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10 000 PCs in 1500 stores in 21 countries and counting: How the JYSK IT team manages to stay small yet improve the employee experience with Applixure

Since Lars Larsen founded JYSK in 1979, the Danish home retailer has grown and has taken “Scandinavian sleeping and living” everywhere, in accordance with its mission: First across Denmark, then the rest of Scandinavia, most of Europe, and finally all over the world. You will find their stores in countries such as Canada, Kazakhstan, or Dubai.

For the JYSK Client IT Team, it means keeping 10 000 PCs in 1500 stores and 21 countries running smoothly, while the rest are either still managed by their sister company, Dänisches Bettenlager, which is already being merged into JYSK, or by franchisees. 

 

If you live in Europe and haven’t yet seen JYSK logos in your country, maybe yours has been served by Dänisches Bettenlager. With the merger, these stores are now being rebranded to JYSK. At the time of writing, the stores in Germany were still operating under the Dänisches Bettenlager brand.


Adding 150 stores in a year and expanding to a new country every year or two is not a simple feat for IT, which needs to equip every store and employee with PCs and applications. Everyone, including customers, must be kept happy with smoothly working technology at the cash register, in the store’s back office, at local HQ, and not forgetting those working from home. The upcoming merger will raise the game even further.

How does JYSK’s IT department keep up with the growth rate and even improve quality with such a small team? What are their secrets to high efficiency and satisfaction?

Who would be better to reveal this than key persons of the Client IT Infrastructure, IT Team Manager Flemming Thøgersen and Senior IT Operations Consultant Stinus Stoumann Hoeks. They have worked together and with Client IT for quite some time already. Thøgersen joined JYSK in 2007, and Stoumann Hoeks has been with the team for 12 years in two separate stints, so they certainly have perspectives and insights to share with us.

When Thøgersen joined the company, it had just 120 people at its headquarters and 600 stores to manage. Today, there are approximately 410 employees in headquarters, and the  team manages 1500 stores in 21 countries directly. In addition, the merger with Dänisches Bettenlager will bring the number to 28 countries and 2,800 stores.

 

Behind the storefronts is a large enterprise with many offices

Although JYSK, like any retailer, is experienced by customers at the storefront, either physical or online, the size and complexity of what happens behind the store and beyond is not often apparent. When you visit a store, you may not see many PCs or staff members. Maybe you’ll see a point-of-sale (POS) machine operated by the cashier when paying for your purchase. A modern retailer is quite a lightweight operation.

But if you take a closer look, there is often another POS for redundancy and rush hours, and a couple of PCs elsewhere for the staff to order products for clients and fill up stock.

And although you may see only one or two staff members on your visit, there are many more working in shifts to keep the store open from morning till evening and on weekends and holidays. Typically, a JYSK store has 4 PCs and 6 to 10 people working in shifts. Multiply that by 1,500.

Stores cannot operate alone, however. Each country has a local headquarters to keep JYSK’s stores in that country running, and the chain growing. There are marketing campaigns to implement, new people to hire, store locations to find, build and open, and the whole local operation to manage and report back to Denmark.

There are people for marketing, management, expansion, HR, and much more, requiring modern devices in order to succeed in their jobs.

And finally, the HQ in Aarhus, Denmark, and support functions in Poland and other countries, that keeps the whole multinational retailer running: leaders, designers, purchasing managers, marketing people, IT, accounting, and many more.

Jysk

Why JYSK wanted IT to focus on the employee experience

As JYSK was growing fast, it became apparent that IT needs to be part of the core, not just a support function. “In this new growth plan, critical success factors were described, and the maximum uptime was stated for end-point devices hoping to give stores and office workers a better experience”, says Thøgersen.

At that time, JYSK did not have any idea of how well the PCs were performing. Support tickets were the only data available. The team would get a ticket and go and fix the problem, but other than that they didn’t have an overall understanding of how the PCs were working. 

“We didn’t really know how point-of-sale machines or laptops were performing. We were reacting to support tickets and hoping that underneath everything was fine,” Thøgersen explains. "But with the company’s new growth plan, this was not going to be enough. And it wasn’t good enough for our IT team either,” he adds. “The company wanted us to do better than we were doing. Growth required better experience with less tech hassle for the employees.” 

 

“But it wasn’t a specific incident as such,” says Thøgersen. At some point, the point-of-sale devices started to perform slowly. IT team spent about half of the year trying to figure out why and to find a workaround. According to Thøgersen, this was one of the things that started the whole process within JYSK: “When POSs are having problems, it starts to cost money easily. It is not good when customers have to wait for being able to pay, and some potential revenue may walk out of the door in a lost sale.”

Working half-blind

At the time, JYSK’s IT department did not have much data to base decisions on how end-point devices – that is, computers and applications – were serving employees or not serving them. As with so many other IT organizations, they only saw their end-point environment through support tickets. Thøgersen explains:

“The problem with relying on support tickets for visibility is that you don’t see annoying things. People know that it takes them time to contact support, and it’s probably going to be down-prioritized, so they try to live with the issue instead. You only see the critical breakdown issues."

 

The reality with tickets is that they are seldom properly tagged or classified. It is not possible to know any contingency issues without an excellent memory. For example, if a guy at the head office goes to the office in the morning, turns on his laptop, and it takes 7 minutes before he can work.

 

Long logon times was one such thing that the Client IT team was not aware of before. “That’s how it is. That’s what they are used to, just regular business…but that’s not how it should be. These things never come through the support,” explains Flemming.

 

Other similar things include crashing applications and software installations that do not behave as they should. For example, Outlook crashes, which are very common but are also something people are used to living with.

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The JYSK way: how to manage 10 000 computers with just nine people

In general, JYSK’s environment is highly standardized and their stores even more so. Every year JYSK selects which PC model they are going to order for the coming period. Software is also highly standardized. However, for some specialized functions, there might be good reasons to differ from the standards; for example, Marketing may need to use Macs, or internal web development might need Linux. However, they often need to support them themselves: “You created the problems; you solve them.”

JYSK’s IT team tries to do as little manual work as possible and to make everything as efficient as possible. They like to have things automated and hands-free. That is why they can manage 10 000 PCs in 21 countries with a small team of eight or nine people.

For example, when a new computer is being put into use, the entire procedure of installing Windows and all basic applications is fully automated, so there is a strict procedure on how to load stages. Two hours later, a fully functioning PC is ready. Basically, it is a Microsoft System Center Configuration Management (SCCM) environment. IT team just selects if it’s for a store or office and makes a few other basic selections. It’s the same whether the PC is in Hungary or Sweden, or wherever. The whole approach of JYSK is not to be a bloated, rigid enterprise. Instead, they have very little hierarchy. “ ’Pragmatic’ is probably the best word to describe us.”

There is lots of freedom and responsibility. Every now and then, good ideas arise from stores and are implemented quickly throughout the organization. “We would describe our way of working as agile and pragmatic, not in any formal way. As an adjective, not a philosophy.”

 

Taking it to the next level: Gaining visibility

To provide a better experience for their employees, JYSK’s Client IT needed better insight into their end-point environment. They needed to know how computers and applications worked and served employees – and when they didn’t. They needed to know what they have, what was installed, and what has been updated or not updated. And how employees used computers and applications. Also, they needed to make those annoying problems visible so that they could find patterns and correlations to fix those general issues that were affecting many people.


In short, they needed a way to monitor and improve the digital employee experience. They sought a tool that could give them the required knowledge yet do it in a way that suits a small, agile, and pragmatic team despite the size of their environment.

They wanted a tool that makes their life easier while also improving the environment. And they wanted the results fast and easy.

They didn’t want another project. Or any systems that are hard to learn, configure and use. Finding such a tool was not going to be easy.

It turns out that though there are plenty of “solutions” from big software companies, they all seemed way too complicated, and the results were way too hard and far off.

Taking it to the next level: Gaining visibility

The team was feeling discouraged until they had an epiphany when trying a product. JYSK Client IT team spent quite a long time searching for the right tool for JYSK from different vendors. At some point, it felt pretty discouraging. The tools were all very advanced, but at the same time, they seemed to require quite much work and effort before they could benefit JYSK. There was also a timeline and person-hours to be considered. 

It was very tedious to work with big software companies and to get answers to questions. “It was not aligned with our company, with how we like to do things.” “We didn’t want another project in themselves.”


“At the same time, we had another project with Finnish security consultant Sami Laiho, and he gave us a hint to take a look at Applixure.”

A feeling of relief

When JYSK’s IT team tried Applixure, they felt relieved already during the early phases of the trial. “Our goals didn’t seem so hard to reach anymore. We could adopt Applixure today and develop from there.”  The team understood that they didn’t need a tool that can fix everything but rather a tool that shows them what needs to be fixed.

“In hindsight, we reached our initial goal so quickly that it is actually quite hard to remember.” “That was the high point for me, in the middle of the test phase,” says Thøgersen. Stoumann Hoeks continues: 

“Applixure was off-the-shelf, ready to use. Easy to get started with. Easy to use day-to-day. And no hassle.”

 

According to Thøgersen and Stoumann Hoeks Applixure, as a company, has been quite easy to collaborate with. Easy and straightforward. This works with JYSK culture. “Pragmatic. As a system and as a company.” “With us being a Denmark-based company and Applixure a Finnish company, we tend to think in similar ways.” In Scandinavia, the cost per employee is relatively high, as so it seems that things are done in a bit different way than in some other countries where the cost is not so high.

Thøgersen and Stoumann Hoeks were happy with how Applixure stood out from what they have seen, how easy it was to get started with.

“The ease in getting started and starting to use it, but also how intuitive it is, really makes Applixure stand out. And company-wise, it was easy to deal with Applixure.”

 

“Applixure feels very modern and easy to use. Including its API. It is a pleasure to use." Or as Thøgersen puts it: “Applixure is a pleasure.”

 

Becoming data-driven and proactive

“I don’t think we see Applixure as a way to see problems as such,” Thøgersen explains, “For us, it’s more like a tool that gives us an overview of the state of our computers. For example, if we generally have too little memory, or disk space is running out.”

“When we have a team meeting, and someone says, “did you see this in Applixure?” IT team has an unofficial goal of raising the Applixure Score by fixing general issues. For example, they are in the process of going from Windows 7 to 10 in the store computers. That would bring the score upwards. The general purpose for them to use Applixure is to have a place to look for general topics. It helps the team discover general problems. For example, it might be a graphics driver that is causing problems since the last OS update.

Now, when we get a ticket, we can go to Applixure to see if others are having similar problems as well that we haven’t heard about yet.

Applixure helps JYSK to be more data-driven. Previously, they needed quite many tickets for essentially the same problem to find out they had a general issue. Now, when they have one ticket, they can go to Applixure to see if others have similar problems that they haven’t heard about yet.

“Applixure has definitely allowed us to become more proactive. That was also our goal.”

 

Securing things

Security is essential for JYSK, Stoumann Hoeks says: “Applixure helps us to see if we have unpatched or non-compliant software, and it gives us a good overview of where we stand, allowing us to make improvements. For example, In the office environment, we have been using Windows 10 for quite some time, but according to Applixure, we seem to have outdated security patches.”

In the store environment, JYSK’s PCs are quite standardized and thus well known, but Applixure helps them to see how much behind they really are – that is, how many different versions and builds they really have.

Does knowledge increase pain?

Some think they don’t need to know what they cannot fix, thinking awareness increases pain. But not Thøgersen and Stoumann Hoeks. 
“No. There might be something we can’t easily do something about, but at least the data gives us visibility to see if this is a general thing or not. We can try to find patterns and correlations." On the other hand, patterns and correlations are very hard to notice from normal support ticket streams, as everybody describes them in different ways.

“Having more facts is definitely more welcome.”

 

So was it just plain sailing?

It seems so easy and straightforward getting started with Applixure and getting results, but is it really? Did they encounter any difficulties along the way?

“Not really. Normal technical challenges.”

Anything to improve on, then?

“We would like to be able to set thresholds.”

Currently, Applixure aims for zero-configuration, and features like setting thresholds may complicate use, and they seem to understand it.

“We understand that there is a fine line between ease of use and being able to make adjustments.”


The future: Doubling up and saving 20%

The next big thing for the JYSK team is the merger with the sister company, Dänisches Bettenlager, which will double the number of PCs to manage. While the team is working out the practicalities of the merger, Thøgersen is envisioning ways to take them to another level with Applixure: “We aim to take it a bit further and automate things. Today, we need to login to find things and fix it somehow.”

Thøgersen wants to use the Applixure APIs to feed their management system that the team is using to create tasks automatically. When something shows up in Applixure, they can easily and automatically fix it right away. “We could do lots of things automatically. For example, if it is a driver problem, we can update the driver automatically and not use our time on it.”

“Applixure is a great tool for us to show what to focus on.”


Currently, Thøgersen says they are using an average of 1.5 people to fix things semi-automatically, and he wants to save those hours for something more productive. “These are mostly recurring problems.” Stoumann Hoeks clarifies, and Thøgersen continues: “That’s about 20% of our resources that I could free up from tedious, repetitive tasks to more productive and meaningful work.”

Flemming Thøgersen

 

Flemming Thøgersen

 

Team Manager, IT Client Infrastructure, JYSK

 

 

Stinus Stoumann Hoeks


Stinus Stoumann Hoeks
Senior IT Operations Consultant, JYSK

Get started with Applixure

Gaining visibility into your employees' computers and software is easy with Applixure. Start your free trial today, or schedule a demo with our customer success team. 

Getting started is quick & easy:

  1. Complete sign-up form
  2. Deploy agents (pre-configured)
  3. Data collection begins immediately; dashboards are ready to view in a few hours
Start free trial Book a Demo
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JYSK is an international home retailer with Scandinavian roots that makes it easy to furnish every room in any home and garden. With more than 3,000 stores and webshops in 51 countries, JYSK always has a great offer and competent service nearby, no matter how customers want to shop. Founder Lars Larsen opened his first store in Denmark in 1979. Today, JYSK employs 26,500 colleagues. In Germany the stores are called DÄNISCHES BETTENLAGER – in the rest of the world JYSK. JYSK is part of family-owned Lars Larsen Group with a total turnover of 4.8 billion EUR. JYSK’s turnover is 4.1 billion EUR.

Applixure is a B2B SaaS solution that provides IT with always up-to-date visibility of how computers and software are serving employees. It pulls the relevant data into intuitive dashboards and clearly indicates high-impact yet easy-to-fix issues - enabling your IT to be more proactive. Set-up is quick, so you can start reaping the benefits almost overnight. Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Finland, Applixure is trusted by over 1000 companies and managed service providers (MSPs). Give your IT the visibility it needs to improve your digital employee experience with Applixure.