Plan, Plan & Prepare for the Unexpected: Cyber Week 2021

My husband, Joe, wanted to buy a tractor for over five years to use at our cabin to grade the mile-long road we maintain and to do other important and cool stuff that he assures me can only be done with a tractor. For over five years, he has researched, planned, and hunted for that perfect used tractor with low hours of use, at a price he liked. My only requirement was it had to be a John Deere…just because. So, he planned, and planned, and planned. For over five years.

Finally, this month, he found the perfect used John Deere 2032R compact tractor and scheduled to pick it up from the seller. He was so excited and grinning like a little kid. But, on the night before he was to pick it up, he hit a major snag. He couldn’t swap out his truck’s trailer hitch because it was rusted in, and hours of pounding on it didn’t move it. Even with years of planning, unexpected incidents can happen and throw you off. Luckily, we were able to pivot and have the tractor delivered to my parents’ house, which was just 10 minutes away from the seller, but still over 2 hours from the cabin. Joe had to bring the truck to a welder to get the hitch removed. We held a very quick retrospective on this incident and decided that the hitch will be removed after every use from now on. 😀 No incident report will be needed for this, and the tractor has since made its way to the cabin.

Here’s where I’m going to tell you that all of my husband’s tractor planning and last-minute trailer hitch incident is a bit like preparing for and managing Cyber Week. Just go with me on this one.

SPS spends months, and even years, preparing for Cyber Week and the Peak Season that surrounds that one week of the year. As the world’s retail network, we are keenly aware of the importance of this time of year for the retail industry, our customers, and SPS. We put extra focus and care into planning for scale and resiliency and preparing for the unexpected – all to ensure our part in the supply chain just works.

As soon as we finished Cyber Week 2020, we held a retrospective and began planning for this year’s Cyber Week 2021 and beyond. We tracked critical system metrics, collaborated with Sales and Customer Success teams, estimated peak volumes during our busiest hours and days, and performance tested to beyond our highest estimates. We do some serious planning and preparation.

But we also prepare our processes and our people to handle the unexpected. Yes, just like that trailer hitch being rusted in, things can go wrong during Cyber Week. That’s why we have a robust Incident Management process, complete with defined roles, responsibilities, and communication and escalation methods. We augment that strong process by training our staff and providing coaching for people in new roles, such as Incident Manager and Customer Captain.

When Cyber Week arrives, we add an increased level of focus for our teams by implementing a process called Hypercare, which means hyper-focus on system performance and hyper visibility to metrics. Hypercare decreases the time to identify and respond to potential system issues while improving the efficiency of our communication channels.

Through all of this, we have fun being part of #TeamSPS. We have a virtual Hypercare Lounge where people around the globe hang out to watch our production systems, discuss application metrics, and decompress by sharing fun virtual backgrounds. We live our company values even at times of stress. We realize that Results Matter and that we Succeed Together. We can also be Obsessed With Customers and value Employees Come First at the same time.

We are ready for our customers! I might not be grinning like a little kid just yet (that’ll be after Cyber Week), but I’m excited. Happy holiday shopping!

Amy Patton, VP Technology

SPS Technology @spstech