The Coffee Club’s bright future in the Cloud

“Renovate the house one room at a time.”

So goes the advice from MinorDKL Food Group IT Manager Brendon Baglin, when asked what he’d say to other IT Managers about to embark on their digital transformation journey.

He elaborates, “My counsel would always be to focus firmly on your goals. You don’t build a house without a plan, and you can’t possibly renovate it all in one day.”

It’s an analogy that makes instant sense, and as MinorDKL Food Group proves, it’s a philosophy that works.

MinorDKL Food Group, founded in November 1989 as The Coffee Club in Brisbane, has grown to over 450 stores across six brands. In its Australian head office, though, the IT leadership of Brendon and his team is changing the organisation from the inside- out, with waves starting to be felt globally. 

In the last four years, Brendon and his IT team have managed to transition multiple disparate and distributed systems (and up to 60 servers) into Microsoft Cloud infrastructure, including Dynamics CRM, Dynamics AX, SQL Server and now Skype for Business, with around 800 seats in Office 365.

Brendon explains, “The history of the company has been very much built around Microsoft, and the Microsoft stack. For us, Office 365 has proven to be a highly scalable starting point, and easy to use platform. There’s also peace in knowing that there’s very little risk involved in choosing a Microsoft product.”

This level of trust may explain how Brendon’s vision for the organisation has evolved into the real success story it is today.

But like most things in business, it began on email.

“We literally used to live within email and it was really weighing us down. Once upon a time, a franchisee would email me, and because I travel so much, it might take me a week to respond. Nowadays, the correspondence goes through to the franchise care team, they pick it up, make sure it’s logged and allocated correctly- and then automatically re-assign it to someone in the team.”

As a customer- service focused organisation, it was crucial to getting these communications, and this level of operational transparency right.

“Today, if the team see that a service level commitment has been breached, it then escalates up the management chain, and gets reported back to the same franchise care team each week. Previously we had limited visibility of what was going on at that level of the business, but now it’s completely transparent on who is responsible and who is delivering what.”

Scalability, operability and speed

“When we assessed offerings from the likes of Rackspace and Google, the team created a high-level migration plan for each and evaluated the change management process for staff in switching applications.”

“We costed up the various solutions over a 3-5 year period, and we arrived at Office 365 because for us it was not only the most complete solution, it also offered vertical applications that were useful to our business, and it was the clear winner on price.”

“When we considered our needs closely, we very quickly started poking large holes in other solutions put forward.”

Once he got the email process right, the focus on improving customer service continued, and that included looking at their CRM too.

“We picked Dynamics CRM as a natural partner with Office 365, particularly with its single sign-on, federated access, and because it was at exactly the price point we were after.”

Brendon expands, “CRM took only weeks to get off the ground because we broke it down into smaller iterative phases. Our long-term view, as we continue to open around 20 stores per year, is to leverage services like Project Online to expand the business further, using CRM to manage activity and report on it. We’re also developing a mobile app for customers.”

Empowering employees

Looking at MinorDKL Food Group’s most important asset though, employee empowerment has been a particular focus in the company’s roll out of Skype for Business.

“It took two weeks to kick off and we were online within four with Skype for Business in our corporate office.”

Brendon outlines that collaborating with staff overseas via Skype for Business has been particularly easy.

“Being able to collaborate and work with my colleagues and partners abroad and work closely as if they were in the same office, or right in front of me has been significant when it comes to our productivity.”

A scalable future in the Cloud

Brendon explains that the business is also looking at Power BI for business analytics, and moving to Cloud PABX, having already purchased the licensing, with all services in Office 365- a move which will allow the organisation to scale without having to worry about infrastructure or hosting costs.

“In our move to the Cloud, trust and security has been key, including data sovereignty concerns which have now disappeared by using local Azure data centres.”

Brendon concludes, “Microsoft has always been a reliable and well known entity to us, and working closely with a partner gave us the peace of mind that everything was running smoothly. Today I’m a very happy IT Manager as a result.”