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Interview with Enterprise Architect Pernille Damtoft, Coop

“QualiWare truly shows its value in a large organization where you can't simply sketch a system landscape on the back of a napkin," Enterprise Architect Pernille Damtoft succinctly captures why Coop has been using QualiWare for over two decades. Yet, there's more to this narrative.

Coop: A Modern and Change-willing Organization
The retail chain Coop is a large organization with  more than 1,000 stores and 40,000 employees, and an annual revenue of approximately 42 billion DKK. It is also an exceedingly ambitious network and transformation business, constantly testing new opportunities to stay competitive in the retail market, Pernille explains: 

"I see COOP as a very change-willing and curious organization. When we come up with an idea and create some proof of concepts that demonstrate a positive purpose, we usually are allowed to go all in and implement it." 

According to Pernille, this has led to the evolution of QualiWare's use over the years.

How QualiWare Evolved at Coop
Long before the turn of the millennium, QualiWare was somewhat of a niche tool within Coop, utilized by only a few individuals in the IT department to gain an overview of the application landscape. However, it has since transformed into a system that is widely adopted throughout the organization, with numerous users capable of independently maintaining data. This includes its use by the finance department to document financial processes in relation to internal and external audits, GDPR, and ESG, effectively serving as a compliance tool.

Technology and Business Hand in Hand
The significant success of QualiWare at Coop can largely be attributed to Pernille's role in the organization. She effectively straddles both the IT department, focusing on the technical possibilities of QualiWare, and the business side, addressing its needs and opportunities.

Originally trained as a production engineer, Pernille has spent many years working with processes and process optimization. "I have a mindset that thinks in processes, and I've always used this to understand the user situations people face," Pernille shares.

This background led her, some years ago, to be asked if she would represent the business in a major ERP project, marking her entry into the IT world. This transition meant moving from being a user of systems to being someone who builds them, as she puts it.

In the IT Department
Today, Pernille is positioned within Coop's IT department, where she wears two hats: one as a technology expert, focusing on enterprise architecture (EA) modelling and the documentation of the system landscape as well as all IT systems and applications. The other hat is that of being the administrator of QualiWare.

"I configure and drive changes. And I'm the one who teaches when we bring in new process people, providing them with tips and tricks and support when they encounter something they can't do. I'm very close to the users, and they have direct access to me, for instance, through Teams," Pernille explains.

Pernille has three close colleagues she refers to as her governance board. Together, they discuss the direction of QualiWare in Coop.

Data Quality Above All
In recent years, Pernille has placed a sharp focus on enhancing the data quality within Coop's QualiWare platform. For her, maintaining high data quality is key to ensuring the tool remains useful for everyone in the organization – and that all feel motivated to use it.

"For many years, we have worked to have all our solution owners maintain the information about their applications, etc. Data must be maintained by those who have the knowledge and those who own the object. We have also engaged the business side, as they need to update GDPR processes and draw their own flow diagrams for financial processes," Pernille shares.

Pernille constantly reminds users to update data whenever something changes. "In that sense, I am also a librarian. I continuously push for data quality, so that's another role I play," Pernille laughs.

Usability is critical for ensuring all users remember to update data. If it becomes too difficult, updates will not be made sufficiently. Therefore, Pernille is dedicated to addressing both minor and major barriers that prevent users from documenting:

"We have done a lot to improve usability, making it easier to maintain data. For example, we have simplified our governance workflow, renamed some of the buttons from the standard version, and added help texts," Pernille explains.

If users themselves come up with ideas on how to improve usability, Pernille is very receptive:

"I'm quick to embrace the idea. And if I can't see the possibility myself, then QualiWare’s consultants can surely assist me. I don't think I've ever encountered a 'we can't do that.' It's always, 'We can't do it like that,' but then we find a workaround and a way forward. And QualiWare's consultants are really good at providing advice and helping to see the possibilities."

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Implementing QualiWare also requires creating awareness: reminding users that QualiWare exists, that data needs to be updated, and practically assisting users with their updates as needed. Pernille is in charge of all this. Moreover, she sends out a newsletter quarterly to demonstrate QualiWare's evolution:

"I've visited various departments to talk about QualiWare. And, I make extensive use of one-on-one support via Teams instead of just telling someone to update this or that. This way, I also get to teach them how it's done," Pernille shares. 

"The downside is that you shouldn't become so service-minded that you end up doing everything yourself. But I've had several sessions over Teams where people say: 'Oh, is that all?'"

What does people think of QualiWare in Coop?
According to Pernille, efforts to educate users, remove obstacles, and thereby improve data quality have made a significant difference in how QualiWare is generally perceived at Coop.

"If I walk down the hall today and ask what they think about QualiWare, there won't be anyone standing with flags and balloons. It's still seen as an administrative tool, somewhat of a necessary evil. However, the benefits are clear: we have an overview, we have control over the pieces - meaning the processes and applications, and we know who is responsible for what. There's definitely been an increase in goodwill, and resistance has become almost invisible," Pernille explains.

Advice for new QualiWare Users
Pernille offers a few pieces of advice for new customers starting with QualiWare:

Start small and simple, and then you can always expand.

Ensure data is updated where the knowledge resides. Avoid making it a closed system for a very small user group. It might be necessary to start it off this way, but afterwards: let it out and live, so the data quality is maintained. That is what has really made a difference for us.
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