How Lexel served up Microsoft cloud for My Food Bag
- 28 May, 2018 08:00
Nadia Lim (My Food Bag)
As one of New Zealand’s fastest growing start-ups - since launching in 2013 - My Food Bag has expanded from five staff to a team of 170, reporting annual revenues of more than $150 million.
The brainchild of founders and co-CEOs Cecilia and James Robinson - backed up the expertise of former Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung and celebrity chef Nadia Lim with husband Carlos Bagrie - My Food Bag has transformed the online retail food sector.
Through seasonal, free-range and sustainably farmed produce, the business now operates as the third largest food retailer in New Zealand, delivering food and recipes to 28 towns and cities across the country.
Such disruption threatened to be derailed however, through the legacy of traditional technology investments, as the company advanced beyond start-up friendly phone, network and security systems.
After outgrowing three separate offices in as many years, the expanding business moved into one location in early 2017, prompting a review of current technology investments through Lexel Systems.
Following a round of workshops and reviews with key stakeholders, the Auckland-based technology provider laid out a roadmap of change, with cloud and digital transformation at the core.
“It was immediately evident to the Lexel team that My Food Bag would benefit enormously by embracing digital transformation broadly across the business,” Lexel account manager, David Harvey, recalled.
Under the guidance of Harvey and the wider Lexel team, Microsoft technologies were deployed across the organisation, spanning cloud, collaboration and productivity tools.
“Lexel goes above and beyond to ensure that you as a customer have what you need,” My Food Bag co-founder, James Robinson, said. “The experience we’ve had working with Lexel has been fantastic. Lexel understands service; prompt, reliable, great communication.”
Leveraging a Microsoft Office 365 tenancy already in place, Lexel improved the efficiencies of My Food Bag through Microsoft Azure, Skype for Business, SharePoint, OneDrive and Power BI.
“We enjoy working with Lexel because we can come to them with any issues that we have, or any challenges that we want to overcome,” My Food Bag IT manager, Amy Vo, added. “We can sit in a room and collaboratively come up with an answer that’s going to be in the best interests for our business.”
From a communications standpoint, My Food Bag continually experienced issues around overloading, a problem which increased rapidly during busy periods as systems went down under excess volume of calls.
“We found out through social media, our foodies (customers) saying they couldn’t get through to us,” Vo explained. “The situation had to be resolved and it had to be resolved quickly.
“We had simply maxed out our equipment, and if we had to upgrade our PABX [private automatic branch exchange] just to add more SIP lines it was going to cost a small fortune.”
As a result, My Food Bag worked with Lexel to establish voice technology as a priority for the organisation, leveraging Skype for Business to boost communication levels between staff and customers, removing PABX in the process.
“Since Lexel deployed Skype for Business, we have never had the phone system go down,” My Food Bag head of customer love, Ryleigh Cornes, added. “Skype for Business is now integrated with our contact centre, so every caller is identified upfront, reducing the time on the phone for both the foodie and the customer love (customer service) team.”
According to Cornes, the deployment now also allows the business to “predict peak calling times”, in a bid to capture information during every customer interaction.
Delving deeper, Cornes said My Food Bag has also taken advantage of SharePoint, in a move designed to improve collaboration levels within the business.
“There was no effective way to communicate with each other, and no easy way to find information with individual repositories everywhere,” Cornes added. “We had limited visibility on our customers or measuring success as a call centre team.
“We didn’t have as much time as we needed to spend training and developing our people, because we didn’t have the right tools in place.”
Specifically, Cornes said the business leverages SharePoint capabilities across “training, development and crisis management”, alongside the ability to store and catalogue thousands of recipes.
“We now use SharePoint in customer love,” Cornes explained. “It’s a hub where all of our customer love team know that should they have any questions, that’s the first place for them to go.
“In SharePoint we use Flow, giving us the ability to ask our chefs about different ingredients that we could use. If we want to speak to the delivery team about a concern we might have, all that information is shared right in SharePoint.”
Cornes said information is sent to the appropriate department, before coming back to the customer love team who are then able to respond, creating two way workflows as a result.
“We now have deeper insight into our foodies than we’ve ever had before,” Cornes added. “We also have the ability to communicate better than we ever have before.
“We can train and develop our people better than we ever could before, and now we have a one-stop shop for our entire team to go and get the information they need. We look back now, and it seems like we were in the dark ages.”
Three years since launching, My Food Bag was managing 80 individual Office 365 licence subscriptions, purchased directly through Microsoft.com.
But as staff numbers expanded, so did the challenges associated with managing expiration dates and increased monthly bills on company credit cards.
Consequently, Lexel transitioned the business onto the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, offering one invoice per month for all Microsoft cloud solutions.
“We took a step back and realised that a lot of our products and services were heavily based on our credit cards,” Vo explained. “Lexel helped us move to CSP. We now only have one invoice for everything cloud, and getting new licenses, or access to new Microsoft cloud solutions is a breeze.”
Furthermore, and following an internal review process, Lexel established that on-boarding employees had been an “onerous process” for My Food Bag, prompting the integration of the company’s bespoke CRM software into Microsoft Azure.
Now when a new hire comes on-board, through one clock of a button, all role-based permissions are approved, with Power BI also leveraged across the cloud suite of solutions.
“The on-boarding time for IT has reduced by hours,” added Vo, who also sanctioned the use of OneDrive for back-up and disaster recovery support.
Lexel also designed and implemented Microsoft Active Directory and Azure AD connect, with self-service password reset, seen as the first step in providing a secure hybrid directory environment for My Food Bag.
In addition, benefits include the centralising of identity management across both cloud and on-premises, while providing the IT department with 100 per cent visibility into who’s using what and when.
“This opened the door for infrastructure, services and solutions through Microsoft Azure, including Advanced Threat Protection which has subsequently been deployed,” Harvey explained. “Additional Azure services are in the pipeline including Intune for mobile device management.”
According to Vo, the impact of Microsoft cloud solutions, delivered through Lexel, within the My Food Bag business has been “far-reaching”.
“Microsoft cloud has been so beneficial to us,” Vo added. “We’re on SharePoint, we’re on OneDrive, we’re on Skype for Business, we’re on Office 365, we’re using Power BI, we’re using Microsoft flow to trigger those important things that we need to know in an instant, and we’re heavily invested in Azure. Our business has literally transformed.”
From an outcome perspective, Cornes added that the staff productivity has increased by 40 per cent since the deployment.
“The technology has allowed us to communicate better with each other, and it’s also allowed us to spend more time training and developing our people and having the tools to actually be able to do that, where we didn’t have that before,” Cornes added.
“We’re simply more productive than we’ve ever been. At the heart of My Food Bag is our foodies. Our foodies are at the heart of every decision.
“We don’t talk about customer service, it’s customer love, and thanks to both Lexel and Microsoft cloud we’re delivering the best ever customer love.”