’s previously complex global business processes, and integrating other change solutions the business already had in place, ActiveControl provided the business with a new level of control and visibility. A ‘single source of truth’, it provided a complete record of all changes across Watches of Switzerland’s business-critical SAP landscape, revolutionizing the efficiency of day-to-day work.