Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Business to Create a Better Customer Experience



Savers is a global thrift retailer that operates over 330 thrift stores in the US, Canada and Australia. Their Value Village, Unique, and Savers brand stores not only receive direct donations from the community, but stores also purchase donated clothing and goods from non-profit organizations, as well as buy clothing gathered during an organization’s donation drive. 


In early 2016, Savers decided to implement a Customer Fundraising Portal to enhance the customer experience aspect of direct fundraising. This portal, later known as the Savers FUNDrive project, would allow organizations to launch and manage their own fundraisers through a custom web platform online.

Savers’ business and engineering teams began working immediately to design and develop various components of the Customer Fundraising Portal. However, each team soon realized they had different understandings on who their customer was and how the customer fundraising portal would be used. This resulted in each team having different goals and end points in mind, which lead to a communication gap between both teams on the FUNDrive project. 

At this point, the engineering team at Savers enlisted the help of Forum Solutions and associate Mary Lee Picatti for technical project management over the FUNDrive project. “She coached the business stakeholders in how they can work effectively with the delivery team,” Explains Erfan Bhojawala, director of engineering at Savers. “There is an inherent outcome that [both teams] were looking for, and Mary Lee helped translate that and get that out.”

[Forum] is a company that integrity comes first. I think they’re all just great people, everybody that I met, I really enjoyed it.
— Allison Kolden, Savers Fundraising Department Senior Program Manager


Picatti was able to help the engineering team at Savers refocus who their customer was and determine what they wanted their customer to perceive by attending daily IT stand-ups, backlog and sprint planning meetings. 

Once Picatti was finished working with the engineering team at Savers, the business side then picked up Forum Solutions and continued working with Picatti for the remainder of the FUNDrive project. Since Forum had experience working with both sides, Picatti was able to assess the project’s position quickly and understand each side’s standpoint efficiently. 

“Mary Lee had been [helping us] on the IT [side], and so [she was already familiar with] that business piece, and had the ability to bridge that gap for us,” explains Allison Kolden, business manager of the Savers FUNDrive project. “with Mary Lee on board, we wouldn’t have to bring someone else in, train them and teach them about the project.”

In addition to helping each team individually, Forum helped both teams implement a new internal process of checks and balances so that each team could check each other’s progress every few weeks and receive feedback from the other side. Setting up a regular schedule of communication between business stakeholders and engineering made it so that each team was clear on the requirements and were always working on the right things.

“Once people got into this process and people got used to each other, and seeing that their changes actually were getting incorporated, it was really helpful,” states Picatti.

[Forum] was able to work independently, talk to various stakeholders and use their experience to give us their unbiased opinion and recommendations.
— Erfan Bhojawala, Savers Director of Engineering


Forum helped Savers improve their day-to-day organizational structure by being present and hands-on at all times. By facilitating collaboration between individuals and providing support from beginning to end, Forum was able to help both the business and IT teams at Savers develop the best possible platform to meet their customer needs.