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An IT Spectacle: Specsavers Drives Operational Efficiency with PagerDuty Automation

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Size: 45,000+

Industry: Healthcare / Retail

Location: St Andrew, Guernsey

Key Integrations:


Specsavers is an international healthcare business offering optical and audiology services. “It’s not just about getting your prescription,” says Andy Slater, Observability Platform Enablement Lead. “We put a huge amount of focus into enriching the lives of our customers—for example, identifying potential health issues at an early stage.”

Specsavers operates in a complex landscape with a global supply chain that manufactures over 90% of lenses and frames sold in its 2,000+ stores. Further, the medical devices and machines found in the niche space of optometry presents challenges. The equipment is built to last. And while entirely functional for its intended purpose, older machines are often unable to connect through API services or efficiently transfer data between systems. Over the years, the company developed its own business processes and in-house technologies to address these complexities.

Specsavers embarked on a digital transformation to support its expansion into new markets. However, legacy and disparate systems hampered its ability to grow efficiently and be agile. To solve the challenges of legacy architecture and applications, Specsavers engineers turned to automation through orchestration. “Automation helps us deal with our technical debt,” says Simon Hamilton-Peach, Platform Engineer, Observability. “It bridges between legacy systems and helps integrate new systems with old systems.”

A Framework for Standardization

Over the span of a decade, point use cases for automation popped up throughout Specsavers. However, only a handful of subject matter experts knew how to use tools such as the OSS platform, Rundeck, and there was no agreed-to standard. As the importance of using automation to achieve business goals increased, it became necessary to approach it from an enterprise perspective.

Specsavers’ Platform team selected PagerDuty Runbook Automation Self-Hosted as the platform to orchestrate their automation processes. This solution provided the granular levels of control the business required. “We needed to apply a level of governance to the way automation was being used across the estate,” says Andy Slater. “The approach wasn’t to seize control. We created a lightweight framework, including standards and best practices that closed the automation gap without stifling development.”

PagerDuty Runbook Automation Self-Hosted has been successfully rolled out across the organization. Today, Specsavers executes over 120,000 jobs each month—equivalent to 225 days of effort or the work of 30 employees. “The system we designed with Runbook Automation Self-Hosted gives the ability for our users to be able to conveniently and easily use, create and perform automations and solutions,” says Simon Hamilton-Peach. “The complexity typically experienced when using automation is completely removed.”

Quote from Simon Hamilton-Peach, Platform engineer: "The complexity typically experienced when using automation is completely removed."

A Spec-tacular Success: Automating the IT Service Desk

Previously, addressing IT service desk inquiries was a manual process. Service Analysts handled incoming calls, troubleshooting issues using knowledge-based articles (KBs). This required a high level of technical expertise as they guided in-store partners through step-by-step instructions. Complex issues were often escalated to the Level 3 support team.

With Runbook Automation Self-Hosted, the IT service desk has automated the steps within the KBs. With the click of a button, service analysts can execute a runbook or series of runbooks to fix the majority of problems. The team saves a huge amount of time by eliminating manual work, and the number of escalations to the Level 3 support team has been reduced by automating repeat issues.

Further, we can now bring in personnel to the service desk more skilled in customer service since less technical expertise is required. Today, a junior employee can achieve effectiveness within one month, a 75% reduction in time from the previously required technical training.

“Our service desk fundamentally relies on Runbook Automation Self-Hosted,” says Andy Slater. “It’s changed the way our metric of success is defined—it’s driving the right behaviors. It’s less about technical fixes, because that will take care of itself. Now, it’s all about customer satisfaction.”

Visionary Efficiency: Edge Automation & Retail Store Operations

Runbook Automation Self-Hosted has helped manage remote edge systems within its 2,000+ stores. “The technical debt isn’t consistent—we have different generations of technology within almost every store.” Andy Slater says. “Our software deployment teams rely heavily on Runbook Automation Self-Hosted to manage this complexity and improve efficiencies.”

The deployment team has a standard build, and then a number of different deviations dependent on the specific store configuration. When teams need to upgrade something or do some remediation work, Runbook Automation Self-Hosted helps simplify those divergent paths on how to approach each store, and helps with push-button remedial fixes in the case that something else breaks.

An Eye-Opening Improvement: More Appointments, More Revenue

Specsavers addressed the challenge of missed or canceled appointments using Runbook Automation Self-Hosted. Text reminders were automated, giving customers the opportunity to cancel appointments. Every four hours, PagerDuty Runbook Automation Self-Hosted gets a list of around 500 customers requesting cancellations. Using Runbook Automation Self-Hosted, individual stores appointments are then canceled, freeing up availability for others, maximizing completed appointments, and increasing revenue. “This is just one example of how we’re driving real business value with Process Automation—we’re increasing store availability, which means more revenue for our stores,” says Simon Hamilton-Peach.

Seeing Clear Results

In less than one year, Specsavers has implemented and realized major benefits using PagerDuty Runbook Automation Self-Hosted, including:

  • Operational efficiency at scale: Widespread adoption has expanded the benefits of previous siloed automations and complex, manual workflows throughout the company by centralizing IT support across 2000+ stores.
  • Tasks resolved faster: 120,000 executions saves 225 days of manual effort per month, or the work of 30 employees.
  • Faster onboarding: 75% reduction in the amount of time it takes to train a Service Analyst.
  • Improved customer experience: One-click, first-time fixes allow Service Analysts to focus their work on improving customer satisfaction.
  • Increased revenue: Real-time appointment availability maximizes the number of customer visits in stores and potential revenue.

“The return we’ve gotten using PagerDuty Automation is phenomenal,” says Andy Slater. “We can track ROI on the effort that we put in as a team, and use the data to make business decisions about resource-sharing across departments. It’s a really powerful business case that we’re excited to continue building on into the future.”

Focusing on the Future

Specsavers is continuously improving its automation practice, and plans to use third party plugins like ServiceNow, Jira, and Cyberark in the future. The team is also working with partner Accenture to scale the use of automation to manage the extensive technology and supply chain complexities. Accenture will develop processes and scripts that teams can then integrate and deploy in Runbook Automation Self-Hosted. This will free up time to tackle bigger problems where there might currently be temporary fixes in place.

To find out how PagerDuty Automation can help you automate and delegate business and IT processes, contact your account manager or request a demo.