How Asda Navigated Divestiture with Strategic Enterprise Architecture

4 Jul 2024

by Stuart Armstrong

In a webinar on 20 June 2024, Peter Grayley, Senior Solutions Architecture Manager at Asda, shared invaluable insights with Claire Sporton, Global Director of Customer Experience at Ardoq, into managing the colossal transition project that followed Asda’s divestiture from Walmart in 2021. Peter compared this massive project to “eating an elephant,” meaning it had to be approached “one bite at a time.” It involved identifying over 1,200 applications intertwined with complex dependencies, all while ensuring the company continued to operate efficiently.

The Challenge: Divesting From Walmart

After more than 20 years as part of Walmart, Asda faced the monumental task of separating its systems and services from the retail giant. This required navigating a multi-year transitional services agreement to continue providing services while gradually establishing independent operations. Peter aptly likened this to “changing an engine on a jumbo jet while in flight,” underscoring the magnitude and complexity of the task.

The Role of Enterprise Architecture (EA)

Enterprise Architecture (EA) played a critical role in this transition. As Peter highlighted, it was essential for the team to build a comprehensive and accurate view across the entire landscape and understand the interconnectedness of various systems. This view was crucial for plotting a course from the current state to the desired future state.

A mature EA model was indispensable for visualizing and communicating this journey, particularly to the leadership organization. During the early days, the project was divided into manageable chunks, with an emphasis on incremental delivery to ensure value at every stage. Engaging communities and crowdsourcing quality data were key strategies in this phased approach.

"Having a mature Enterprise Architecture practice, being able to see across the whole landscape and understand the interconnectedness of our applications was really vital to the success of this endeavor."

Peter Grayley, Senior Solutions Architecture Manager, Asda

Adopting Ardoq

In the first year of divestiture, Asda adopted our platform to define applications, describe their integrations, and visualize these connections while promoting collaboration across departments and lines of business. The partnership is ongoing; the team most recently initiated a session to roll out design modeling, expanding the use of Ardoq to cover various processes and teams and ensure a unified understanding of the landscape in order to break down silos.

Engaging Stakeholders

Engaging stakeholders presented a significant challenge, particularly with multiple diverse information systems in place. The goal was to surface the right information at the right time and in the right way to show value to different stakeholders in the organization. Asda leveraged the critical mass of content it owned to attract interest and drive engagement. This approach led to a "tsunami of requests" from people wanting access to tailored visualizations based on the same underlying data.

Walmart, for instance, which Asda was divesting from, needed a shared view of the landscape to plan the decommissioning of various applications. Working from a single source of truth allowed both Asda and Walmart to align their strategies and objectives effectively.

Overcoming Challenges in Divestiture

One of the key challenges was keeping data up-to-date over the long term. Ardoq features Surveys and Broadcasts, which can be used to push communications out to owners to maintain and update information. New owners can easily be added when people leave the organization, so that data accuracy is upheld.

Technical teams were particularly interested in the target landscape, including both owned and third-party applications linked to Asda. Business analysts, delivery leaders, and service managers could see which applications were in scope for different pieces of work, aiding in tasks such as decommissioning.

Moving Forward: From the Elephant to the Cheetah

Asda recently piloted solution design modeling, creating models directly in Ardoq. This automated visualization saved time and provided real-time, up-to-date information that was accessible to everyone. The outcomes are clear: an improved architectural view of the landscape, better compliance, and meaningful visualizations that help key stakeholders answer their own questions.

Looking ahead, Asda aims to move from an "elephant" to a "cheetah" by integrating real-time insights from a CMDB (Configuration Management Database), using Ardoq as the application master. Asda hopes to drive significant value with this latest development, which will also provide impact analysis and support for natural language queries.

Key Takeaways

  • Start with a Plan: Develop a clear roadmap but stay flexible. Engage communities early and drive value progressively.
  • Adopt Incrementally: Aim to deliver value from the start so you can build momentum and buy-in from stakeholders.
  • Engage Widely: Understand the challenges stakeholders face, and collaborate to deliver meaningful value and communicate benefits.

Asda's journey demonstrates the importance of strategic enterprise architecture, effective stakeholder engagement, and continuous collaboration in navigating complex projects. By leveraging the Ardoq EA platform, Asda not only managed a successful divestiture but also laid the foundation for future agility and innovation.

Learn more about how to align technology and business strategy by watching the full webinar - ASDA: The Role of EA in Europe's Largest Divestiture.

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Stuart Armstrong Stuart Armstrong Stuart is a Senior Content Writer at Ardoq. He specializes in making the complex accessible. And puns.
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