Established in 2006 in the United Kingdom, boohoo Group PLC is a leading online fashion group, home to an incredible portfolio of 13 market-leading brands, bringing up to the minute clothing, shoes, accessories and beauty to millions of customers across the globe.
The boohoo Group’s vision is to lead the fashion e-commerce market globally, in a way that delivers for its customers, people, suppliers and stakeholders. The Group’s focus is to maintain an outstanding customer proposition, with the latest fashion at great prices, combined with excellent customer service. To this end, the Group has a plan of continuous investment in its systems, infrastructure and technology to ensure it offers an optimal online shopping experience as it looks to build for the future and further cement its position as a leader in global fashion e-commerce.
As an extremely fast-moving consumer goods environment, operations and distribution are absolutely crucial to Boohoo. They have multiple sites and on a normal day one site alone can distribute around 250,000 items, and a massive 650,000 items during peak time. In addition to the sheer quantity of items, the team work to extremely high customer service levels for example, customers can order items up to midnight for next day delivery including on a Sunday. It is a 24/7 operation and as such, maintenance is carried out during the night as well as the day. Therefore successful asset and maintenance management is paramount to everything.
In 2018, Paul Daughtry, joined Boohoo as Engineering Team Leader and one of the first things he was tasked with was looking for a new, online system to effectively manage all assets and maintenance. Paul explained:
I had used other systems previously and replaced them with Agility – I knew the system inside and out and was aware a number of the team had used it before as well. In addition, one of the advantages of Agility is that you can configure it to fit with your specific needs.
“With this in mind and the fact that the Boohoo Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) schedule is not static, I knew that we could customise areas of Agility to work the way we wanted. This would mean instead of one of our guys spending three, possibly four hours changing a PPM, it could be done with a click, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Admin is a real bug bear and with some systems you can spend ages making changes, I recognised that with Agility this would not be the case and that, we could remove a lot of the admin for the team. For example, we have 32 engineers across one of our sites, it’s spread over a couple of areas, and you could literally be half a mile down the road, away from a desktop, but still need to be signing off a work order. The Agility mobile app enables our team to do just that there and then, and the information can then be instantly picked up centrally.
“We have strict KPIs in place – units going round, items must be placed, machines must work, it’s absolutely paramount to what we do. If next day delivery is impacted for example, a refund must be given, so this has to be avoided. With staff that must induct 1,000 items per hour (pack around 30,000 per hour per site), it’s all about volume, and if one of the modules or inducts goes down then it is a massive issue.
My team and I needed a system that was going to manage all our assets and parts, our maintenance, our resources to fix issues, and our processes. We wanted a solution that was user-friendly and would save us time, Agility saves lots of time in many ways.”
As a flexible and customisable solution, Boohoo have been able to configure Agility to work for their specific requirements. All the team can easily access the system through the dedicated mobile app 24/7, and the real-time data feeds back into the core system, providing an up-to-the-minute picture of exactly what is happening.
Boohoo take advantage of the majority of Agility functionality available, and the team are big believers in maximising the use of any software they have in place.
As Paul went onto share:
Live dashboards in Agility are great. The team can see the top 10 areas of concern, and these are updated in a very short space of time so they are constantly relevant, and the guys can jump on what needs to be done straight away. We have a high number of switch points and the root cause analysis within Agility enables us to focus on these areas, and we can trust that in Agility these work orders are prioritised automatically. We’ve only had Agility for 3 years, but we now have an up time of 99% which we are really proud of and obviously makes a massive difference to our operations.
Driven from the top down and from day 1 of having Agility in place, the team made sure they also had processes and procedures to follow, which has led to great utilisation and means Agility has really been embraced throughout the business.
“If you don’t raise a job in Agility, it doesn’t get done – compliance is vital and everything that happens, happens in the Agility system. We can answer questions about our PPM completion straight off – it’s 100% constantly, even if a PPM has been missed, Agility enables us to pick it up straight away. We can also answer compliance and audit questions immediately as the information is readily available in Agility.
For example, Boohoo Group launched an audit team in October 2021, we know we can simply and easily provide them with access to everything they want to know, and we can see everything they want us to do. In addition, we recently had a fire audit, we of course follow legislation on checks and Agility notifies us when we need to check the fire pumps, generators, etc. so we know we’re always up-to-date and we’ve done it.”
Paul went onto explain that for he and his team, Agility is fundamental to what they do.
Everything runs around Agility, everything. It’s integral to what we are doing so much so that we rolled it out across our other sites and will be doing so with our new sites that are set to open soon. We will all use Agility and follow the same procedures and processes, no matter which site. It helps us to ensure we can meet with the demands of keeping a 24/7 operation successfully on track.
SSG Insight provide system support, account management, consultancy, and training, all as part of our aftersales care. We work hard to build partnerships with every, individual customers so that we can work closely with them. Paul was happy to share:
“I knew some of the team before being at Boohoo and specifically approached our Account Manager at the start. We’ve always been able to speak openly and honestly, and it does feel like a partnership which means we have a really good working relationship.
We know the system really well so it’s not often that we contact the system support team, but I know that they are there and in fairness when we did call outside of UK working hours the other week, the phone was answered by the team in Australia.
I also like the fact that there is an opportunity to be involved in testing new developments, and to input into what might come next on the development roadmap – I’ve had many a conversation with the Head of Tech and it’s great to be able to do that.”
During the Covid Pandemic, the SSG Insight team ran bite-sized webinars covering how to take advantage of different functionality within Agility. Paul explained:
“Our PPM planner looks after training and attended the webinar about the Training and Certification module within Agility. It is one of few modules we hadn’t used yet, and we wanted to see if it had potential for us. He took part in the webinar, thought it was a great idea, and we’ve since started using it. What it means is that we don’t have to constantly keep updating a spreadsheet and try to look at it to see who needs what. Things like which staff need Manual Handling training for example, are easily identifiable within Agility now, as well as other training. From a training and certification management perspective, it’s easy and quick to see who needs what. It's things like this that save us lots of time and Agility is good at that.”
Paul went onto talk about inventory and stores, and how Boohoo use Agility here:
Equipment and asset lists in Agility are massive for us. The widgets on screen show us what’s missing in terms of our assets and parts, if we haven’t got it then we need to know, and Agility gives us this information automatically. Our Stores Manager is extremely tidy and very methodical (goes with the territory), and staff follow suit and they do put things away. Everything is barcoded and captured in Agility with minimum and maximum stock levels, supplier details, alternative suppliers – everything is captured. Our engineers are responsible for making sure they have the parts they need for the work orders on their list, they can book out parts for their jobs on their mobile, so we always make sure we have what we need in stock.
“Agility is an out of the box product, you can just take it out and use it, but we wanted to be able to configure it, and not just at the start of using it. Boohoo is growing and as a business, we deliberately chose a system that would evolve with us. I have no doubt we will need more variations as time goes on, to meet our specific needs. I also have no doubt that the team at SSG Insight can help us – as I said earlier, we don’t have a set schedule and needed to find a way to make it work, the guys at SSG Insight found a way. I’m confident that we will continue to work in partnership and together find ways to work through any configurations we need.
Something that is coming and will be a massive bonus to us is the red tagging procedure for picking trollies, Boohoo impairment can use the URL to show specific issues on an exact trolley which will make things so easy.
We have just opened a massive, new, state-of-the-art manufacturing centre in Leicester, which of course will have Agility. With plans to expand further, we would hope to implement Agility in all of them both in the UK and any overseas.
Mobile is also massive for us and a huge focus, it’s come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, and it’s good to see positive change being made. The core Agility product has had additions and there is better integration than ever, all of which lends itself to what we need. We are already starting to look into IoT for condition-based maintenance which is all part of Agility Connect and great to see.”
In conclusion, Paul shared:
We would never have entertained Agility at Boohoo if it wasn’t going to work – I put my neck on the line when I first got here, but I knew Agility would work for us and the feedback from staff about it is consistently great. I would highly recommend Agility; take the time to look at what it can do for you as Agility can make it so easy. Engage with the SSG Insight team like we do as they have some great knowledge which can support you to achieve your goals.
If you had to say just one thing about Agility, what would it be?
“Boohoo doesn’t stop, Agility works well and makes life so much easier.”