A Case in Point
The Kroger Co. is the largest retail food company in the United States, as measured by total annual sales. Founded in 1883 by Barney Kroger in Cincinnati, Ohio, where their headquarters remains today, Kroger's mission is to continue to be a leader in the distribution and merchandising of food, pharmacy, health, and personal care items; seasonal merchandise; and related products; and more recently diversified services such as insurance and other financial services.
Kroger has come a long way since Barney's first grocery store. At the end of 2003, they operated 1,392 food stores under seven names across 24 states, and 816 convenience stores under six logos in 15 states. Food stores are their primary business and account for more than 93% of total company sales. Convenience stores and 36 manufacturing facilities contribute the remainder of total sales. The total number of employees is more than 170,000.
To achieve this growth, Kroger has a track record of innovation both in its national store facilities and information systems. The senior IT management made a decision to implement a methodology and set about training every member of the 250-person IS department, from junior trainees to senior managers.
Kroger's objectives in using a methodology were as follows:
- Obtain a predictable, repeatable process that was structured, yet flexible, with multiple development routes.
- Provide a standard way to plan, estimate, and schedule projects
- Capture analysis and design deliverables in a common repository that would store project documentation and promote standards.
Since implementing the methodology, Kroger has experienced major increases in productivity and delivered better-quality systems—and all of this in a climate of continuous change and complexity. IS Director Larry Braun sums up their experiences: "With the methodology, our developers can produce more consistent results than they could before and in less time. The methodology is more than a development process; it is a part of the Kroger culture."