Synoptik is focusing on the future business-critical IT operation which includes more than 200 stores in several countries.
The optician's chain changes its IT operation partner in order to get a supplier that understands the requirements that the company has to their platform. The increasing need for flexibility and continuous accessibility has pensioned the old stop-gap solution off. It has been replaced by a customized and future-proof solution, which will develop with the company, as well as a solid network that includes all Synoptik's 210 stores.
10 years ago, Synoptik started outsourcing its IT as part of the overall strategy. The optician's chain is really good a running eyewear stores, and that is where the resources should be used. The IT platform must support Synoptik in its business − it was never the company's ambition to be world champions in operating Windows servers. But its IT partner should be.
So when Synoptik started to look for a new partner to take over the operation of the servers and network, it was not a question of choosing the right servers. Synoptik wanted a partner who understands the reality of the company: 210 stores in three countries in different time zones that are open on Sundays and with birthday offers that should be sold effortlessly to customers when they are in the store - whether it is in the store in Nuuk, Næstved or Norrköping.
- We have had quite a few discussions with our previous supplier who did not quite understand that element. Retail is not 24/7, but almost. You know, stores are open till 8 or 10 pm. They are open on Sundays, and we have a store in Greenland where the time difference is four hours. If there is no connection to the stores, we cannot sell anything. If the systems are suddenly not running for whole a day, we are in deep trouble, right? Thomas Fischer, the Supply Chain Director at Synoptik, explains.
Almost 1400 computers are connected in a Citrix solution across the 210 eyewear stores, which the staff depends on when attending to customers. Thus, for Synoptik, it is of vital importance that the IT platform is not an obstacle in the daily work, and that the stores always have access to the services they need. This applies both to the network and the central platforms in the data center.
- It is not profitable for a company like ours to run our own infrastructure. We must focus on selling glasses and contact lenses. It is much better if the IT employees we have work in the cross field between business and technology rather than trying to figure out how to maintain a Windows server, Thomas Fischer says and explains:
- But to us, outsourcing is not so much about saving money, it is more a strategic choice: We are simply not good enough at this, and we do not want to tie up resources in this area. You also need to invest in server rooms and fireproofing and a lot of other things. If you have to hire a night watch and someone to monitor everything, one person is not enough. This person needs time off sometimes. The company is simply not big enough for that, the IT Director explains about the background for leaving the IT operation to others.
During the last six years, in which Thomas Fischer has been the head of IT at Synoptik, the number of stores has increased, and as a consequence, the company has become more dependent on the IT platform. This means that they now know which requirements they have to their platform, and their previous solution could not meet these requirements.
- It is not easy to figure out exactly what we need. The identification of needs is difficult, time consuming and almost always ends up being so complex that it is difficult for the supplier to deliver the right solution. We have – very consciously – tried to avoid this in our requirements, Thomas Fischer explains.
Synoptik's requirements included that the environment should be as standardized as possible. It is easier said than done, Thomas Fischer says, but it has been of vital importance to us to reach the conclusion that Synoptik is not so special that complex customizations are required. Consequently, it was fundamental to hear the best practices and the experiences that were suggested by the operation specialists in the process.
- It was important to us to use the solution Itadel suggested − a solution that matches the way they run the operation. And I actually think that this is the reason why they got the deal − in addition to all the other parameters that favored them. They understood what we wanted right away, and they offered a solution that is based on what they already know. In addition, they had a very good price, because we do not require a whole lot of customization. I really almost don't care which server we have downstairs, you know? As long as it works, and we get the accessibility and the response times we need, as well as the right reaction time, Thomas Fischer explains.
To Synoptik, it was not just a question of finding a supplier that could put up servers and cable a switch. As the agreement on IT platforms operation is one of the largest supplier agreements that the optician's chain has, it was extremely important that they find a partner who spoke the same language as themselves.
- We have to see eye to eye. There are 12-13 employees in our IT department. That is not a whole lot, and hardly any of them have spent endless nights studying ITIL processes. In the cooperation with our previous supplier, it was a challenge for us that we did not speak the same language. Now, there is a match. We realized that already when we visited Itadel the first time. Itadel is a far better match than our previous supplier, Thomas Fischer explains.