How Home Hardware fixed its app delivery process
For some time, Home Hardware Stores Ltd has been developing and distributing in-house retail IT applications to its 1,000 stores across Canada. But in order to ensure the process is efficient, the St. Jacobs, Ont.-based retailer, about a decade ago, decided to track the time spent on IT projects.

When individual stores maximize the use of homegrown retail applications, that renders a quality customer experience, said Tony Pimenoff, project office manager with Home Hardware.

The management of those IT projects needed support tools for things like time tracing and scheduling, said Pimenoff. “Many applications are homegrown and what we’ve done is we’ve tried to bring project management in to upgrade those IT applications,” he said.

Types of in-house applications for the back-end supply chain include tools for communicating with the stores, performing file transfers, and upload and download of data.

Home Hardware deployed a centralized project management platform from Islandia, New York-based-based CA Inc., Clarity Project & Portfolio Manager (PPM), initially to track time spent on IT projects. But with time, use of the software eventually evolved to address other areas within IT, said Pimenoff.

“The idea of it being just a time tracking tool was not the real reason it was brought in,” said Pimenoff. “It was brought in for its potential and to help us realize our potential.”

Often when organizations begin to consider a platform like Clarity PPM, they may have a laundry list of challenges they want to address, but it can take time to get around to all those, said Jeff Itscovitch, CA’s director of solutions for Clarity PPM.

But companies gradually grow into the platform which then acts as a vehicle for introducing more capabilities to address other problems in the organization, said Itscovitch.

“Home Hardware is a very good example of that and how they started with a base set of functionality and saw the value of where they could take it,” said Itscovitch.

Throughout the decade that Home Hardware used Clarity PPM, CA assisted with upgrades, ensuring things like data migration and process validation and configuring those into the new version, said Itscovitch. Currently, Home Hardware uses version 8.1. Pimenoff said there are plans to upgrade to version 12.

Having a vision for its IT infrastructure is what helped make Home Hardware “lead-edge” in this department, said Itscovitch, because often, companies back away from such technology deployments out of fear of not being entirely prepared. But Home Hardware, he said, although then not a 100 per cent ready, had a vision of how project delivery could be efficient and on budget.

Pimenoff said issues like “scope creep” can be contained, and processes like resource allocation are improving, like knowing whether they are “over or under allocated down the hour in the week.”

“We are delivering IT projects a little faster and higher quality, applying structure and the regimentation around projects,” said Pimenoff.

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