William Hill - a name that all of us are familiar with, if not from participating in their gaming and leisure offering, then at least from the high visibility that William Hill secured themselves. One of the world’s leading betting and gaming companies, William Hill would not have gotten to where they are today without a high focus on technology and its continuous improvement.
A fair number of years ago, in 2007, William Hill was working on upgrading their website through a NextGen technology programme, using their in-house people. Despite the internal effort, the failure of the programme to produce desired results has led to the NextGen programme being shut down, leading to a £26 million write-off.
The objective of the programme had been to move the company from traditional legacy systems onto a modern IT infrastructure, allowing the company to become more competitive by being more UI and UX focused. William Hill wanted to offer new and improved services, and to respond to customer needs. While the target was ambitious, the project failed on delivering on its objectives.
At that point, the company decided to bring in a third-party provider to develop an in-house technology solution - the replacement project, which has been named ‘Project Trafalgar’.
Project Trafalgar is ‘the biggest technology ever undertaken by William Hill’, which implied ‘a comprehensive overhaul of [their] entire web architecture; with a new front-end experience (desktop, mobile web and native apps).’
It was at that point when Radtac got involved in 2012 to support the Project Trafalgar. Looking at the former NextGen project, the company decided that by adopting Lean and Agile ways of working for the new project, it would lower risk and maximise the project’s chance of success.
Our consultants and coaches started working with William Hill in 2013, providing their teams with expertise and support in implementing Agile. They introduced Agile principles and practices throughout the organisation, from the teams to the senior management. The way this could be done effectively was focusing on one team at a time, then scaling to the other teams, up to the Programme level, and eventually scaling the approach to the entire Online business.
William Hill benefitted from Radtac’s help through various activities in several areas. These included coaching the initial team to allow them to use Scrum efficiently, coaching of the other teams in both Gibraltar and the UK, scaling the approach to the programme level, introducing reporting (e.g. ‘Fever charts’), extending the learnings to other teams outside of Project Trafalgar, and supporting the senior management in the company’s change initiative, including Executive Coaching for the Online Senior team.
As much as we enjoyed working on the project with William Hill, we enjoy its results even more. Project Trafalgar is estimated to deliver savings which are significant to the P+L (the exact numbers are not disclosed).
Moreover, the team performance within the company improved. As an example, one of the teams managed to reduce flow time by 70%, and record an 200% throughput improvement.
We were proud to see William Hill win the award for ‘Best Use of Agile in the Private Sector’ at the Agile Awards 2014, which served as a recognition for the great work the company did - and which we were honoured to be a part of.
“We were faced with unprecedented market change and an inability to respond through delivery. Radtac introduced and skilled us in an Agile approach that made the impossible possible and we’re now delivering far more than anyone thought possible a year ago - and the attitude of our teams is transformed. Everyone is far more positive now.”
Andrew Lee, Former MD William Hill Online