Jollibee wanted ‘big bang’ IT switch but plan backfired

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After the controversial closure of some its branches due to the upgrading of its IT system, it now appears that fast-food giant Jollibee is also partly to blame for the fiasco since it wanted to migrate post-haste to a new supply chain system, with standard precautionary measures apparently omitted because of the rush.

An industry source who has substantial knowledge on the matter said Jollibee, led by its chief information officer Larry Matias, said the company ordered its contractor to “go big bang” in activating its new IT system.

The IT migration was implemented by French-owned systems integrator CapGemini in the first quarter of this year and reportedly had a timetable of 16 months. But the source said Jollibee decided to discard its old Oracle system and go live with SAP by August 1.

The “rushed” migration resulted in the closure of 72 stores nationwide for seven days as supplies failed to reach the branches from the company’s local commissary.

A glaring error committed in the fiasco, the source said, was the fact that the players involved – in their apparent desire to speed up the transition – did not retain the old system as a back-up and completely relied on the new system.

Newsbytes.PH tried to get the side of the fast-food giant through its communications team and PR agency, but they have yet to answer.

Other sources from the IT industry said a project of this magnitude is normally rolled out within two to three years. The cost of the project, the experts said, could also balloon to P600 million from its initial amount of P500 million.

“Honestly, I think the system wasn’t properly tested,” said an executive of an Oracle consulting firm who requested anonymity because his company was not involved with the project. “For huge projects like these, you have to assess the risks,” he added.

The executive explained that in implementing IT projects, there is such a thing as “stress test,” which is a standard procedure in huge projects like Jollibee’s IT systems upgrade.

“There is something in IT we call stress test or volume testing. You stress test the system to see if it can handle voluminous transactions, like if your communication lines can handle it, or if the users are properly trained. There a lot of things to consider before going live,” he said.

He believed the project had a “very aggressive” implementation timetable, which wasn’t a wise thing to do.

“Jollibee is a big company with many branches all over Philippines. Usually for those kinds of implementation it shouldn’t be rushed. They should have tried and tested it for a timetable of at least two to three years before going live,” he said.

He said software companies and system integrators should draw “a proper, realistic implementation plan” and to ask for “realistic” budget as well. “When you’re cutting corners, you increase the risks. As much as possible you should have local staff also that understands our culture,” he said.

Paris-based tech company CapGemini, which implemented the IT switch, entered the Philippine market only three years ago. While a familiar name in other countries, particularly in India, CapGemini is relatively new in the local IT space, another source said.

Although the IT migration project is still being fixed, Jollibee recently re-opened its closed branches in Metro Manila.

Since Jollibee’s “Chicken Joy” meal went missing in the menu, many customers expressed their disappointments in social media using the hashtag #ChickenSad which became popular for several days.

Jollibee continues to be the largest fastfood service network in the Philippines with more than 2,200 stores nationwide. Among its affiliates include popular food companies Chowking, Greenwich, Mang Inasal, Red Ribbon, among others.

Jollibee likewise operates almost 600 stores abroad including its international brands Hong Zhuang Yuan, San Pin Wang, and Yonghe King. – with reports from Tom Noda

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