For this latest post, we're joined by our good friends at Dunelm. They're working on plenty of exciting stuff (see more below) and are looking for engineers just like you to join their team. They're about to relaunch their technology blog so let's take a look at what they've been up to from Dunelm themselves!
You’ve hopefully heard of Dunelm, the home of homes and the UK’s number 1 homewares retailer. We have 176 stores across the country and over 10,000 colleagues helping to provide more than 50,000 products either from a physical store or via the 12 million online transactions per year on Dunelm.com.
But you might not be aware of the great technology being used and the talented team behind it.
The (re)launch of our blog hopes to bring these to life and provide some useful, interesting and fun insight along the way.
In true Dunelm Tech fashion, the blog is self-organising and democratised. It’s run by volunteers with an interest in getting our message “out there” and open to the whole team (and beyond) to contribute to. This is also our MVP, expect to see it spruced up as and when we can convince people who know how to do such things to help us out.
With that in mind, expect to see everything from high-level whim-driven musings about technological trends right through to deep-dive technical discussions and personal projects. We’ll also be drafting guest contributors from the wider organisation to keep things varied and highlight how our tech makes a difference where it counts!
We’ve already got lots of articles in the pipeline and intend to post them regularly, so please follow (here) if you want to keep up to date on what we’re thinking, doing and… messing around with!
Where better to kick things off than a bit of an overview of technology at Dunelm? Future posts will likely delve more deeply into these themes and hopefully encourage some discussion around different approaches and viewpoints, but let’s start off with a bit of a whirlwind tour…
The not-so-secret ingredient that makes everything work. This is what Dunelm Tech is really all about: getting talented people to collaborate on delivering outcomes that matter for our customers and colleagues.
Our people cover a broad range of roles, each with their own specialisms but the power really comes from the cross-functional teams, with individuals playing to their strengths but all pulling together in the same direction. The DevOps mindset is crucial.
We value empowerment, openness, curiosity and enthusiasm. Indeed, our recent TV Advert “Dun Your Way” (see what we did there…?) is all about combining our products in a way that meets your unique needs. Similarly, in technology, we bring together the right people with the right mindset and ask them to solve our customers’ problems in a uniquely Dunelm way.
Personal development is key to keeping people motivated and we encourage our people to build their careers at Dunelm. There’s plenty of opportunities to be promoted or role switch, with many recent examples of people developing their careers within or across the organisation.
We’ve organised ourselves around a loosely “Spotify-inspired” matrix model, with functional tribes lining up with broad business capabilities (E.g. Selling) and horizontal chapters, spanning the tribes and forming communities of roles (E.g. Engineering). We also have centres of excellence and guilds that operate across the organisation, making sure we’ve got the right people in the right place at the right time.
Our tribes help keep us true to customer & colleague needs and are mostly product-based, outcome-oriented and business capability centric. Our chapters help promote consistency and good practice while ensuring we keep the necessary focus on career development.
We’re primarily an Agile organisation and this agility allows us to move fast, try things out, fail fast and learn. This is particularly evident when we build software to differentiate ourselves, but we intend on extending this further.
There are many business and organisational measures we use to help learn, adapt and grow, but we’re also increasingly using the DORA metrics to make sure we’re effective. Actively trying to improve deployment frequency, mean lead time for changes, change failure rate and time to recovery means we trend towards delivering more change, more safely.
Like many businesses, we’ve adopted a hybrid model of working. Our direction is “feel at home wherever you work”. With most working remotely currently, our offices in London and Leicester have been renovated to include more open areas and collaboration spaces for teamwork and it’s been important to ensure that anyone not physically present, is included in the conversation properly.
Last, but by absolutely no means, least, is our technology. As with most businesses of our size, we have a wide spectrum of systems, platforms and technology.
On one side, we have the largest Lambda implementation in EMEA with a distributed and ultra-scalable digital platform powering our website. On the other, we have more traditional stacks, with the odd monolith, providing the grunt for our internal systems. And of course, everything in between. One potentially surprising fact, is that it all runs in the cloud. Even our more traditional stuff has been migrated to AWS giving us a bit more wiggle room when it comes to changes.
We’re incrementally migrating the whole estate towards modern architecture, consisting of functional SaaS solutions for commodity capabilities, distributed custom software for differentiating capabilities and microservice integrations fronted by APIs. Increasingly, our data flows as events around the estate…the lifeblood of the organisation.
We hope you enjoyed this brief overview of technology at Dunelm, please follow us for more and let us know if there’s anything you’d like to hear more about.