Automation is Brewing at Iconic Coffeehouse Chain Retail Stores

About the Company

The world’s largest coffeehouse chain, founded in Seattle, Washington, in 1971. This chain operates more than 30,000 locations worldwide.


The backbone of any modern retail business is the ability to support customer transactions on a fast, reliable network. The Retail IT team for this coffeehouse chain works 24/7 to keep their network up and available for stores around the world. As part of that core focus, the Retail IT teams also maintain and track all of the store’s ancillary equipment from the Point-of-Sale machines (POS) to the printers for the cup labels and customer receipts.

In North America alone, it is normal for this coffeehouse chain to have 600 to 800 open work orders for opening stores, relocating stores, and upgrading network circuits and equipment. With each of these work orders, the Retail IT team provides heavy logistical support. They coordinate internal teams and on-site vendors to ensure smooth hand-offs from equipment delivery to the cabling set-up and circuit turn-up. Yet each group that Retail IT relies on for delivery had been providing siloed data and managing their individual process steps in separate tools.

“That level of work going on is not easy for us to see or manage.” said the Information Technology Supplier Manager, Iconic Coffeehouse Chain.

 The team recognized lost overhead in having to manually:

  • Monitor fleet inventory
  • Engage with vendors and stores for on-site scheduling
  • Manage new program rollouts
  • Reconcile vendor billing

Over the years, millions of dollars were spent on items for new stores without guarantee of traceability. In some cases, old, outdated equipment would be discovered in stores with no record or service contracts for those items. It was a tedious and manual process to figure out the support contract for a store or asset, resulting in delays and hindering the Retail IT team’s ability to assist in a timely manner when a store would call with an issue.

As the chain was repositioning to scale globally and match pace with emerging technologies, the Retail IT teams recognized that they needed better data, better visibility and most importantly, better tools. The coffeehouse chain purchased ServiceNow as part of a larger Enterprise Service Management strategy and the Retail IT teams were the first in line to take advantage of the capabilities of the new platform.

Milestone Partnership & Program Approach

Milestone began by working with the Retail IT teams to scope a series of projects that would gain quick wins for the business. Stakeholders wanted to first establish a unified foundation of the data and then introduce new functional capabilities to standardize and automate Retail IT business processes for reporting and for putting assets/equipment on an upgrade or decommission path:

Phase 1: Data Governance and Visibility

  • Established a known Asset Inventory within the CMDB
  • Launched workflows to support Circuit Move, Add, Change and Disconnect (MACD) for Retail Stores
  • Introduced new reporting capabilities
    • Equipment by store
    • Circuits by store
    • Circuits by vendor

Phase 2: Process Standardization, Integration and Automation

  • Integrated ServiceNow with external vendors for:
    • Retail Work Order dispatching
    • Creating an Orderable Vendor Product Catalog within the ServiceNow Service Catalog
  • Enabled the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) application to support programs for:
    • Equipment refresh
    • Circuit upgrades
    • Program pilots and rollouts
  • Launched a ServiceNow Discovery POV to demonstrate capabilities, establish security guidelines, and inform the expansion phase of Discovery

ServiceNow continues to create new opportunities as the team is able to repurpose their time and refocus their attention on core delivery. A phase three expansion of ServiceNow’s Discovery is underway and with it will come more potential for automation in asset lifecycle management.

Business Outcomes & Results

With ServiceNow in place, the coffeehouse chain is now leveraging the platform to upgrade existing stores across the US and reduce spend and speed up installation of new stores while reducing service level agreement (SLA) times.

The coffeehouse can easily:

  • Report what hardware is deployed or in inventory in each store and track these assets
  • Track contracts tied to stores and assets to support vendors
  • Maintain baseline configuration by store type; drive thru vs café
  • Identify network demand and report on it
  • Manage delivery to new stores as a project
  • Integrate with vendors for asset ordering and incident management
  • Model tighter project controls at store work order level
  • Use data to support contract negotiations tied to existing and new store areas

More projects are on the strategic roadmap to increase utilization of the platform, continue overall tools consolidation, and incorporate additional teams into the collaborative environment.

“We needed to be able to understand the cost of an individual store to make decisions about keeping the store running, adding new configurations to the area and improving customer service (e.g., adding services like Uber Eats). Covestic has helped us access the important information we need to make fact-based decisions. Having reportable data pulled from ServiceNow enables us to plan for demand giving our internal team better visibility and improved SLA management. As a result, we can negotiate better contracts, lower individual store costs and provide better SLAs.”

– Information Technology Supplier Manager, Iconic Coffeehouse Chain


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