Xibis was ecstatic to be invited, by Sainsbury's, to take part in their yearly Hackathon, which took place in June at their Support Centre in Walsgrave, Coventry.
The theme of the Hackathon was centred around logistics, where their logistics team presented 6 key problems they wanted to solve. They described inefficiencies in how warehouse staff pick products, how the warehouse is organised, and how lorries are moved around the yard to the correct delivery bay. Others described issues with gathering business intelligence to report KPIs on the above areas.
The overall aim of the Hackathon was to come up with ideas and prototype solutions to show how these problems could be solved. Given the scale of the Sainsbury’s logistical operations, small percentage increases in efficiency can save millions of pounds.
This was a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our capabilities. We were able to free up some of our senior .NET Developers, and we sent Darren, Gareth and Umair to join the Sainsbury's team to take part.
Sainsbury's split everyone into 6 teams, and each team was given a problem posed by their Logistics team. Our guys were part of a team which included 6 other Sainsbury's people from different fields like Developers, QA, Designers and Team Leads.
Our team were allocated to look at the collection of and reporting on various KPIs relating to depot operations. The problem being faced by Sainsbury's was that Depot Managers had to complete detailed spreadsheets containing various operational statistics on a monthly basis. This would then be emailed to the Finance team who would copy/paste and manually manipulate the spreadsheets into new spreadsheets with regional and national coverage.
The process is arduous, taking up a significant amount of a whole teams’ time. They spend considerable time preparing the reports for the leadership team, which means they don’t have time to analyse the data in detail. In addition, they don’t have the time to talk to the reporting Depot Managers about what they did to improve productivity (so they can share innovations with other depots). Staff holidays also compound the issues faced.
The team also included two members from the Finance team so they were on hand to provide more detailed information and agree the scope of the work. The aim was to improve the efficiency of producing reports and make the data more accessible to the business. Each team member was allocated responsibilities and tasks according to their capabilities.
Within the short time of the Hackathon, the team had implemented a spreadsheet processing system to pull in data from the Depot Manager spreadsheets and contain that in a processable database. This was then displayed using a filterable front end with dashboards, to help see where there may be patterns/issues within the depots. The team was doing so well, they even had a bit of time to catch the England game.
Even though this was a Hackathon, the team wanted to make sure good structure/patterns were used on the back end to allow the product to be extended and used, rather than just take the ideas from it.
After all their hard work, the Xibis guys sat down for a well deserved Nando's.
We received some great feedback from Andrew Boaden, who is Sainsbury's Senior Software Engineering Manager:
"It was really great to see Darren, Gareth and Umair at the event. They did an amazing job and their team came 2nd which is really impressive.
We were really impressed with how quickly the team picked up our Luna style sheets and got the machines setup. They developed a really good solution, which is reflected in the 2nd place. Xibis have a great team and it was fantastic to work with them."
We would like to thank Sainsbury's for inviting us to take part, the Sainsbury's team for the welcome and collaboration, and to the Xibis guys for all their hard work, total commitment, and enthusiasm. The guys really enjoyed the experience, and the opportunity to collaborate with the Sainsbury's team.
We hope to be involved in more events like this in the future.