Over a month ago, Woolworths stores fell victim to a nationwide IT issue that rendered register systems unusable for half an hour at 4pm on April 16th. Close to 500 Woolworths stores around Australia were affected and left customers with no choice but to abandon their shopping trolleys and leave without their goods.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci announced that the issue was caused by an update to IT systems. He also said that the systems self-corrected themselves after half an hour but not after shoppers had to be turned away from the stores during the outage.
Woolworths is Australia’s largest supermarket chain with around 1000 stores nationwide and this issue undoubtedly caused significant chaos for hundreds of customers and store employees. A Twitter user reported that staff were struggling to cope and frantically calling IT services.
It is apparent that store staff did not have a plan prepared for this type of outage where all registers simultaneously went down for half an hour. Woolworths IT made a mistake that could have been avoided with their system updates. It is likely that this issue was a rare occurrence caused by human error, but plans should still be in place as this issue should fall under an IT disaster recovery plan, and store staff should have a crisis management plan.
This outage and lack of preparation strike resemblance to other recent outages in the weeks preceding with the Commonwealth Bank and ANZ. Customers were left unable to make card payments and withdrawals from ATMs for an entire day in the case of Commonwealth Bank due to major IT outages. Customers were left stranded at registers and ATMs unable to pay. One ANZ customer was forced to run to a branch to withdraw money over the counter after hearing that there was a two-hour wait on ANZ’s customer support line.
These occurrences go to show that even the largest, most well-funded organisations do not have well documented IT disaster recovery plans as well as an incident or crisis management plans in place. Even a short 5 minutes of downtime can result in undesirable media attention and customer dissatisfaction for a business, which ultimately results in financial losses.
It is imperative that businesses implement detailed business continuity plans in the case that an IT outage occurs. Store staff should be informed about crisis plans and should be trained in what to do in these scenarios.
If you’re interested in finding out more information about how to implement an IT disaster recovery plan speak with the team from Agilient today.